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Is Intuit changing the software landscape?

by Dennis Howlett on 06.06.2009 12:25
In the UK, we tend to think of Sage as the default choice among accountants looking for an accounting package that will carry the small and medium sized enterprise through their formative years and often beyond. That's fine for accounting but the landscape is changing.

SMBs often have the same needs as large businesses which in turn means integrated solutions that include accounting, payroll, HR, CRM, project management, logistics and a welter of other small but important applications. As we know, there isn't a single software vendor on the planet capable of building everything every business will need. Integrated solutions usually come with a hefty price tag.

But what if there was a company that could help business discover and integrate all that it needs? That would change the game. This is what Intuit Partner Platform is hoping to deliver.

On the one hand it acts as a vendor marketplace where developers can show off their wares. On the other hand it provides a single place where customers can login and acquire functionality that passes data between applications without requiring any re-keying. If you know about Salesforce.com's AppExchange then you'll be familiar with the concept.

Last week I spent time looking at the offering and talking to interested parties in an effort to assess what IPP means. I've concluded that it is a good idea but still very early in the thinking. I also wonder whether the company will invest sufficiently for IPP to travel outside its native US. As with just about everything I review these days, it is a saas offering.

One point I made that is relevant to professionals:

What would be the most obvious application that could be developed for IPP? Practice management and automation tied in with accounts production. Yet in my conversation with the two Alexes, that is not yet something they’ve seen. Why do I say that?

Professionals recognize that there are plenty of options for small businesses but given the chance, they’d prefer to work with one application. That was the rationale behind Sage building the Accountant’s Club. The difference here is that IPP would allow clients to flesh out what they need they way they need while allowing the professional with a common interface into any and all clients using Quickbooks.

Given the caveats I made, does this get your attention? Could this be valuable enough to make you think about your client portfolio in a different way?