Tech Spheres

Discussion of Web 2.0 Business Strategies (SaaS, PaaS, Strategy, Enterprise, Small Business, Flex)

Archive for the ‘IPP’ Category

Video from the team building a new app on the Intuit Partner Platform

Posted by Alex Chriss on February 28, 2009

 Check out the new video describing an beta Intuit app from the payroll team built on the Intuit Partner Platform.  I love having a platform that both internal and external teams can leverage – building one big ecosystem!


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New App Launch and Video Interview with Intuit Partner building in Flex

Posted by Alex Chriss on December 13, 2008

Alex Barnett just posted a new interview with Joe Dwyer from Dwyer Technology.  Joe recently launched his app, Trigger Connect on the Intuit Partner Platform and talks about building his app, with no flex experience, in about 6 weeks.  Trigger Connect allows companies using Intuit QuickBooks to easily synch their customer data to the web and then keep their entire team on the same page, with twitter-like CRM tracking.  

You can see a video of the TriggerConnect in action or try the Beta of the app directly within the Intuit Workplace.

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What’s wrong with SaaS apps built in Flex?

Posted by Alex Chriss on December 8, 2008

Since we chose a Flex Framework to integrate with the Intuit Partner Platform, I’ve heard from a handful of developers and end-users that Flex-based apps can’t be successful.  Apps built in Flex are uncomfortable, too non-conformist, too blurry, etc etc, for some users.  Jane McCarty just posted saying:

My opinion…if one is going to use flash, it should be in small elements around a framework of web standards such as HTML & CSS. Fast, clean, simple and effective.  

I kind of like apps built in Flex.  I agree that they don’t look like a traditional “HTML” web apps, but that works for me in certain situations.  To me, they’re sexy and fast and work like a real app should – they feel like an app, not just a browser…And the more I play with AIR apps such as TweetDeck and our upcoming AIR communication app from Intuit, the more I really like both Flex and Air. What are the best examples of all-Flex apps that you use?

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Flex Camp Boston this week!

Posted by Alex Chriss on December 8, 2008

We’ll be sending some engineers and product managers from the Intuit Partner Platform and handing out some goodies at Flex Camp Boston on Friday (Dec 12th).  Looking forward to seeing Mr. O’Connor. If you plan on going ping me and let me know so we can hook up . (Twitter: @acce)

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Taking a Stab at a Visual Formula for Community Success

Posted by Alex Chriss on December 1, 2008


In thinking through the strategy for the Intuit Partner Platform, I’m wondering if there are specific components or theories that if put together in the correct way (and executed on well), can help create a really successful venture in the web 2.0 world – or more specifically a vibrant community. The graphic above is a quick sketch to try and put together some basic theories.  It’s not a mathematical equation but simply a visual way to think through how all this “Stuff” comes together – (The companies listed are just examples of compnents…) So, what are the components we’re thinking about? 

Channel/Brand/Reach:  Our favorite stories are those of startups that started from zero users and grew to world dominance.  But that’s very hard and very uncommon.  Communities that can leverage existing channels and/or user bases to get things kick-started, have a much better chance at success.  As Ben Kepes said to me “the problem with community created content is that the community needs to come first”! 

Contribution System:  Most basically, this refers to enabling a community of users/developers/?? to engage, absorb, and if interested, contribute back to the product/service.  By enabling contribution, you are tapping into a collective wisdom far greater than any one firm/person could produce.  If done correctly, you’re also entrusting ownership of the community to the users themselves.  That ownership is what drives true engagement.  There’s a simple 90-9-1 theory that talks about what the breakdown of your community actually does – This is a great start, but what’s more important, is that the entire community is “engaged.”  An engaged user may not actually contribute perceived value to the community (i.e. a Wikipedia entry) but if they tell a few friends, who tell a few friends, who tell a few friends, then… 

Net-Promoter & Viral growth: Two concepts that bring you to the same place – how do you get more people to your community. I’d argue that word of mouth (in its many incarnations, txt, twitter, facebook, etc.) is still the fastest and most powerful way to grow a business.  By creating an engaged network, and making it insanely easy to share the product or service, you can rapidly expand growth.  

Network Effect: Lot’s of users do not give you a network effect…but if each additional user adds value to the overall system – then you’re in business.  Tim O’Reilly also breaks down two different types: endogamous and exogamous, both of which I believe are critically important.  Basically, communities have to figure out a what to harness the power of their numbers to add value to the entire network.  

Data: The real value in all of these people doing and contributing “stuff”, is the data they create.  Think Wikipedia, or Google, or Facebook, or Windows – The whole point of creating a growing network effect is to tap in to massive data – but the secret is to make it accessible and valuable  on both a macro and micro level.  Networks work because they evolve quickly based on collective contribution but also because the evolution is valuable to ME at the individual level. Companies that can increase the iterative speed between macro-evolution and micro-relevance can become very interesting.  As Tim O’Reilly (who is obviously way ahead of me here) said a year ago, “As the applications become apparent, the data will be valuable in new ways, and the company with the most data wins.”

Obviously you need a compelling idea/service/product, but does this make sense as an overall way to think about growing a community?  What’s missing?  What doesn’t make sense?  

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New Video’s of QuickBooks Customer Explorer posted

Posted by Alex Chriss on November 28, 2008

Universal Mind has updated their Customer Explorer app (built in Adobe Flex) with new videos of how to get your Intuit QuickBooks data into the app and use their geo-spatial technology to gather insight on your customers.  The app is free at Intuit Workplace.  The possibilities here are endless.

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“Closing the Last Mile”: An apps marketplace for small business

Posted by Alex Chriss on November 18, 2008

{Originally posted on The AppGap}

If you’re a small business today, the breadth and quality of software and services available to help you run your business is limited. You just don’t get the same offerings that are available to the Fortune 1,000 crowd. Why is this? It’s just too darn expensive. We hear about infrastructure companies that have a “last mile” problem – as in – I can get the data to the town but getting it into each individual home is too costly.  Well, the same thing is true for the small business community.

Three things scare developers away from serving the small business market:

1) Price sensitivity: The value of a dollar is not created equal – small businesses need to see value and need to see it fast! Offerings will need to be priced accordingly.

2) Making it work with other apps: Software providers selling to the enterprise can send in swat teams to perform backend integration – who can afford to do that for a 5 person business?

3) Customer “reachability”: With roughly 26 million small businesses in the US alone, the market potential is enormous, but how do I reach them without a national TV campaign or shelf space at Staples?

We’ve seen this dilemma played out over the last few years. Millions of Small Businesses wanting more choices that fit their needs. And thousands of developers with expert domain knowledge on how to solve their needs, but no confidence they can do it and make a return on their investment.

Enter the Intuit Partner Platform – matchmaker extraordinaire, we believe. By leveraging the roles we’ve played in serving millions of small businesses with our own technology development over the last 25 years, we’re in a unique position to bring these two groups together. So how does it work?

For Developers: We offer a Platform as a Service that allows them to quickly and easily build a Software as a Service (SaaS) application for specific small business needs. We host the application/service, take care of the billing, user management, and much of the other stuff that makes SaaS expensive for the developer. In addition, we offer the developer one-click data integration with an SMB’s back-office – which is almost always their QuickBooks data. We handle the data synchronization, security and storage of the data, and free up the developer to apply their expertise to solving the customer’s problem. And lastly, we put their app in a marketplace and drive traffic through our marketing channels. We have 25 million employees in our QuickBooks customers and some good experience reaching the SMB market.

For Small Businesses: They get a single marketplace to discover and use a wide array of applications to help their business — and they can be confident that these new apps and their data is on a platform they trust.

So how does this all come together? Here’s an example: yesterday Universal Mind launched an application on the platform that allows small businesses to geographically visualize their customer data (check out this CNET story on the news). The app brings in a company’s customer data from QuickBooks and allows a small business to manipulate the data to glean valuable business intelligence. With map overlays of census data such as median house-hold income, SMB’s can now be far more intelligent in their business decisions. (Where are my best customers coming from? Where should I consider expanding? etc…)

customer explorer

Technology like this was previously unavailable to the small business community. But through the power of Software-as-a-Service, data integration, and customer accessibility, both the small business and the developer win, in our humble opinion.

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Adobe Max kicking off!!!

Posted by Alex Chriss on November 15, 2008

Come find us if you’re at MAX – Here’s where we’ll be and when.  I hope to see lots of you at the party Sunday night and the Birds of a Feather session on Monday.  it should be a blast!

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Free Task Management App for you and your Small Business

Posted by Alex Chriss on November 14, 2008

Task Manager

Originally uploaded by acce

We’re launching a FREE task management application for individual and Small Business use on the Intuit Partner Platform. It’s has all the functionality you would expect from a task app plus the ability to share tasks across your business.

See what your co-workers are doing, assign tasks to groups, keep the whole team on the same page. Go ahead and try it – it’s free – and we’d love your feedback.

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James Ward builds a Flex app on IPP

Posted by Alex Chriss on November 13, 2008

Very cool! Check it out

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