What’s the secret behind HipChat? What makes them different? These were some of the questions swirling in my head before I (Lea.Liao)had a chat with one of HipChat’s Product Marketing Managers, Shannon Winter.
Why should you be interested? To start, Atlassian — which acquired HipChat in 2012 — is now valued at $5.8 billion; and they got there without a sales force. That means they focus on building products customers love and share on their own. We of course would love to learn the secret behind the success. Second, since we are conducting a series of interviews to learn more about our users and partners, it seemed fit to have a chat with one of our best integration partners to date.
Therefore, we quickly scheduled a video-chat which was great fun!
Lea: Can you briefly introduce yourself and your team to our readers?
Shannon: Definitely! My name’s Shannon Winter and I am on the HipChat Product Marketing team here at Atlassian. Our team wears a variety of hats, but overall we work to help our users (and prospective users) understand why HipChat is a no-brainer for teams looking to boost their collaboration and communication. We create messaging and develop go-to-market strategies all aimed at helping teams understand how they can do their best work inside of HipChat. We collaborate daily with our devs, product managers, designers, etc. to make sure we are creating the best product journey possible.
Lea: Does the HipChat team use HipChat differently? Are there some features that your team uses frequently but the public does not?
Shannon: There are definitely some features that are underutilized. Sometimes users just haven’t discovered the ones we love yet, and that is where we come in to publish a blog or tweet about the best ones.
When I talk to customers on the phone I often find out that integrations are being underused. We integrate with 150+ different tools and usually their team is already using at least one of those without realizing they can bring it into HipChat! Again, bringing these tools inside your rooms can take your workflow and productivity to the next level and definitely make things less chaotic.
Lea: I’m sure that your team members have full plates everyday so there is bound to be a lot of file sharing and feedback flying back and forth in HipChat. How does your team stay productive and collaborative? Do you have any secret tricks?
Shannon:I think our main trick is bringing our entire workflow into HipChat through various ChatApps and bots. The name of the game is reducing context switching and increasing focus by bringing the tools we already rely on into one seamless workflow right in our HipChat world.
ChatApps in HipChat go far beyond what can be done with /commands and bots. By enabling a workflow that ties the people, the work, and the context together, we are able to achieve more and stay focused on what matters to us that day. We can track projects through JIRA; be alerted of new blogs and pages created in our team Confluence space; and stay up-to-date on tech news through custom RSS feeds. HipChat Connect apps let us take action directly in chat, transforming notifications from information sharing to action that gets work done. We recently planned locations and dates for an off-site in under 2 minutes by using a Convergely polling integration.
The right-side panel in HipChat rooms allows us to see an at-a-glance summary of all the HipChat Connect integrations we use. This helps us quickly catch up on what we’ve missed since the last time we’ve read through the chat. Additionally, our desktop apps now we have per-room notifications. This allows me to choose which rooms pings me when. I set our team room to “Loud” (pinged for everything) but set others where I am only a passive observer to “Quiet” (pinged only for @mentions).
The secret to productivity is using HipChat Connect integrations to improve the signal-to-noise ratio of our HipChat rooms. Per-room notification settings in our 4.0 apps and and integration side panel allows us to be notified about what’s most crucial at any given moment.
Lea: What’s your vision for team collaboration? Will HipChat be joining the bot hype?
Shannon: ChatOps — the idea of connecting people, tools, processes, and automation into one transparent workflow — will continue to be a big thing for team collaboration in the coming months. Bots will become more fully featured apps and that will make it so that less-technical teams can easily jump on board too. We see conversation-driven development becoming the norm for every software team in the future. And, we see conversation driven collaboration becoming the norm for all teams. This change in working was driven by technical teams but is now becoming more mainstream.
As for bots, I think it has become more of buzz-word than anything right now. A lot of bots are too technical for the average user or just a fancy word for command line automation. Many people can’t or don’t want to revert back to command line work. Bots will evolve into ChatApps and those will be much more powerful and accessible to larger groups of users.
Lea: Since you talked about ChatOps and we are also one of HipChat’s integrations, why don’t we find out more about HipChat’s future strategy on Integrations and ChatOps?
Shannon: We are focused on helping teams collaborate faster with less task and context switching. The way we do this is by providing 2 core elements:
- A Killer API- Developers can build much more valuable integrations inside of HipChat because we don’t limit them to slash commands or cards. We give them access to a fully interactive User Experience.
2. A Great Marketplace: Developers who build for Atlassian can become part of one of the larger enterprise App stores in the game. We’ve paid out over $120m to developers already. Having a prosperous marketplace is the key to building a great ecosystem. In our marketplace, Cloudo is one of the best examples of an integration that helps teams create an optimized workflow.
Lea: Are there some hilarious moments from your HipChat conversations?
Shannon: Tons! Emoticons are a huge part of the HipChat culture and we have a lot of fun creating custom ones. We have teammates’ faces, office dogs, tacos… the possibilities are really endless! Emoticons are a really awesome way to communicate more effectively with your team. These fun moments build camaraderie and help teammates freely express themselves inside of HipChat.
A lot of funny moments also come from a bot called Sassy. You just type a slash command (/gif, /img, or /anim) with any word and Sassy randomly pulls images or gifs into the room. You never know what might be pulled in!
Lea: What will HipChat be focusing on to differentiate yourself from the competition?
Shannon: We will continue to focus on ChatApps that integrate with HipChat and making sure that teams can easily bring their entire workflow into HipChat. ChatApps have the potential to replace the browser at work.
That’s another awesome thing about Cloudo — it brings all of your files into one place, eliminating having millions of browser tabs open.
So what’s the takeaway?
Though it’s not in their exact words, we believe that HipChat will be focusing on ChatOps instead of bots and we don’t see HipChat joining the bot hype in the near future, they are already focusing on what happens when the bot hype dissipates. The HipChat team believes in integrations, believes in bringing things into one place. They see it as the next big thing, and so do we.