Intuit QuickBooks 2014: Another Move Towards Unification of Features and Software as Service
Intuit QuickBooks is the recognized standard for small business accounting, and the introduction of the QuickBooks Online Edition was a testament to Intuit’s understanding that users are looking for SaaS solutions as well as traditional desktop products. While it may seem that the entire market is moving to online applications and everything-as-a-service, the Intuit desktop products remain the leading business computerized accounting tools. Intuit does seem to recognize that many things can be done better with a “software-as-service” model , and that the number of businesses seeking purely web-based solutions is growing, and this is evidenced by the fact that many features and presentation elements in the Online edition are making it into the desktop editions. Creating consistency throughout the product line makes sense for users, and leveraging the benefits of shared service makes sense for Intuit.
In a previous blog article entitled Changing How We See Software: QuickBooks 2013 interface frustrates power users, I had suggested that many of the interface changes introduced with the 2013 QuickBooks desktop editions were a step towards unification of interfaces (to the degree possible) between desktop and Online editions. Additionally, integrations with various connected services, Intuit payroll and payment solutions, and other online service elements clearly demonstrate that certain functionality and service offerings will be provided consistently through either solution set. Another new “unified” feature announced for QuickBooks desktop is the Income Tracker, a feature that originated with the QB Online edition.
The Income Tracker provides you with a fast way to see the status of your unbilled and unpaid transactions, and provides you with features to improve billing/collections as well as perform a number of batch procedures… This feature was first developed in QuickBooks Online, and this year Intuit has brought it into QuickBooks Desktop
The introduction of a purely subscription licensing model for the desktop products is yet another move towards enabling the pay-as-you-go subscription model for purchasing software. Businesses are able to purchase “plus” subscriptions, which provide not only perpetual most current version software but also deliver support for the life of the subscription. This is another change from the more traditional boxed software approach, where the product was a one-time purchase and came with short-term or limited support.
It seems that many of the changes introduced with 2014 indicate that online service and subscription pricing models will continue to introduce themselves into the QuickBooks desktop products, and users who change from one solution to another in the product family will find more familiarity and consistency in the attached Intuit services they also use.
Many independent software vendors and developers of business applications are recognizing the value of subscription service models and the benefits of leveraging web-based applications and shared services within their solutions. For software companies, turning a one-time sale into a recurring revenue stream is highly desirable. From a development perspective, one project could service the entire product line, rather than efforts being divided among multiple products. From an operational perspective, infrastructure and personnel are able to centrally service the functional requirement, providing the same benefits of shared service that users of SaaS solutions experience (it may simply be internal rather than external customers being served).
The point of the discussion is that, while QuickBooks desktop editions may not be going away any time soon, there is wisdom (and business necessity) which is likely to drive even more subscription model SaaS inclusions in those products that were once purely and firmly planted on the desktop. Even good old QuickBooks must change, and for the most part, users are seeing benefit in those changes.