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Can we replace Kone.io’s user database with Intercom? With almost all user data already there, this is an interesting idea. We are going to find it out!

When we start to build Kone.io, our first user “database” was a simple JSON file. Having experienced the complexity of planning user databases in the past, we were in a hurry to begin coding. JSON was a good choice for Kone.io’s backend, built by Node.js, and it was easy to visually perceive outlines of user database. Naturally, this solution quickly reached its limitations and we moved users and accounts to a MongoDB database. As MongoDB is based on JSON documents, migration was almost a drop in task. Deeper planning of hierarchy and relations of users, accounts, roles, permissions etc was pushed again to the future.

One of our main design goals of Kone.io was quick and comfortable customer support. Hence we have used Intercom since early days. First it was simple chatting platform but we quickly noticed it was made for much more than that. We used it daily to track user movements and to try to help them before they even needed to ask. It gave us a clear and detailed view on how our beloved users were using the product.

A few days ago I realised we have almost identical data of users already at Intercom as we have on our database. Why try to keep two datastorage syncronised? Additionally, Intercom’s concept of grouping users with companies was so close to our current way of grouping users with accounts, I started to believe our user database outlines were actually in good shape already.

Using Intercom for a master user database is an interesting idea. It is not cheap, but as long as we use it anyway, why not make the most of it. Basic user controller features like adding, removing, sorting, searching and tracking users are already there. And in custom variables you can save your application specific data. Node.js API bindings gives an easy access to all data and methods.

I have strong feeling we are going try to move our master user database to Intercom, and the coming weeks will show us how this worked.