AI And The Future Of Teamwork: Friend Or Foe? With Atlassian’s Sumita Mukherjee

Business people group meeting shot from top view in office . Profession businesswomen, businessmen and office workers working in team conference with project planning document on meeting table .

In this interview, Sumita Mukherjee, senior engineering manager at Atlassian, weighs in on the key drivers of AI adoption in tech, and how she envisions its impact on the future of teamwork.

A recent study by KPMG showed most Australians have very clear expectations of the principles and practices they expect organisations deploying AI systems to uphold in order to be trusted. 

More than 70 per cent of people surveyed would be more willing to use AI systems if assurance mechanisms were in place, such as independent AI ethics reviews, AI ethics certifications, national standards for transparency, and AI codes of conduct.

Atlassian CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes recently stated in his Team 23 keynote speech: “with AI we are experiencing a seismic transformation that is going to change the way we work forever.”

So is AI a friend or foe for the future of teamwork? Let’s hear from the insider’s perspective of Sumita Mukherjee, who lives by Grace Hopper’s words: “a ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.”

Sumita Mukherjee, senior engineering manager, Atlassian

Thank you for joining us, Sumita. To start, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Atlassian?
Being a software engineer has always been my childhood aspiration, which was not so common back then in India, especially with less support for women in tech and lack of mentors. 

After my Masters, I started my career in the tech world and have been leading tech teams for a decade now.

My latest “big leap” involved moving to Australia to Join Atlassian as an engineering manager, leaving a comfortable life back in India, where I have worked for around 15 years. I have worked with several teams in Atlassian including commerce, Jira service management and now ecosystem platform. 

Being a woman in leadership positions across the globe has taught me a lot of life lessons. I am a strong believer that women can have it all, and do not have to choose one over the other, in terms of career and family. It needs extreme discipline, self care, ruthless prioritisation and family support.

AI is obviously a major trend in the tech world. How do you see AI impacting the future of teamwork?
AI powered by collaborative intelligence will help build stronger, more efficient teams in the future, elevating teamwork to greater heights. It will change how teams think, function, discuss and make decisions, forever.  

Some of the areas where I see AI positively impacting the future of teamwork are: increasing team productivity, improving decision making, improving team collaboration and communication. AI can also be commodified for different industries such as education, agriculture, and healthcare.

Naturally, there’s also a lot of concern around AI. What are the key drivers of trust and acceptance of AI?
AI gives organisations immense power to achieve the impossible. However, with power comes responsibility. In today’s world, trust and acceptance in AI is driven by both technical and non-technical aspects.

I believe we need conscious human intervention to make our machines learn and function responsibly.

For example, Atlassian has published its responsible technology principles that outline its commitments to acting responsibly in building, deploying and using new technologies, including AI. 

Have there been any examples of the benefits of AI across industries that have caught your eye recently, particularly when it comes to teamwork?
The most important revolutionary benefit that caught my eye recently is its impact in healthcare. 

Today, medical practitioners team up with AI to perform robotic surgeries. Analysing large patient data sets can help AI models to analyse medical images more efficiently and provide diagnosis and treatment faster. It’s teamwork, and both are complementary to another.

Another great example I have seen most recently, is how AI enhances Atlassian’s customer support teams and increases their efficiency in terms of scale and responding to repetitive tasks.

Is Atlassian utilising any benefits of AI to help solve complex problems?
Teamwork is complex, and creating products and systems powered by AI not only needs out-of-the-box algorithms, but also appropriate data sets. Atlassian is not new in this space, though. We have been using AI for a while now via machine learning models to enhance core experiences. 

Atlassian’s Data Lake provides access to Atlassian data across all the cloud products with enhanced capabilities via Atlassian Analytics, and this helps provide great insights into customer action and behaviour patterns. Atlassian “Smarts” launched a few years back to use machine learning to enable smart, cross product searches. 

Most recently, Atlassian announced the launch of Atlassian Intelligence to “help unleash the potential of every team” by embedding intelligence in our cloud products using Large Language and generative AI models.

As an Atlassian myself, I often take these capabilities for granted, but can not imagine functioning without them!




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