I sat in an Intuit Partner Platform (IPP) developer session last week for about 3 hours at the Scaling New Heights conference because I viewed this as probably the best source for getting the ‘real line’, if not the ‘gossip’, on what was going to happen to such Intuit products as QuickBooks Online, the newest version of the App Center now called intuit.Apps.com, as well as the ‘desktop’ versions of QuickBooks.
Among the topics were Avi Golan’s presentation, where he as Intuit’s Partner Platform General Manager and Vice President, presented the direction of the platform which continues to be centered around QuickBooks (online) serving as the operating system behind small business. Intuit is aiming for an ecosystem in which every conceivable form of application is connectable to QBO via their open platform API.
Because QBO is the future of Intuit, as opposed to ‘desktop products’, many users and developers remain hesitant about that direction because of the significant differences in feature set that exists between the two product formats. Desktop products continue to offer features, especially within the high-end versions of QuickBooks Enterprise that QuickBooks Online does not even remotely offer. When asked by a member of the audience when he expected QuickBooks Online ‘to have parity’ with QuickBooks ‘desktop’, Mr. Golan’s reply was essentially “never.” He went on to clarify that he didn’t envision a time when QuickBooks Online, in and of itself would have all the features desktop offers today; however, when you couple QBO with other Apps the feature set will ultimately have equivalency and may even exceed the desktop versions as we know them.
Intuit is clearly striving for an environment in which ‘feature rich’ Apps supplement QuickBooks Online to provide additional functions and capabilities, all working through the open API, and all within the secure confines of Intuit’s cloud based connectivity. This approach provides an additional level of security and data integrity that exceeds the capabilities previously available to desktop products via the SDK (software developers’ kit) because IPP developers must integrate within the confines of Intuit controls, whereas SDK developers frequently deviated from accepted practices.
Recently Intuit introduced the Mac App for QBO which provides a Mac-based interface that makes the QuickBooks Online experience appear not only ‘Mac friend, but Mac-native.’ While QuickBooks for Mac is still offered, and will most likely continue to be in the near future, Intuit is hoping that the ‘Mac App for QBO’ will result in an expanded migration to QuickBooks online, this time attracting traditional QB-Mac users. Because the feature sets of QB-Mac and QBO are more closely aligned, it may well be that a large number of Mac users will chose NOW as the perfect time to make the migration.
While Brad Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer of Intuit, said during his general session remarks at the Scaling New Heights conference, that there will continue to be QuickBooks desktop products, because “Intuit has no desire to leave millions of desktop users behind” we can only wonder what the definition of ‘desktop products’ truly will be since everyone now realizes that QBO is the foreseeable future of Intuit.
Some QuickBooks users speculate that QuickBooks (windows) may become more like the ‘Mac App for QBO’ in which a desktop native application is simply a link to QuickBooks Online with the real core of the functionality dictated by QBO and the Apps attached to it. Still others speculate that that the ‘desktop version’ of QuickBooks may become an actual ‘App’ providing functionality found within the current desktop to QuickBooks Online, no different than any other ‘App’ providing specialized features not otherwise found within QBO itself. Under a similar scenario, QB-desktop might simply be another type of ‘connector’ that permits other Apps to tie via the desktop to the QBO platform through sophisticate API connectivity such as that which might be provided by the Connection Cloud product Intuit purchased just a year ago.
While the future appears to be ‘cloud driven’, in the same way computers once changed from mainframes to PC’s, and later local-networks evolved into internet based wide-area networks, who truly knows what the future of 5 or 10 years will bring? Intuit has been around a long time since its’ founder, Scott Cook and his wife, first set around the kitchen table discussing ‘a better way of keeping a checkbook.’ Intuit's future is OUR future!
In 1962 Walt Disney coined a term that implied we must not allow 'present day engineering' to limit "imaginary development for the future." Imagineering led the Disney concepts Walt oversaw until his death, and continues to be a driving force in the legacy he left behind.
We can not let our notions of how 'things currently are' convince us that they must always remain the same; if we do that then we are still back at that 'checkbook' sitting on Scott Cook's kitchen table. Intuit clearly understands the principles of 'imagineering'; the VIP-40 witnessed that last year in just a 2-day concept-to-reality QBO upgrade project.
I firmly believe that with the experience, vision and market share Intuit possesses they will be around a ‘long, long time’ and be taking small businesses, and the companion accounting industry, into a future where “nobody has gone before.”