Thesis: Intercom for X

The thesis

I believe that we will see the emergence of many Intercom-style applications. That is, plug’n’play SaaS sw that augments your software in a full-stack way, in a particular feature domain, which means that it will offer features that connect directly to the user, a back-office for saas operators, APIs, etc.

Competition within software categories is growing. On top of that, users increasingly demand top notch, custom experiences. As a result, companies must offer best-in-class solutions to their users AND at the same time they have to test variations and adaptations of those features to their specific needs.

Meanwhile, the ever growing demand for more software has also increased the cost of running engineering, product and design teams. The complexity of solutions creates many layers of frameworks, server and local code, data and UI, all of which are hard to build and harder to perfect.

Intercom style businesses are well positioned to offer businesses a lot of value. With them, companies get the fastest time-to-market. Because the Intercom’s are domain experts, they provide proven solutions. They give businesses a full-stack software from day 1: UX, software, metrics, backoffice, all is included. Lastly, they give teams the power to customize things to their needs, without consuming precious engineering time.

Signs in the market

There are 2 measurable elements that make me believe this thesis is correct:

The original player

Intercom offers companies a simple trade-off:

The beauty of their solution is that once you add the code snippet, almost everything is automatic and configurable in their platform. You can always add more or less bells and whistles later.

No more engineering time, launching experiments, etc. Once you install the product, it’s also sticky. Your marketing team depends on it, and uses more and more of those features, making a migration or insourcing increasingly unlikely.

Key ingredients

Key benefit

Speed. With Intercom, marketing operates at the speed of marketing, not at the speed of tech.

Vs Other solutions

More observations

Some newer players operate here:

Some of the players start with low-investment integrations (1hour or less) which provide the essentials of the service, but to get full benefits you have to consume their SDK or API more fully. It is my conviction though that you should be able to achieve a Low-code solution with a one-time investment only plus infrequent maintenance for breaking changees. In the end, it’s all code. BE state sync, a gateway API or FE code should be able to provide the injection of the “intercom” solution throughout.