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Slack competitor Atlassian Stride releases tools for developers

Atlassian Stride, a Slack competitor, has released an API platform. The ability to integrate with business apps and workflow tools is expected to fuel the growth of the team collaboration market.

Atlassian has publicly released an API platform for Stride, the team collaboration platform it launched in September, as it maneuvers to challenge competitors, including Slack, Microsoft Teams and Cisco Spark -- all of which already provide similar developer integration tools.

Nearly 1,000 developers requested early access to the Stride API, which enables third parties to integrate business applications, customer relationship management software, analytics tools and workflow bots into the Stride interface, Atlassian said. The API for Atlassian Stride exited beta on Tuesday.

Today, most team collaboration apps offer a similar set of tools, including instant messaging, file sharing and web conferencing. Moving forward, a platform's ability to support integrations will be a crucial differentiator in the highly competitive market, said Alan Lepofsky, a principal analyst with Constellation Research Inc., based in Cupertino, Calif.

"In the early days of this market, that's really what drove a lot of Slack adoption. You look at how many bots and integrations can happen in there," Lepofsky said. "So, for Atlassian to effectively compete in this space, this API is critical."

Law firms, medical offices and government agencies each have specific workflows and business needs. Customizable integrations with existing applications will make enterprises in those verticals and others more likely to adopt team collaboration apps like Atlassian Stride -- and perhaps more likely to pay for them, said Jon Arnold, principal of Toronto-based research and analysis firm J Arnold & Associates.

"These companies survive because they have investors who are backing them," Arnold said of collaboration startups like Slack. "But that can only take them so far. Eventually, they have to convert to paid users [and] generate sustainable revenues that make it a real business."

Team collaboration vendors race to support integrations

These companies survive because they have investors who are backing them. But that can only take them so far.
Jon Arnoldprincipal of J Arnold & Associates

With a portfolio that includes Jira Software, Confluence and Bitbucket, Atlassian is well-positioned to leverage its existing customer base, which consists mostly of developers, to create a robust integration ecosystem for Stride -- the successor to HipChat. But Atlassian Stride faces an uphill battle.

While Atlassian Stride claims tens of thousands of teams among its users, that pales in comparison to Slack's 6 million daily users. The market's other vendors include startups like Flock and Redkix, established players like Unify Circuit and Alcatel-Lucent Rainbow, and UC leaders like Microsoft and Cisco. 

Cisco has been proactive about opening its Spark platform to developers, an endeavor aided by its 2015 acquisition of Tropo, a cloud API platform. Microsoft has developer integration tools for Teams, but also benefits from native access to the Office 365 platform used by 120 million businesses.

Still, no vendor can claim dominance in the nascent team collaboration market, Lepofsky said. "As much as people like to talk about Slack, it's got 6 million users. That's wonderful for a startup, but that's far from dominant in any way, shape or form in this industry."

While integrations will fuel the team collaboration market's growth, enterprises need to be careful the new interfaces don't become as cluttered as email inboxes, Lepofsky said.

"I always encourage customers to be cautious about integration and also cautious about overloading the stream," Lepofksy said. "It's wonderful to talk about bringing information together into one area and providing content around that, but it also becomes overwhelming."

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