Our thoughts on what it means to be part of an ecosystem, and what it takes to survive ten years in tech.
Ten years in tech is no mean feat! 521 weeks of growing, evolving, and delivering a service that is as relevant today as it was yesterday. That is exactly what The Atlassian Marketplace has done. And we are thrilled to have been part of all 3652.5 days of that journey.
It got us thinking, what does it take to survive ten years in tech? We chatted with some Adaptavist folk to get their thoughts on why community is key and what the next ten years will look like.
The Atlassian Marketplace is donating $5 to Raspberry Pi* for every app installed on its birthday, 30 May, so there’s no better time to go download what you need.
What does it take to survive 10 years in a marketplace economy such as Atlassian's?
Simon Haighton-Williams, CEO: I’d say a degree of resilience, foresight or blind faith, and a willingness to accept trade offs and compromises.
On re-reading, that sentence sounds a bit bleak! However, let me explain. Back before the marketplace, each vendor had to build its own technology for selling and managing licences and deploying software onto the Atlassian platform. A decade ago these sort of marketplaces were still novel. The Apple App store was only four years old!
The big idea around the Marketplace hasn’t changed at all. Buy the non-core functionality you want for the Atlassian platform and extend it in the ways you like, and Atlassian takes a slice of the fee.
In the detail however so much has changed. Moving from Server and its simple perpetual licencing model, adding an optional DC set of products, making them non-optional, and then spooling up a SaaS model. Atlassian hiring an army of people to tinker with the underlying economics in the shadows… it’s been quite a ride. We’ve managed it by having the best people, and the best products that do the things that customers want and need. Get those fundamentals right and you can deal with the other stuff.
I think a better way to frame this idea might be: “What do companies who make the most success out of an ecosystem do best?” While the Atlassian Marketplace has its challenges, it also represents a significant building block to our success.
Neal Riley, CIO: Vendors who make the most out of an ecosystem, specifically Atlassian’s, build defensively first and foremost. Planning for the worst-case scenarios: outages, unforeseen changes, and shifts in the platform can smooth out potential customer experience issues down the road.
Ruth Collett, Head of Marketing: We agreed unanimously that the key to success is to put customers first. To be reactive, to listen, anticipate needs and deliver more, not bells and whistles, but genuinely added value. Being part of the Atlassian Marketplace has allowed us to do this and we have, and continue to grow as a result.
"To be successful you have to continually listen to your customers, engage with them, and delight them."
But as Jon Mort puts it very wisely, you also need a sense of humour, and a good set of products–one just won’t cut it! A good relationship with the centre of the ecosystem and an even better relationship with those in it.
What does it mean to be part of a community like the one that's built up around the Atlassian Marketplace?
Jon Mort, CTO: Being part of something greater than the sum of its parts, you have to know where you sit in the community landscape. You also have to be aware of your influence if you're one of the larger players–people will follow you. It also means having your brand tied to others, there is some reputational risk if those you partner with have reputational damage. But it also provides huge opportunities to collaborate, sometimes with competitors.
Ruth Collett, Head of Marketing: When you are operating within an ecosystem, whether it’s Atlassian or another, you have an incredible opportunity to have a fantastic relationship with both your customers and the vendors–not purely Atlassian but also all the other partners within the marketplace. Our success is built not only alongside Atlassian’s success but also with others within the ecosystem. These mutually beneficial relationships are what make ecosystems such an advantageous space to operate within. Advantageous for everyone.
Neal Riley, CIO: The community built around the Atlassian Marketplace comprises many different members. Our shared experiences can be vast, but at its core we all work as a superset of the wider Atlassian story: that the modification of the out-of-the-box solution Atlassian provides nets significant benefit to people every day.
"Our membership in this community goes far beyond a commercial one. We share our experiences, listen to customers' stories, and contribute to the shared story of effective, efficient, and emergent teams using Atlassian tools every day."
Simon Haighton-Williams, CEO: I’d say it’s rather pleasant! The Marketplace community and the wider Atlassian community of partners beyond it is one of the nicer spaces to work in. People are friendly, supportive, and generally willing to help each other out within the bounds of commerciality. I don’t know if it’s unique, but it’s certainly rare, and to be cherished.
It’s notable that all of the largest vendors have been in the space for a long time. There are no big bad interlopers with the wrong kind of behaviours, because in that sense the Marketplace community seems to be good at managing its own hygiene.
What will the future of tech marketplaces like Atlassian's look like?
Simon Haighton-Williams, CEO: Whoo.. That’s a big question!
“Walled garden” shopping experiences provide a (sometimes valid) sense of security, but conversely create an environment where the organisation running it can potentially abuse that position for its own purposes. The argument between authority and trust vs freedom is as old as the hills. There’s a version of this debate running around the world at the moment, often framed by legalities around the Apple App store.
I suspect that things are going to change, and organisations will be regulated in the ways they have to act in order to allow their customers to buy add-ons to their platforms. The Atlassian marketplace is probably the second or third largest B2B software marketplace in the world. This a very active space!
Neal Riley, CIO: Who knows?
There’s been stagnation in development, not simply in Atlassian’s marketplace but in others as well. There are forces acting on these Marketplaces, including emerging legal challenges and mandates, which will force a shift in the way these Marketplaces operate. The future is wide open, and rest assured the Adaptavist Group will be playing its part to guide and shape this.
Ruth Collett, Head of Marketing: It will be interesting to see how the EU’s Digital Markets Act (which comes in late 2022) and other similar legislation starts to level the playing field, boosting further innovation and growth.
"I think they will become more open as a result of legislation and we will see the rise of aggregate marketplaces."
- Life is better together! Collaborate with your competitors. Learn from, and with them. Raise standards together.
- Focus on the customer first and foremost. Keep listening, and never stop evolving.
- The future is wide open, so always be ready and willing to explore.
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*The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a UK-based charity that works to put the power of computing and digital making into the hands of people all over the world. They do this so that more people are able to harness the power of computing and digital technologies for work, solve problems that matter to them, and express themselves creatively. To find out more head to their website.