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How Participation-driven Innovation Redefines Software Development


A recent business trip took me to Australia, where I had the opportunity to sit down with a number of local small business owners and discuss the challenges they face. What struck me, as it often does when I travel, is that while there are many universal issues facing small businesses around the world, no two markets are the same.

At Intuit, we’ve spent 30 years tirelessly working to identify and solve the pain points of small businesses. Yet one of the most important things we’ve learned, especially when it comes to global markets, is that we alone will never have all the answers.

So how do you meet the challenge of creating offerings that serve the unique needs of small businesses around the world?

The answer is by harnessing the power of many.

This means giving small businesses the power to tailor the products to fit their markets, while connecting small business owners to each other so they can draw on the wisdom and the contributions of their peers. We call this “participation-driven innovation”.

This is the approach we have taken with our new global QuickBooks Online offering. The way it works is that core QuickBooks tools and features are universally available. These features address vital global small business needs such as getting your finances organized, understanding what money is coming in and what money needs to go out.

But within this foundation, users now have the power to quickly configure QuickBooks Online to make it right for their local needs by selecting a country’s currency, accounting standards and tax rates. Moving forward, we are testing ways for users to then upload these customizations into the cloud where they could be shared with other QuickBooks Online users in the region.

The result of this new approach is a global product that, because of user-generated content, becomes “local” for each market. QuickBooks Online Global launched in July of this year, and driven by the power of participant innovation, is already up and running in 140 countries.

The insight we are savoring is a potentially new approach to software development. Our experience so far with QuickBooks Online is further evidence to me that in today’s global marketplace, the role of companies is to build platforms that empower participant-driven innovation.

This post also appeared on LinkedIn. Follow Brad Smith on LinkedIn.


Brad Smith

Intuit President and CEO Brad Smith has his head in the cloud. He’s the driving force behind Intuit’s transformation to connected services. When not spending time with his wife and two daughters, Smith plays the saxophone and guitar and practices karate. Don’t expect him to quit his day job. Follow him on LinkedIn and on Twitter @IntuitBrad

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