The future of our Operator bot is in London

Since its founding, Intercom has been based in Dublin and San Francisco. For our first few years we built our product exclusively in Dublin, but the times are changing.

To accommodate our remarkable growth, we recently expanded to start building product in London and San Francisco (btw we also have customer facing offices in Chicago and Sydney).

The early signs are really encouraging. We opened our London Product and Engineering office only 2 months ago, but we’re already planning our expansion. London is home to many wonderfully talented people, and we’d love for many of them to come work at Intercom.

Intercom's London R&D office

The first Intercom team to base themselves in London work on our Educate product. The second team will work on Operator, and as a result we’re now hiring across the board.

Operator is a really exciting and important part of Intercom’s future. Just launched last August, Operator is the Intercom bot. It is a hugely important part of our product strategy, and one of the things that I and the others leaders of the company see huge potential in. This is something we’ve just scratched the surface with.

We’ve been writing about bots for a few years. We’ve built and tested lots of different types of bots, trying to understand where they work and where they don’t, and the state of maturation of technologies that bots tend to leverage. Operator was the culmination of that work, our first attempt. We deeply believe in shipping to learn, and so we’ve a long way to go with Operator, and some very big plans for its future.

Following is some insight into how we think about Operator and the types of things the team in London will think about, work on, and evolve.

Operator exists at the centre of five huge trends in technology:

1. Messaging

The use of conversational interfaces is increasing at rapid pace. We’ve seen it in our personal lives with WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, etc. and now it is happening within business. We believe that over the next few years, most if not all internet businesses will replace their contact us forms, email addresses and phone numbers with a Messenger on their website and in their app. The benefits of having a fast, personal, direct communication channel between customers and businesses far outweigh the old ways of communicating. The things Operator can do, and will do in the future, live in the Intercom Messenger.

2. A new scale

Because of the internet, businesses are dealing with a new scale, things like a global audience, freemium business models to get many people started, and so the small businesses of today have many many more customers than the small businesses of yesterday. Businesses are looking to new technologies like bots to help them deal with this new scale.

3. Personal

As the internet has permeated through all parts of society over the last two decades, technology spent most of that time getting in the way of people and businesses. Businesses hid behind technology to avoid this new scale because they had no better option, for example things like do-not-reply emails, or turning customers into ticket numbers. But this is changing. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook have forced businesses to come out and talk. To be transparent, to be honest, to put names and faces to their communication – just like it used to be.

From all the businesses we talk to about using Intercom, from Fortune 100 companies to tiny startups, the vast majority of them want to be personal, but they don’t believe they have the tools to do so at this new scale. We believe Operator is a large part of the answer. There is a tension between technologies like bots and personal communication, but we believe there is a best-of-both-worlds answer to this. Bots do the things they are better at, and humans do the things they are better at.

4. Automation

The history of technology is the history of increased automation. Technology doing things people used to do, and freeing people up to do new, better, more challenging work. From the factory line, to self-driving cars. Internet business communication is no different. Technology decides who to send outbound messages to, and increasingly technology fields inbound replies and inbound queries.

5. AI and Machine Learning

Over the past few years we’ve crossed a milestone where AI and ML technologies have moved beyond the academic applications and are becoming more widespread in technology that everyday consumers experience. This is also true in the business communication space, where AI and ML technologies are helping predict and deliver answers to questions people have, or automatically direct customers to the right person in the business to talk to. This is just the start of these technologies becoming widespread inside businesses and communication software.

Our goal with Operator is to understand these megatrends, understand what people want – both businesses and customers – and build something that works for both sides. The future of Operator, and bots in general, is very open ended. This is certainly something that is only getting started.

We’re building our Operator team in London.

Right now we’re hiring a:
Product Manager
Senior Product Designer
Senior Product Researcher
Product Engineers

Whilst the job postings are somewhat generic in terms of experience, we’re hiring at all levels, so if interested, we’d love to hear from you! You can always message us below using the Intercom Messenger, and get a feel for Operator yourself!

If these opportunities are not for you, we’d be hugely appreciative if you could spread the word around the London community ?

Thanks so much!