I recently made the trip to Mountain View, California to spend the day with the folks at Intuit who are responsible for developing the products we use daily. Mountain View is in the heart of Silicon Valley, which for a tech-loving guy like myself made for an awesome trip.
For example, next door to Intuit’s campus is Google, and down the street is Apple’s headquarters. If you drive north just a few miles, there’s Salesforce.com’s corporate offices, and just a bit further down the road is the Facebook campus. I was in my version of technology heaven.
My visit to Intuit was incredibly insightful—having had the opportunity to sit down with CEO Brad Smith and ask him a series of questions about the profession, customer expectations, and a slew of other inquiries that would help our readers understand Intuit’s direction and future vision. And bonus—I also had the pleasure of meeting Scott Cook, Intuit’s co-founder and Chairman of Intuit’s Executive Committee.
I started the conversation with Brad by focusing on customer expectations and the pace of change occurring in the accounting profession. I’ve been a practicing CPA for more than 25 years, and I’ve personally never experienced a rate of change as great as it is today.
Paperless, portals, mobile apps, social media, Cloud technologies, integration, open platforms, and scan and organize (OCR) solutions—it’s enough to make your head spin. Brad agreed, stating, “Technology platforms used to change every 6 years, and now it’s every 6 months.”
I also spoke candidly with Brad about Intuit’s vision on the Cloud and the mobile space, allocation of development resources, and the importance of a client-centric culture. His responses provided a great deal of insight on the direction of company and what we can all expect.
Darren: Do you feel customer expectations are changing?
Brad: Absolutely they are…all the time. Today, it’s the data that must be liberated in order to allow the customer to work in whatever platform they choose and to integrate with other solutions of the client’s liking.
Darren: Intuit is approaching another big birthday; can you tell me about that?
Brad: We are proudly coming up our 30th birthday. We are an elder in Silicon Valley and have witnessed the evolution of DOS to Windows, Windows to Web, Web to Cloud, and now Cloud to Mobile. With the rapid pace of technology, and the new solutions we’re working on every day to delight customers though, in many ways, the energy our teams have for innovation, it feels like we are just getting started.
Darren: Speaking of mobile, tell me about what Intuit is doing in the Cloud and mobile space?
Brad: We’ve experienced a major shift in the company since 2008—moving to being a “connected services” company. In the past few years, Intuit’s revenue has evolved to the point that two-thirds of our revenue is coming from the Cloud or subscription-based services. We now have over 50 apps that work on mobile devices with 7 million active customers using our mobile products.
Darren: You mentioned to me earlier that Intuit is driven by a couple of core value beliefs, would you explain?
Brad: Yes, and I feel strongly about these. First, in many ways, the highest paid person’s opinion counts the least. It’s the customers’ opinion that matters most—what we refer to as customer-driven innovation. Second, we design for delight and do so with small, nimble teams that can react quickly to customers and get prototypes to market fast. Our innovation teams are comprised of no more people than two pizzas can feed.
Darren: It’s obvious to me from talking with many of your team members that Intuit is very customer focused. With the rate of change that is taking place and with the often “seismic shifts” that are taking place in everything from technology to social media, how do you stay out in front?
Brad: Intuit is committed to being a leader. We work with the Institute for the Future (www.iftf.org)—a Palo Alto-based non-profit research center specializing in long-term forecasting and quantitative futures research methods. The IFTF has reported four major trends: