Most IT support professionals are pretty sure their jobs won't disappear anytime soon. Companies rely on technology in almost every aspect of their work, and that technology needs to run smoothly. Often it does not, and the IT professionals come in to save the day. Clients would frequently say to me when helping them with an issue, "you must think I'm so dumb!" My response was always the same, "If you knew how to do everything that I know how to do, I would be out of a job!"
It seems there is a company looking to replace the traditional help desk with automated, intelligent support provided over the chat platform, Slack. Founded in October 2016, Electric claims to allow small and midsize offices get fast, efficient IT support across their organizations directly through Slack by providing intelligent recommendations for software and system upgrades. Since inception, Electric has signed over 130 customers and expanded service from their home market in New York to include a growing list of US cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
The company recently announced a successful Series A funding round that raised $9.3 million. The funding was led by Bessemer Venture Partners and includes significant participation from Bowery Capital and Primary Venture Partners. Bob Goodman from Bessemer will be joining Electric's board of directors. Electric stated that their plans are to use the new capital to develop a national sales footprint, and to achieve ‘significant’ levels of task automation for the core technology platforms they are supporting.
The question is, how intelligent is the current platform? To be successful, it would have to offer more than what is currently being offered through voicemail prompts that regularly get ignored. Most people who are trying to get help skip ahead to get a hold of a live person when presented with options to help themselves on the phone.
It is currently not clear if there will be live people to chat with as the problem becomes too complicated for the automated system. If there are, it is also not clear who would be providing this live assistance. For example, could an MSP repackage the platform and customize it for specific clients that regularly need help with proprietary platforms? The main question is will people finally tolerate being helped through an AI system, or will they continue to hit zero to speak with a live operator?