When Software Becomes a Platform: Learning From History

As I’ve said before, huge fan and supporter of Intuit’s launch of the app store. It will increase the functionality of QuickBooks and shift them from software to a platform. I was on the phone the other day and listened to a gentleman at length discuss his skepticism of the app store. He stated too much was going on with too many products. The app store in this case being yet another mistake. He cited the app store as proof that QuickBooks leadership is and was both scattered and ill-prepared to lead their business.


     While I sat in silence and listened, I found that based on history, I couldn’t disagree more. It was not the time or place to share that. Today, I would like to share my reasoning with you guys and would love to have a discussion.


    The Current Setting: Intuit professionals were rumored to be working on as many as 800 new features a year and still falling behind for their QuickBooks software both Online and Desktop. This rate of feature development by one development team and project team is not doable. It’s not sustainable. How do you keep up with the demand of functionality for an excellent software solution?


    The History: Once upon a time, a two smallish companies that go by the names of Salesforce and Adobe found themselves in a similar predicament as QuickBooks Online/Desktop. But the features were crucial. These companies could not succeed as merely software companies anymore. It was a disservice to their customers and an unrealistic expectation for their team, thus, their business models made a dramatic shift: Salesforce and Adobe were no longer software companies.


   They became platforms.


   As we now know, their app stores were indisputably successful in continuing to build the companies’ value to their consumers. As platforms, not only did they create jobs, create wealth, and create a trailblazing model for SaaS companies, but also, they were finally able to provide the functionality their consumers needed at a record rate.


   As Intuit QuickBooks Online and Desktop users become further and further disgruntled and distraught, looking for features Intuit developers could never hope to stay ahead of, It is safe to assume Intuit took a look to the history of other greats and like all great leaders, learned from that history. The QuickBooks Online app store was established and the app offering growing rapidly. Some customers, fractional CFOs/CPAs, and other financial professionals might be trying to hedge their bets on the success of the app store and their apps: look no further than Salesforce and Adobe for your answer.
   Welcome Intuit QuickBooks as a platform.