An Enlightening Interview with Freespee’s CTO Niklas Malmgren

Freespee’s CTO Niklas Malmgren recently moved from his position as VP of engineering to CTO; we had a few questions for Niklas regarding his new role and vision for Freespee!

Where and how did you get your start in the tech space?

Niklas: I’ve always been a computer enthusiast, but it took three years behind the wheel of a taxi to realise I wanted a career in tech. I got my  break and learned the trade at online payments company Klarna. I worked there from 2011 to 2016, and it was an amazing journey both personally and professionally. The company grew from 400 to 1400 employees during this period. I started as a developer and ended up a manager.

Do you think driving a taxi helped with how you understand consumer communication?

Niklas: Maybe. You do need to be able to communicate with a wide range of people as a taxi driver; I had conversations with everyone, from bums to billionaires.

How has Freespee’s technology grown since your first day there?

Niklas: I’m proud of the significant improvements the team has made to the tech stack since I joined Freespee. We’ve created a new framework for segments and workflows, and we’ve built a great, scalable software architecture for Freespee Talk, our consumer communication software. We have some of the best tech talent in Uppsala [Sweden], and everyone is really focused on crafting sustainable, stable solutions.

How does VP of Engineering compare and contrast with CTO?

Niklas: I’ve had to learn to delegate! Adding Product to my list of responsibilities has meant more focus on strategies and processes. And recruitment. We have so many open positions right now.

How tuned in to consumer communication do Freespee squads need to be?

Niklas: We want to be the experts in how consumers and our clients/companies want to communicate, so these are essential skills for every employee. But the good thing is that customer communication is something everyone can relate to. As consumers, all of us have bad and good experiences from trying to communicate with companies.

What is in the tech stack and what are you currently up to?

Niklas: We’re currently learning more about how our clients want to communicate with their consumers, as we’re putting the finishing touches on our new product, Freespee Talk.  Together with our contextual routing, Freespee Talk will revolutionise the way consumers, and companies connect.

Would you say contextual routing is the rockstar of our system?

Niklas: Contextual routing is definitely a killer feature. It’s extremely powerful, and it has made it so much easier to explain to friends and family exactly how Freespee simplifies communication. But it’s a budding rock star. It will become immensely more powerful, useful, and intelligent down the line. Wait and see!

Tell us about trends you’re noticing in the cloud telephony eco-system?

Niklas: Voice bots is a hot topic at the moment. Used wisely it can have an immensely positive impact on consumer experience. Used mindlessly it will significantly degrade the experience. Knowing when to connect you to voice bot and when to connect to a human is essential. Do they only want to know opening hours or something more complicated? Does a bot better solve a more straightforward question? It will be a better consumer experience if we can connect you to a bot straight away instead of waiting in a queue. Anything that improves consumer experience by saving time and money is a win-win. The focus on consumer experience will continue to grow, especially combined with leveraging the data that’s available.

What should potential clients know about our API?

Niklas: We have really versatile and powerful API that allows you not only to fetch data but to do just about anything with your account. Handle campaigns, retrieve phone numbers. It’s used by some of Europe’s largest online marketplaces.

Can you share your plans for the future of our platform?

Niklas: You’re going to see us finding new ways of making our customer’s data truly useful to them. And we will continue improving the consumer experience by launching our first consumer-facing widget. On the tech side, as Freespee is expanding, we will put a lot effort into ensuring an even more scalable platform.

What are the challenges facing our industry?

Niklas: Right now, it’s definitely regulations. We have made considerable investments making sure we respect the new EU data protection legislation, GDPR, and we are right now putting the finishing touches on our platform to ensure full compliance.

Soon You’ll Have Control Of The $1.3 Trillion Communication Stack

  • The communication technology stack is connecting businesses with consumers in real time, and has been doing so since the invention of the telegram. The number of consumers who chose to talk to brands during 2015, by chat or phone, as part of their decision process is by far more common than the total amount of online checkouts that were made during the same year. Yet, the communication technology stack is a legacy, on premise solutions that are disconnected from the Internet. In a typical organisation 1 out of 1,000 employees have access to this technology. The remaining 999 team members can do nothing about your response time via chat, the average is 7 minutes, or your IVR tree having 6 questions that very few have the energy to answer.
  • This comes with implications for your business. Everyone that you employed over the last five years to manage your growing online audience has no access to your communication technology stack. Hence, if your online visitor chooses to call you, they are met by an IVR (Interactive Voice Response), which you probably haven’t changed for the last 10 years. If the same person chooses to complete an online checkout, they are delivered a digital experience where you change the content dynamically based on what you know about this visitor. This delivers two completely different brand experiences. One visitor will probably return, and it’s not the person who chose to call you. That consumer is already buying from someone else, and they are often purchasing a higher value product when compared to the pure online consumer. This is why they needed to ask a couple of questions as part of the transaction process.
  • The only reason why your organisation is ignoring these high value customers is because they cannot access the communication technology stack and constantly iterate towards a better consumer experience.
  • But this is changing, and the impact will be dramatic. Developers can today build tailored communication applications in 5 minutes using communication APIs like Twilio. The successful IPO of Twilio shows the recognition and massive need by companies to remove the communication stack from its silo and integrate it into the wider business. Twilio made it possible for developers to use the communication stack to solve problems that used to be unsolvable, like secure 2-way authentication. Twilio is used by more than 28,000 web developers on monthly basis who use the power of conversational technology interfaces.
  • The next step in this evolution is for non-developers to get easy access to the communication stack. Marketers and ecommerce professionals that want to make sure every single visitor gets a first class user experience. This will kill the traditional IVR once and for all, as soon as they can manage the conversational interfaces with the same simplicity as they manage the online forms and the online checkout process.
  • Have you ever met a consumer that likes to click 1 for “X”, click 2 for “Y”, and then if they return, you ask them the same questions again? Probably not. Who decides what in the $1,3 Trillion communication technology stack is about to change. If you still do not believe me, check out the growth of Twilio, you can now monitor it online: