Collaborating at Atlassian Summit 2017

  September 18, 2017

Last week, I traveled out to San Jose with a few of my colleagues at SmartBear Software for the 2017 Atlassian Summit. It was my first time manning a trade show booth and my first time out to Silicon Valley, so I was wide-eyed and reasonably nervous. Having only entered the software world 8 weeks ago, I knew that I needed to prepare for a barrage of technical questions from developers about our entire portfolio of software quality tools, 17 solutions deep. Does this integrate with that? How is this different than that other thing? But as soon as the show kicked off, our swag laid out and demo screens ready, my concerns subsided.

Because our tools cover the spectrum of the software development lifecycle, almost everyone who stopped by the booth was struggling with a problem that at least one of our products could remedy. Whether they were hoping to automate their functional testing, standardize their code and document reviews, or improve their API development process; the attendees who stopped by our booth all shared the same common struggle: Finding the right tools for their team.

There’s no universal rubric to evaluate different software quality tools because ultimately everyone has a unique process, often tangled in legacy tools and existing company behaviors. To actually make a match between an impactful quality tool and a development team, you have to start with a conversation. For example, when my team was walking attendees from highly-regulated industries through our peer review product, Collaborator, I saw features like requirements reviews, customizable review templates, and data archiving elicit genuine excitement. On their own, these capabilities can sound dry, but when they come together to solve a team’s compliance challenge and save hours of tedious work, the enthusiasm is absolutely justified.

The Atlassian Summit was decadently catered, rich in swag, and punctuated with a Bash on Wednesday night; but my favorite part of the conference was meeting customers. As a product team, our first responsibility is delivering on the promise of better software, faster. There’s just no substitute for talking face-to-face with our customers and getting their feedback. For Collaborator, we had teams stop by the booth and share how our tool was helping them to drive their peer review process. For the folks who hadn’t yet seen the new features released in 11.1, we walked through the tightened JIRA integration, data archiving, and other improvements to Collaborator’s usability. With 11.1, we also simplified the management of the overall review process with custom review pools and subscriptions. The positive response from customers affirmed that our product roadmap has been responding well to their feature requests. Of course, we’ve always got more work to do and more features to build, but it was great to hear that recognition.

For my first time to Silicon Valley, this trip also showed me that technology and software aren’t actually driven forward by “unicorns”, IPO speculations, or a perfect keynote. It’s the scrum masters, dev managers, product and software teams that put in the hard work every day, sprint after sprint. The time-saving, quality-strengthening tools that SmartBear provides make a meaningful difference to companies, whether they are testing a web page or launching a rocket.

With that in mind, I can’t wait to go back to San Francisco next month for Oracle’s JavaOne Conference. If you’re also going to that show, make sure to stop by our booth and check out some of the new features in Collaborator 11.2, which we are releasing at the end of this month.