On 13 February 2013, Rally Software acquired Flowdock and its messaging platform, which integrates with more than 35 systems, including social platforms (such as Twitter) and development tools (such as Rally's AgileZen, GitHub, Zendesk and Atlassian Jira).
Rally's portfolio will benefit from Flowdock's unified communications and collaboration (UCC) features, broadening the company's appeal beyond its current reach to software development teams. Agile development (in which Rally is a leader) relies on a high degree of collaboration, bringing together developers and all members of the product team. Flowdock, which can be used by any team, not just application development, will provide a good addition to Rally to enable effective whole product teams. It will also enable Rally to connect with a wider audience, which is critical as the adoption of agile development techniques continues.
The acquisition will help development teams using Rally products deal with the growing number of information streams they face, including email, instant messaging and social feeds, as well as traditional development work products such as requirements.
Organizations often already have tools for messaging and collaboration. Ending up with more than one system will lead to information being scattered, and the benefit of a unified system will be lost.
Team members need to be "in the flow," with all the required decision-making information in hand. When this information is scattered in different tools, or decision information is not communicated effectively across the team, the flow is broken and productivity falls. This is partly why teams move from a whiteboard for agile management to software, and why UCC has become a key element in the application development and lifecycle management (ADLM) tool space. The goal is to facilitate communication and connection to the community involved in delivering the product or service. Flowdock allows team members to aggregate information and conversations from several input sources to provide a richer in-context collaborative conversation.
The best situation for agile teams is co-location, but often this is not possible, especially for extended team members. Unified messaging systems will help mitigate some of the challenges and provide an electronic record, shared by the team, of conversations and decisions.
Flowdock's key components include its tag features (similar to Mac Things) and its history feature (which describes the journey from A to B). Tags enable the simple assignment of things to specific users or groups. The tool provides an easy way to combine the streams of communication across the project into a single location.
Collaboration is playing a greater role in many products in the ADLM market. Rally's acquisition of Flowdock is similar to Atlassian's purchase of HipChat: We are starting to see leading companies in the area of agile development continue to build and buy functionality that better enables collaborative workflows.
Development teams using Rally products and disparate messaging tools:
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