Software developers have had a long-standing love affair with agile methodologies. Now, it seems that the rest of the business world is starting to realize that agile provides not only a better way to work, but also an easier path to collaborative business development.

Atlassian’s JIRA issue-tracking system recently split into two new versions: one targeted at help desks, the other at generic usage. That leaves developers with their own targeted version, including all the bells and whistles for dealing with enterprise software development.

But why make a software development tool available for other departments? Is this what the market is demanding?

According to Atlassian’s president Jay Simons, “Part of the key to JIRA’s success is that it’s a product that is desired by technical people because it’s accessible to non-software people. As people are exposed to it, they understand the virtues and want the capabilities on other projects.”

GitHub too sees usage of its services by non-software developers for non-software purposes. Sam Lambert, director of systems at GitHub, said that GitHub leads the way internally by using its service for typical business work.

“People are applying our workflow to other areas,” he said. “We do Continuous Integration on blog posts that checks for grammar, images, text, and runs Continuous Integrations against it. That’s a workflow, applied backward to writing. We’re seeing more and more industries [using it].”

GitHub is currently used, for example, by museums such as New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. These museums are keeping copies of their assets online for use by developers who might want to visualize or otherwise process that information.

Video-pushing limits
One area where workflows are changing is in marketing. At Space Camp, a recent conference in San Francisco focused on video marketing, the presentations were filled with stories of marketers building workflows online with ever-evolving storage of cloud-hosted content.

As one would expect from a conference focused on video, there were flashy presentations; HapnApp’s CEO Richard Everts smashed an iPad on-stage with a sledgehammer, for example. The event’s keynote speaker was Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, and members of the Vidyard management team wandered around in space suits.

Rob Bois, director of product marketing at Plex Systems, spoke at the conference on the topic of building and spreading videos about his company’s manufacturing automation systems. Plex is currently pushing into the Internet of Things with a cloud-hosted manufacturing ERP system.

Despite being a marketing director, Bois’ talk sounded suspiciously like a software development talk, particularly when he discussed analytics and metrics. In fact, it sounded suspiciously like the story of a development manager saddled with making sense of an enterprise-wide software landscape.

“We had this real data problem,” said Bois. “Our videos were in lots of different places. We were trying to track things in Google Analytics. We were trying to share them with salespeople on Dropbox. It was a significant challenge.

“Even if I could get these metrics, they’re not answering those important questions: Who’s watching our videos? Are videos influencing our funnels? When you’re spending US$30,000 to $50,000 on a video and you can’t point to ROI on that…that’s not a conversation I want to have with my CFO.”

Bois said that, as his video strategies were implemented, he kept the number of people involved small, as everyone has opinions on video—not unlike software UI. He added that he did not bring IT in on his projects initially either.

Tools expanding
Back at GitHub, even the lawyers are using Git to manage the development of their contracts. This sort of homegrown usage is typical at GitHub.

Atlassian, on the other hand, has been slowly building a body of third-party tools that can expand JIRA to take care of things like contracts.

“I think we’ve already got a really strong toehold for people looking to take JIRA even further,” said Simons. “There’s an opportunity for the ecosystem to build on top of these three offerings. In the same way one of the key add-ons for JIRA is contracting. That’s a good example: We don’t need to build because our ecosystem builds it. With JIRA Service and JIRA Core, there’s a long tail of opportunity for third parties to build things on top of JIRA.”