Tech Spheres

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

Posts Tagged ‘Intuit’

Intuit Partner Platform + Windows Azure = Win for Small Businesses

Posted by Alex Chriss on January 20, 2010

Super-excited to be announcing the relationship between Intuit and Microsoft to bring great apps to Small Business.  This is a huge step for IPP and real validation of our strategy and the effort our team has put in the past two years.  Can’t wait for what happens next!


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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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Free Task Manager App for you and your Small Business (From Intuit)

Posted by Alex Chriss on December 19, 2008


Task Manager

We’re launching a FREE task management application for individual and Small Business use on the Intuit Partner Platform. It 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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Free QuickBooks Pro – Monday only at Staples

Posted by Alex Chriss on December 19, 2008


Monday 12/22/08 – Free QuickBooks Pro ($199 value) at Staples (while supplies last)

Here’s the link to getting it On-line


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Competition heats up for Adobe Air – Is it real?

Posted by Alex Chriss on December 9, 2008

Appcelerator announced today that they raised $4.1MM in funding and are launching their direct competitor to Adobe Air, Appcelerator Titanium.  I think this is tough market to try and beat Adobe in.  Unless Adobe pulls the plug on Air (highly unlikely), they have four major advantages:

1) First-mover advantage – Adobe already has some adoption, and when the “big-boys” are the first mover, it’s a heck of an uphill battle for a startup to climb into contention.

2) Distribution:  Titanium claims they can package the runtime environment with the app.  That’s very cool but so can Air.  And this game isn’t about packaging up installs on the first app – it’s about complete market penetration to create a seamless experience for the end-user.  Adobe is darn good at desktop distribution (see Acrobat) and has pre-existing channels.  As a developer, you really have to see a major advantage in Titanium to adopt.

3) Success-stories:  Air hasn’t blown the market away, but some apps are starting to pick up steam.  I use Tweetdeck every day now and we’re building a couple of Air apps for Intuit customers.  It feels like there’s about to be an onslaught of high-quality AIR apps to hit the market, and that’s tough for a startup to face.

3) Viability: Giving developers a choice is great – but smart developers are wary of building on technology that could be gone in a year.  $4.1mm lasts about a year, and I’m sure Adobe will tell you it takes a long time to build a strong and thriving developer community.  

After attending Adobe Max and seeing the passion the Adobe developer community has, Appcelerator has a tough road ahead.  They either need a couple of huge success stories or a big distribution partnership to become viable.  That said, excessive hubris destroys all, and Adobe needs to extend their lead.

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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?

Posted in IPP | Tagged: , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

New release of QuickBase includes iPhone support

Posted by Alex Chriss on December 8, 2008

Intuit QuickBase just pushed the newest version of its award winning SaaS app & database creation tool for business teams.  This latest version includes iPhone access for end-users – allowing teams to access their most critical business data from road.  Check out all the new features of this release and keep up to speed on QuickBase at their team collaboration blog.

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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?  

Posted in IPP, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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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