Atlassian Community AMA with Cameron Deatsch, Part 1

If you have ever considered going after a Atlassian Community Leader status, you should. There are many benefits, but workshops and events put on by the Atlassian Community team are among my favorites. And that’s what I’m here to talk about today.  

Last week, I got to attend an “AMA” (Ask Me Anything) with Atlassian CRO Cameron Deatsch. And wow, so much was covered. Thankfully, I also got Atlassian’s permission to share what was said with everyone! No, seriously, they went so far as to provide the transcript to make it easier! Special thanks to Erica Moss for moderating the event and Bridget Sauer for getting me the permission and transcript! So, let’s dig into it!

What are you most Proud of this past year?

Erica Moss: We do have a lot of very specific questions we have some more high-level questions, so I’d love to start with, just kind of broadly, anything that you’re most proud of in the past year, obviously there’s been a lot of change we’re living through unprecedented times, etc., etc., but what sparks joy for you, what are you proud of over the last year.

Cameron Deatsch: Yeah, and sadly I think in fiscal years, so let’s go like July 2020. Do any of you remember Jay Simons, who was my predecessor? He was the President of Atlassian, short guy, played piano.

So I’ve worked with Jay since 2005, since out of graduate school. He has been a mentor, my boss, and one of my best friends. It still continues to this day; for many, many years. And last July, he basically left the company and I effectively took on his roles. So running Marketing, Sales, Customer Success, and Support. Which, you know, I put on a good face that I was confident, and I can go do, but also at that particular time COVID had hit everything. We had our smallest to new customer growth ever in the previous quarter like we normally did six to 7000 new customers in the previous quarter we’ve done like 3400 customers.

Obviously, we had the server end-of-life message coming out, and we were working on that. And a lot of the core metrics in the business just had uncertainty due to COVID and all those things. 

Also, we have a strong leader like Jay leave. So it obviously puts a lot of transition in place of other leaders; you know, there’s lots of change was all I can say. And, I was pretty stressed out, I’ll just be perfectly honest, on it. The reality is a year later, now the company is in the best strategic, operational, financial, and from my perspective, leadership perspective that we’ve had since I’ve been here.

I’m most proud of the broader go-to-market organization that I’m the leader of, in that some people have stepped up and taken bigger roles, we’ve hired some incredible leaders from outside the industry, and outside the business small; specifically, Kevin Egan, who we hired from Slack to run the Enterprise part of the business. 

And we’ve continued to execute on our roadmaps across the board in the business. So the thing I’m most proud of is the fact is that we went through – And Atlassian has some history here – like one of the hardest times that we could face as a company, and we’ve come out the other end largely healthier than we have than we’ve ever been. You know with more customers, like we got like 23,000 new customers. So the Atlassian world continues to grow and expand. Compared to 12 months ago, I’m completely blown idea that we’re able to achieve that.

Will Team ’22 be in-person?

Erica Moss: Well, speaking of unprecedented times, things are changing. We’ve been hosting Team virtually, and it’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Are we going to Vegas? What is the plan – Tell us everything!

Cameron Deatsch: I had to make sure I got permission – like a lot of these things, I checked permission ahead of time. So yes, we are having Team 22 in Vegas in early April of next year. We will be doing an online event, but it will be separate from the Team 22 events as we’ve realized that trying to do it in person and an online event makes like a shitty experience for both, so we are going to do them separately. So we are going to have a very good online event and a very good in-person event.

Obviously, we are going to take the health and safety of all of our employees, all the staff, and of course, all of you who attend as the number one priority. So, obviously, it will be different, but we want to get in person. We absolutely want to continue that event. 

You will also see, I think, an evolution, as far as our events strategy in general beyond Team 22. So we hope to share even more there, but you should expect even more in-person events coming from Atlassian in the next few years. More regionally focused, more in-person smaller events, more market focus, and more individual product focus. Versus having just these giant “Get 10,000 people in a room rah, rah, rah!” We think that just the market opportunities are there if we can come closer to you and be more focused on our events strategy in general.

One of the challenges we face, as you all know, Atlassian has like 16 products now. It’s hard to give information on each of the 16 products to our very different audiences in a single big Keynote presentation, so we’re trying to be more focused on how we reach out.

But Yes, Team 22, it’s on. Expect more details coming shortly

How do you assess the progress of Point A initiatives?

Erica Moss: What you said was kind of a great segue into some more product-specific questions that we have for you. Walter wrote in, and he says that he was very impressed by the announcement of the Point A program last year at Team 21. How do you assess the new products and initiatives that were announced – in terms of their contribution to the Atlassian fly-wheel? And similarly, how is customer adoption of those new initiatives as well as their involvement to improve the products?

Cameron Deatsch:  So point A. If you look at the last few years, especially since Atlassian went public, we had all this money, and we bought companies, right? We bought Trello, and we bought Agilecraft, we bought Opsgenie, we bought Insight, we’ve been buying a bunch of Tech. Which is great – that’s part of enterprise software – and we have to be good at it, you see a lot. But we realized a couple years back that we were getting too dependent or too heavily focused on inorganic Innovation, which is basically buying companies. And I said, ” Hey, listen, why aren’t we developing new stuff?” We still did ship-it, we still did all these internal innovation things, but the reality is the company was getting so big, it wasn’t just that an inspiring engineer with an idea could get a product and launch it out; we needed more structure around it.

That was what the Point A program was. It was to ensure that we, actually, had structured investments as a part of our corporate strategy to drive organic innovation through new products. We’ve launched four new initiatives: Jira Work Management, Jira Product Discovery, Team Central, and Compass – All in various States of their maturity. Only Jira Work Management, today, you can actually purchase as a generally available product. And actually, as a Jira Software or JSM Customer, you get Jira Work Management for free right now. 

How we measure the success of all these things largely is: we’re trying to find adoption. Are we scratching an itch that our customers – or potentially new customers – would be interested in? Do we see some adoption? We’re not looking to get 10s of thousands, but we’re looking to get enough adoption to know that, “Hey, a certain portion of our customer base wants these tools.”

And also, is it something we can scale on? Are the capabilities there? We’re trying to partner deeply with the people in the early days, to ensure that we are building the right set of features and roadmaps behind those products. And then eventually, we have gates along the way. So if we need a certain amount of adoption and a certain amount of customer satisfaction, we will invest the next step to eventually take them and make them all generally available, so all of our customers can purchase them. We hold a pretty high bar. I think we’ve had 50 ideas to get these four out, and even those four, you know we’ll have to get to a certain adoption before they get a price and we actually sell them.

The other interesting piece along those lines, the goal is like get them out as quickly as possible once we hit those gates. So if it feels like, “This is going a little bit slow here, I want to use this,” it’s on purpose. The reality is our customer base is getting gigantic, and we want to be very clear that if we launch a product and make it generally available to our customer base, that it’s going to support the needs of all of our customers, both the very very big and the very very small. That’s that’s a pretty high bar right now, so it does take a while.

The other side of that is like we invest a good portion. We have a dedicated percentage of our R&D allocation towards those; and the same on the go-to-market side. So the cool part about this is, you should expect, like in general, four or five of these every year going forward. Mike and Scott made it clear now that – and I almost passed out at this -“Oh yeah, we’re going to 100 products in our portfolio one day,” And I’m like, “Oh God, Mike, you’re killing me.” But it’s one of those where you know, our ambition is that there’s plenty of team-related problems out there in the industry to solve, and there’s many, many innovative ways to go solve them. That’s our landscape, let’s go do it and invest to go do it, and we have a good history of this. You know Jira Service Desk was a ship-IT project seven years ago. Now it’s our third largest product and growing faster than anything else in our portfolio right, so we have a good track record; it just takes a while. 

And this is where Mike and Scott, they can think five to ten years out there, like “Okay we’ll get the ball rolling, and five years from now that’s going to be a big part of our business.” So that’s how we view it. 

Also, I’ll prep you we will kill some of these products. And sometimes, it will be products that a portion of our customers will be really excited about, and it’s always hard to kill those things. But we have to do that in order to take that development capacity and put it towards the other initiatives that we have more faith in. And that will be the nature of this program going forward. I think there are four or five more projects in the pipeline right now, which will continue in perpetuity, so expect a lot of innovation from Atlassian.

Will Atlassian Provide a “Cloud to Cloud” Migration Tool?

Erica Moss: Is there a plan to provide a “Cloud to Cloud” Migration tool to make the life of Jira Admins easier?

Cameron Deatsch: Yes, there actually is a Jira Cloud-to-Cloud tool in the works right now with our migrations team, it is currently being tested. i’ve heard yesterday, should be ended October, when you can get your hands on it. We do not have a Confluence-to-Confluence Cloud Migration tool in the pipeline yet, but please make your voice heard if that’s needed. As many of you know, a lot of this comes down to this kind of federation of Jiras, both on Prem and Cloud across organizations. We had focused historically on the Server-to-Cloud migration tools, but we realized that a lot of consolidation in the Cloud is happening as well, and we’ve seen that too, and it should be available pretty soon. And everyone loves Jira migrations; I know every one of you gets up like, “I get to migrate Jira today.”

When is the next Jira Data Center LTS Release?

Erica Moss: We are starting to see more questions coming about when the next JIRA Data Center LTS Release might be coming up. Can you give us a hint whether that might be version 8.20 or 8.21, and when it’s be expected?

Cameron Deatsch: It’s 8.20 and late October. Tom Butler, one of the heads of project management in the server organization, told me that yesterday. He wouldn’t tell me with that amount of confidence, so it’s completely confident and like almost to be released. So expect by the October, 8.20 is the next long term support release.

Will there be more user-oriented new features in Jira DC?

Erica Moss: Many of the features for data Center products have been under the hood and are appreciated by admins. Any thoughts on what the future holds for updates that end users can appreciate? Features that they can touch and feel to help improve their usage experience? He says a great example recently is comment emojis.

Cameron Deatsch: I’ll be perfectly honest here. The data Center promise, value-prop, and strategy is around performance, scale, administrative control, full access to, and control over your data. You should not expect, nor should any of your end-users expect, a ton of end-user feature innovation in the Data Center products going forward.

My promise, there is, you get the scale and get full control of your data. That’s a choice you have, but we’ve been more than honest that the bulk of our innovation, especially from an end-user perspective, is in our cloud products. And that we will do everything in our power to make sure that we address every one of your concerns in our Cloud products, I know it’s a long list. And being the head of Server, and believe me, I’m a champion for every single server customer when I have to do this, but in the end, you also have for me is preserving this choice.

If you want full control of your data and never touch the Cloud you have that from Atlassian, and you’re going to get perfect scale and a big marketplace to customize the hell out of Data Center till the end of time. If you want end-user feature innovation, and where Atlassian is putting the bulk of its R&D today, it’s going to be in Atlassian Cloud. And that is a choice that you and your company’s get to make. I know it’s not the best choice everyone wants the best of both worlds across everything, but that’s just not the nature of the technology, nor a company strategy today.

Will Atlassian get more Migration tools from other Platforms?

Erica Moss: One of the common asks in the community is centered around migrating from other products onto the Jira platform. It seems to me that Atlassian is missing an opportunity by not actively providing migration tools from various platforms. I do recall seeing this as part of the server platform. However, Cloud seems to be missing these features. I would appreciate your thoughts on this topic.

Cameron Deatsch: Oh man, remember when we had all those like migrate from competitive tooling up on the website? That was probably like 2012 2013 days. And actually, when I saw this question yesterday, I went like, we have a few marketplace importers to that companies have built, but yeah, most of them are on Prem today.

From an Innovation and R&D investment perspective, all of our migration developers are largely working on the server-to-cloud and data Center-to-cloud migration. That’s the biggest strategic priority, that’s the place where we need to continue to improve, and that’s where most of our capacity has gone. That said, you’re absolutely right, I think we have a bunch of importers for our server products from competitive offerings that are pretty old now and I don’t know how good they work anymore. So this is a topic I will actually bring up today when I go to ExecOPS that that’s a conversation we should at least have some sort of roadmap behind. And sadly, we don’t. 

The good part is the api’s on Cloud. Because we basically had to get the server-to-cloud migrations working, we had to build a bunch of better api’s to ingest that data, so the api’s are there. I’m not i’m not sure how sophisticated they are through the CONNECT framework, but for those of you that are connected into the Community or into the Marketplace (and now last few of you are vendors out there), it I think it’s a pretty good marketplace opportunity that I know customers would gladly pay for as well. So i’ll continue to champion that internally; it kills me that that’s a place where we actually I knew we got a bunch of growth and then we’ve kind of ignored our last few years.

What is your favorite Atlassian Product?

Erica Moss: What is your favorite Atlassian Product, and what is the feature you like best within that Product?

Cameron Deatsch: You can’t pick a favorite one! I like Crowd a lot. You know, within Atlassian my the two products that I use every single day is Trello and Confluence. Like now granted, we have seven different Jiras running everything in this business; We have Jira Service Management for our Help Desk. And obviously, we have Jira Service Desk for our external support sites, and I use all those products, but the day-to-day work that I spend in every day is Trello and Confluence. I document all my one-on-ones in Confluence document, I document all of my personal tasks and team tasks. Each of my reports has a list in Trello. And then also we do a lot of writing big docs like our investor relations docs, or I’m writing a blog right now on Atlassian’s pricing strategy, which I’m looking forward to all of your feedback on. And that’s co-editing in Confluence, where will have five different people working on the Doc, and then Trello is the way I manage my personal life and that of my direct Team to ensure that tasks don’t get lost. So that’s my day to day, that’s that’s what I just am dependent on now. And the good part is likely have Team Central coming out there, that’s something we’ve increasingly used at Atlassian to track our teams OKR’s and big projects across the board, but that’s currently my answer.

Any Teasers for Jira DC 9.0?

Erica Moss: Can you give us any Teaser info about Jira DC 9.0?

Cameron Deatsch: I can’t But believe me, when that comes, I’ll let you know. I got to announce the Jira Data Center 8.0 – remember, Jira 8, Jira Great- that was one of the Best launches we ever did. So believe me, when Jira 9 comes out, i’ll make a big deal. They probably won’t let me announce it because it’s probably some Product person’s job to do now, but no, I can’t tell you 9.0 comes out.

Is there an update on Team Managed Projects vs Company Managed Projects in Jira Cloud?

Erica Moss: I do have another question from Jack, and it seems to be a pretty technical question, so I’m going to pretend that I understand all of the words that I’m reading out loud here, but he says, “I would love to get an update on the future of cloud TMP versus CMP.” 

Cameron Deatsch: I got this Erica. So Team manage projects versus company manage projects or what historically this whole crowd called next gen versus classic projects to use the old language. And then even internally you’ll hear some called it about bento view, which was the new issue of view that you see in company manage projects and donut world, which was effectively what we created Team manage projects all suites codenames.

To say that I’ve been in the thick of this ever since we started working on it five years ago, is an understatement. The answer to this specific question, and the question was: “Hey, I got a bunch of people that love creating Team manage projects, but then they’re coming to me as the administrator and they want a bunch of Controls, workflows, and reporting. And it puts me in a tough spot because I can’t do that in the team manage project, they have to do the company manage projects, and I hate having that conversation. Should I just turn off the Team manage projects?” 

Tough question general answer is that this is a double-edged sword of Jira: infinitely flexible, which is awesome, but infinitely flexible, which sucks. And I know many of you are all jira experts, so you’re all you’re good at that delicate balance of allowing freedom for your end users, but also ensuring that you have some governance and control and there’s no best way to do that. And this is one of those perfect examples where we’ve provided more flexibility, but also having a hard spot. My general answer on that is how comfortable are your end users with the extra step of working through you on all the changes that they want to make. This will slow down their ability to manage projects and make changes – not that any of you are slow – but if you’re Jira admins serving many, many different users, you have to have a process for that. So, are they willing to make that trade-off of having the additional benefit of having that workflow and reporting done by someone else managing all this at the cost of them not being super flexible and not doing anything they want themselves.

You know, in general, the bigger you get and the more standardization you’re looking for from your Jira deployment, the more that it’s okay to turn off the Team manage projects and simply run the company manage projects. But that is a decision that I wouldn’t want, as a Jira Admin, to just go do it. Survey your end-users, engage with them and talk about the trade-offs and get their feedback. And then, when you make that decision, communicate very loudly on why the decision was made to keep it on or off. Bring them in. I don’t need to tell you all this, but that’s the fun part of all of our products is, “How do you empower teams, while also driving some sort of standardization and governance across the tooling.”

OK, so the other answer that I have on this: Megan Cook is the product manager in charge of all this – I think actually she’d be a great person to get on a Community AMA, so consider me signing her up even though she doesn’t work for me. They do have a roadmap to continue improving Team Managed Projects to provide more administration reporting workflow capabilities. But that roadmap will take a while. As you know, eliminating schemes and replacing that with administrative capabilities, on top of individual projects, is a big effort and it’s something will continue to have people on so be sure you should expect incremental improvements over the next few years, related to that as we close those gaps; it won’t be a big bang release.

To be Continued

And this is where I’ll leave it today. Believe it or not, all this was only half of the AMA. However, as you can imagine, editing the machine transcription takes a fair bit of time – and this post is already almost three times my standard target word count! I want to thank Atlassian for putting on this event and for allowing me to post it!

Don’t forget you can find my social media links on my Linktree. You can also sign up below to get new posts as soon as they publish! But until next time, my name is Rodney, asking, “Have you updated your Jira issues today?”

1 Comment

  1. “You should not expect, nor should any of your end-users expect, a ton of end-user feature innovation in the Data Center products going forward.”

    Will pour one out for my On-prem users.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.