Intuit Readies QuickBooks Online Apps Explosion

By Pedro Hernandez | Posted December 02, 2013

Intuit has rolled out the welcome mat for developers with changes to the QuickBooks Online (API) and a revamped Apps.com store that could give the platform's app ecosystem a big boost. The result is designed to give small businesses more ways to efficiently run their businesses with QuickBooks Online. One financial giant has already stepped across the threshold.

Balancing books, while vital function, only scratches the surface of how technology can help small business owners improve their chances of success. Sensing an opportunity beyond the weekend accountant market, Intuit has been charting a different course in recent years.

As a result, QuickBooks Online has been evolving into a "business operating system," although the cloud-based software suite still maintains a solid bookkeeping and accounting foundation. Apps have extended the software to provide payment systems integration, mobile productivity and more. And as with any software ecosystem, it lives and dies by the number and quality of its third-party apps.

In a bid to improve both, the company announced a significant change in how developers engage with the QuickBooks Online platform, along with improvements to its Apps.com marketplace.

Intuit Simplifies Path to More, Varied QuickBooks Apps

As a primary goal, Intuit decided to "remove any sort of barriers for developers to come onboard," said Ronny Tey, group marketing manager for Apps.com at Inuit. So the company is opening up its platform, first by removing a lingering financial disincentive that may have kept developers at bay. Intuit "removed connection fees to integrating with QuickBooks Online," revealed Tey.

Plus the new QuickBooks Online API, like the platform itself, has gone global. Eliminating regional barriers allows coders to build apps that integrate across U.S. and global markets, vastly expanding their reach, according to the company. Worldwide, QuickBooks Online boasts nearly 500,000 subscribers and 1.3 million users.

Developers can sign up at developer.intuit.com, but the benefits extend to both app makers and customers, too. Intuit is on the hunt, "looking at the types of partners that our customers need," said Tey. The company's outreach, he predicts, will help grow Inuit's catalog "of apps that will allow small business owners to do more with QuickBooks."

Intuit has already attracted a major partner. American Express now offers ReceiptMatch, which lets you snap a pick of your receipts, match expense categories and import those transactions into QuickBooks Online. It's a manifestation of Inuit's vision of getting "to the point where there isn't any data entry," said Tey.

Above all, the company wants to help small businesses drive revenue by putting their data to work instead of letting it sit locked away in accounting systems, collecting virtual dust. "There's data inside QuickBooks that's meaningful to other employees, not just to the bookkeeper," said Tey.

"Making the QuickBooks Online API free and easier to integrate gives developers the opportunity to build applications for our small business customers across the globe," stated Dan Wernikoff, senior vice president and general manager of Intuit Small Business Financial Solutions, in company remarks.

Intuit's Apps.com store has been upgraded to deliver "a curated experience" and to spotlight user-generated content, said Tey. The aim is to feature relevant, high-quality apps that blend seamlessly into customers' QuickBooks Online environment. "By enhancing Apps.com, we’ve made it easier for small businesses to discover the best apps that help them customize QuickBooks and manage their businesses," stated Wernikoff.

The new QuickBooks Online API is available now. The revamped App.com site is also now open for business.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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