Collaboration software vendor Atlassian today unveiled a new product that provides text, voice, video, file sharing and other workplace collaboration tools that allow portions of group text threads to be set aside as sidebar tasks to be completed later.
Atlassian, which already offers a collaboration platforms such as Confluence and HipChat, referred to its new Stride offering as a product built "from the ground up" exclusively for corporate use. This is meant to differentiate it from its developer-focussed tools. it also has features not available in other platforms, including ways to keep a track of decisions made during conversations.
As with HipChat, which the company bought in 2012, Stride will be offered in a freemium model, with additional features that require companies to pay $3 per user per month.
In its Stride
The Stride software was built to scale from startups with 10 employees to enterprises of more than 10,000, and includes security features such as secure file sharing and two-factor authentication.
The free version of Stride will provide messaging between unlimited users, chat rooms, group video and audio. The paid tier introduces dial-in features, screen sharing and remote desktop control.
Group text or voice chat meetings can also migrate to video chats, with team members able to be instantly notified of the change so they can get the full context of the conversation that was in progress.
Like HipChat, Stride will offer file sharing, video and voice calling, the ability to search previous messages and the ability to view images, which can also be annotated.
Stride will also offer screen sharing, and remote-control access across multi-platform devices, including iOS, Android and Chrome.
While both HipChat and Stride are enterprise communication products, Stride brings together video/audio conferencing and collaboration tools "to offer the most complete communications tool on the market," said Steve Goldsmith, general manager at Atlassian.
"Others in the market have started doing one element of this and then bolting on additional features, [such as] chat products adding video, document collaboration adding chat, etc., but those experiences create friction and don't help you communicate more effectively with your team," Goldsmith said. "We built Stride from the ground up so that these three powerful pillars – messaging, audio/video conferencing and collaboration tools – work seamlessly together, removing the friction in your day and helping your team move forward together."
At the same time it's offering unique features, Stride's functions overlap with those that Atlassian's HipChat and Confluence provide, which could be tricky from a marketing and product positioning perspective, according to Raul Castanon-Martinez, a senior analyst for enterprise mobility with 451 Research.
"It can also be confusing for channel partners and clients," Castanon-Martinez said. "Atlassian is positioning it as a separate product, which means that they are not imposing an upgrade path for HipChat clients to transition into Stride. This is a smart move because they will not force anyone to switch unless they are ready to do so."
One feature Stride offers that Atlassian's other products do not is to allow users involved in an online meeting to annotate comments, which can also be set apart from a group conversation to act as a sidebar "to-do" actions or decisions list.
The platform also provides something called "focus mode," which allows employees logged into Stride to notify colleagues that they're busy; at the same time, messages can still be forwarded to those in focus mode and opened once it is turned off.
"People need to be able to step away from [the] treadmill of messaging to get work done," said Oji Udezue, head of product management for Stride at Atlassian.
Once actions or decisions lists are created, they can also be marked as completed by clicking an icon, Udezue said.
Castanon-Martinez said providers of team collaboration and business communications solutions should pay more attention to helping knowledge workers handle the overflow of notifications from email and IM and enable them to focus on "deep work."
"As far as I know, Stride is the first product that does exactly that," Castanon-Martinex said. "There are other interesting products out there like harmon.ie Collage and Astrobot, but this is the first product from a major provider."
Castanon-Martinez said there's "a lot to like about Stride and it's a big step forward for Atlassian, and one which places them ahead of the curve in terms of their vision for the future of business communications and team collaboration.
Features such as "focus mode" and the "action/decision" markup are similar to what some other collaboration products offer, and while Stride's full capabilities are somewhat unique they won't remain so for long, according to Castanon-Martinez.
"The sidebar is similar to what other companies are doing; for example harmon.ie Collage, which was launched over a year ago, has a similar feature, and other tools like RedKix and Astro do something similar with aggregation, consolidating notifications from email and IM," Castanon-Martinez said. "Having said that, Stride's features are not impossible to replicate. I believe this is part of a larger trend; Stride is the first tool to come out with these features, but I expect others will follow."
Goldsmith said Stride will gradually be rolled out beginning today to HipChat users as part of an early access program. The users can choose a" 0-click upgrade" if they want to move over to Stride immediately, "and will have all of their rooms, history and data when they arrive."
Stride will be generally available later this year.
"If a HipChat team wants to stay on HipChat, they are more than welcome to," Goldsmith said. "But we believe that Stride offers the most complete communications offering on the market and teams will find huge value in bringing together team messaging, audio/video conferencing and collaboration tools all into one product."