Opening up APIs and releasing data sets is one strategy big companies – and increasingly, governments – are using to push development and innovation around their core products and services.
Commbank announced it would be opening up APIs to developers last week, while it’s something companies like Xero has used to create an almost cult-like following around its product. More on that here.
But other companies are catching on. This week cloud accounting giant Intuit, which runs QuickBooks Online has overhauled its developer platform to make it easier for developers to integrate with its software.
“We’re focused on delivering an amazing developer experience because we know that the QuickBooks Online platform is only as powerful as the third party apps that connect to it,” Dan Wernikoff, senior vice president and general manager of Intuit’s small business group said.
Intuit Australia MD Nicolette Maury said its developer platform will make it easier to build and test new apps for which integrate into the company’s accounting software.
“It opens the door much more quickly to get started and test,” Maury said.
It also gives developers access to Intuit’s 700,000 cloud accounting customers, of which 7,000 are Australian small businesses. But on the flip side it also enables more solutions to be built for Intuit’s customers.
“We’re really excited about what that means for the developer market here in Australia in terms of giving them access access to a much bigger market,” Maury said.
Terry Hicks, vice president and general manager of QuickBooks Online told Business Insider opening up APIs is a way to meet customer demands.
“Everything that we do is driven by solving our customers’ problems,” he said, adding it’s never been Intuit’s mindset that they have to develop everything in-house.
Hicks said developers want to know the insights companies like Intuit have to figure out where to invest.
At a recent developer day Xero CEO Rod Drury told partners to start focussing on industry-specific problems. Intuit however said it doesn’t want to stipulate where developers should innovate.
“You can narrow the playing field too much,” Hicks said, adding, “We think that developers are going to teach us things and we don’t want to shut that off.”
However Hicks said solutions for schedule-, project- and membership-based or retail-based businesses are in demand, which pretty much covers off most small businesses.
He did say that e-commerce solutions and helping companies manage customer relationships as well as assist with the multi-channel approach companies are having to to deal with these days are bright spots.
“We’re seeing a lot of activity in the e-commerce space, we’re seeing a lot of activity around schedule-based businesses,” he said, adding small businesses are starting to take a “multi-channelled” approach to selling their products or services.
The accounting software sector is in the middle of being flipped on its head as traditional desktop software options become redundant in the face of speedier cloud solutions.
“What I find interesting about the industry is, it is in rapid disruption right now and why we are so optimistic about the space is what we know about the two and a bit million small businesses in Australia is that the majority of them are not using a cloud software product right now,” Maury said.
“There’s a huge amount of space to grow in the market and it’s only early days.”
The cloud accounting offerings operating in Australia appear to all agree there’s still room to grow in the market but Xero has made no secret it’s got its eyes on the US market where Intuit already feels quite at home.
“We’ve made no secret in wanting to be the worldwide leader in every single market we serve,” Hicks said.