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Atlassian Jira shrinks ITSM competitive gaps with ThinkTilt

Atlassian Jira Service Management chips away at incumbent ITSM vendors' market lead with low-code/no-code IP from ThinkTilt, but it must keep adding features to fully catch up.

Atlassian's Jira Service Management ITSM tool will build in a low-code/no-code interface for business users through the acquisition of partner ThinkTilt.

Based in Brisbane, Australia, ThinkTilt built a GUI that automates the creation of service forms for users of Atlassian's Jira software and sells it through the Atlassian Marketplace. The tool, ProForma, works with both the Jira Software error tracking tool and Jira Service Management IT Service Management (ITSM) product, formerly known as Jira Service Desk. Post-acquisition integration for ThinkTilt will focus on the latter product, however, according to a company blog post.

The move pushes Atlassian's focus further beyond IT and DevOps into enterprise service management (ESM) for business buyers such as marketing, legal and HR departments. This strategy began in earnest with Atlassian's launch of Jira Service Management in November. Market interest in ESM has grown as the COVID-19 pandemic and shifts to remote work prompted organizations to replace informal "water cooler" knowledge sharing with shared software services.

Low-code/no-code tools, which hide most or all of the underlying programming language from nontechnical users, are a core component of ESM products, and ProForma represents a key element of that low-code/no-code product model, according to one industry analyst.

Charles Betz, Forrester ResearchCharles Betz

"I break it down into three subdomains," said Charles Betz, an analyst at Forrester Research who tracks ESM and ITSM products. "There's the data model, which [Atlassian] addressed with its [Mindville configuration management database] acquisition; there's workflow, and Jira has always been a workflow engine; and then the third component is the forms and GUI."

Such interfaces harness code-based automation to create repeatable, well-documented workflows, but make them accessible to business units for customization, Betz said.

Still, while significant, the acquisition of ThinkTilt doesn't complete Atlassian's entry into ESM, or bring it to full parity with ESM market leaders such as ServiceNow and BMC, he added.

Atlassian ITSM to-do list includes data analytics

Atlassian's recent acquisitions, from Code Barrel to ThinkTilt, have followed a similar pattern of buying Atlassian Marketplace partners, and Atlassian should continue with M&A to improve Jira as an ESM tool, Betz said.

"We've got to make shared services more effective," Betz said. "They're typically not popular [among end users], because there's too much waiting, too much bureaucracy."

We've got to make shared services more effective.
Charles BetzAnalyst, Forrester Research

The next significant competitive gap for Atlassian to address is expanding data analytics for all its ESM, ITSM and DevOps tools, something enterprise customers have asked for in the last two years as the Jira portfolio expanded.

Analytics could help make ESM workflows more effective, by establishing the same practices of measurement and continuous improvement used in Agile and DevOps workflows for external services, according to Betz. ServiceNow and other competitors such as Digital.ai are moving in this direction, he said.

Atlassian has partners in data analytics already, and other potential acquisition targets in companies such as Celonis, Betz said. Betz also pointed to Evolven as a potential match that would help Atlassian fill in change management and risk assessment analytics, another important aspect of performance measurement within ESM.

Atlassian includes analytics in its Confluence Cloud service and plans to add more data-based insights based on its Chartio acquisition for the rest of its cloud tools, including Jira, later this year, a company spokesperson said.

Beth Pariseau, senior news writer at TechTarget, is an award-winning veteran of IT journalism. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @PariseauTT.

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