Collaboration platform Confluence explained

Daniel Freeman is the vice president of product marketing at Atlassian, an award-winning enterprise software company that helps innovators everywhere plan, build, and launch great software. He is responsible for developing product marketing content to inspire new visitors and engage existing customers. Atlassian has more than 25,000 customers—including Microsoft, Facebook, Cisco, Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble, Exxon, BMW and NASA—using its collaboration and software development products to work smarter and deliver faster results.

Firstly, can you tell us what Confluence is?

Confluence is a team collaboration platform that connects teams with the content, knowledge, and co-workers they need to get work done, faster. More than 13,000 companies including Virgin Media, Mind Candy, and the BBC use Confluence, either in the cloud or on their own servers, to create, share, and discuss work.

What are the main advantages for a company using a system like Confluence?

Ultimately, it improves productivity of teams. Confluence centralises information so people can easily track and take action on tasks, regardless of location, in a way that's consistent in format, automatically organised and easy to find. It also encourages knowledge sharing, helps to remove common workplace bottlenecks and information-silos, and empowers users of all technical skill levels to contribute.

Have you any examples of how companies are using Confluence?

Collaboration and knowledge sharing means different things to different teams.

Bonobos, a technology-driven men's clothing line, uses Confluence as a knowledge management system replacing the need for internal emails and Excel spreadsheets. One of the most popular pages, the Bonobos Request Center, acts as a self-service desk where employees find answers to internal process questions.

HubSpot, a leading marketing software-as-a-service company, uses Confluence as an intranet and go-to resource featuring lively, cross-departmental discussions over feature ideas, product roadmaps, pricing strategy, and more, greatly reducing internal meetings and emails.

Atlassian has just released Decisions Blueprint for Confluence. What does this tool add to the Confluence experience?

Every team makes countless decisions each day – some small requiring little to no collaboration, others requiring a lot of discussions with many people. The new Decisions Blueprint gives teams a simple, repeatable process for making decisions collaboratively and records them in Confluence so they're easily referenced later.

Teams assign an owner, a due date, key stakeholders, and important background information. The Decisions Blueprint enables stakeholders to add comments and voice opinions in threaded discussions. Once key stakeholders have weighed in, the decision owner can make and share a decision with the rest of the team, department or company. The decision can be referenced through search or simple navigation.

The enterprise social network space is becoming increasingly competitive, what makes Confluence stand out from others?

It is not just a private social network used to talk about work, but a platform for actually getting work done and making vital business decisions - content is the platform and social is a feature.

Secondly, the need for flexibility and product integration is becoming increasingly important. Confluence integrates with many products including Atlassian JIRA, the issue-tracker of choice for IT and development teams. More than 50 per cent of teams using JIRA for software development choose Confluence to collaborate on unstructured information.

Finally, while there is growing demand for cloud-based offerings, many companies want the flexibility to deploy software on their own servers, behind their own firewall. Confluence offers both in the cloud and on-premise deployment options.

What can we expect to see in the collaboration space in the coming years?

The process of creating something - be it software, a new product, service or business - is inherently social and involves a variety of people, roles and departments. New technologies will take into account the different needs of these stakeholders and help simplify and speed the complex set of social interactions involved in taking an idea from concept to launch. We will continue to see new tools and technologies engineered to connect people and content together in structured and ad hoc ways.

IT and technical teams will continue to be primary decision makers and/or influencers on social software purchases. Developing innovative features that attract and grow with these teams while continuing to improve the experience for non-technical or business users will be crucial to succeeding in the social collaboration market. This includes increasing integration capabilities and extensibility, as well as meeting growing demand for cloud-based offerings. We also see a rising need for real-time chat in the enterprise as companies become more globally dispersed.