Intuit innovation shines in gallery tour

Last week, Intuit hosted a unique event: a tour of several of the products it has in the development pipeline. Many of the products on display are still in development and testing phases, some may not make it to the market. Others are already in play, some in selected markets. The overall effect of the event was to underscore the fact that Intuit is by no means resting on the laurels of its flagship products, but is continuously working to move ahead and stay on top of innovation and new products for our changing society.

Rich Walker, director - accounting professionals division communications, media relations, and social media for Intuit, described a deliberate change in Intuit's concept that occurred three years ago. The concept is what Intuit describes as horizon planning. Horizon 1 refers to products that have been around for some time. Horizon 2 refers to products that are up and coming. And Horizon 3 refers to products that are new ideas. The company has chosen to put emphasis on all three of these horizon groups, and one result is more backing for innovation in the Horizon 3 area.

Intuit founder, Scott Cook, spoke enthusiastically about the new products. "There's a lot happening at Intuit that people don't know about," he said. He mentioned that it was great fun for him to be able to recognize Intuit's innovation award winners and celebrate with them. The awards are given internally and not announced to the public.

Products on display at the gallery tour included:

  • SnapTax - This product allows the user to snap a picture of a W-2 form on the iPhone and e-file a 1040-EZ automatically from the iPhone. California state tax filing is also available. So far, the program is in use in a pilot area in California. Plans for expansion will be announced in January, 2010.
  • Quicken Health Expense Tracker - Available now to as many as 27 million health plan members with 250,000 currently signed on, this product works with insurance providers to give the end user clear explanations of insurance claim and benefit information along with the ability to make direct payments to health care providers.
  • DealHood provides savings from participating neighborhood merchants via mobile devices. User presents deal screen to merchant to receive savings. Currently in effect in San Francisco and Atlanta and available on iPhone and iPad. The goal is to work with local merchants to help them get new customers.
  • Intuit Partner Platform & Intuit App Center - Online shopping destination that provides business applications that work with QuickBooks and with each other. Currently 60 apps are available at this online site. Hundreds are expected.
  • Intuit Health Bill Pay Premier - This program works with doctors offices to provide patients with e-mail notification as soon as insurance claims are settled, then provides an automatic direct billing service for quick payment. The program is designed to cut billing time, saves paperwork, and speeds up payments.
  • Trends for QuickBooks Online - Currently in beta testing, this program will allow QuickBooks users to compare themselves to peer group members in the same industry, made up of other QuickBooks online users, and see a consolidated view of profitability, sales, and cash flow.
  • Intuit Small Business Employment Index - This index paints an economic trends picture for small business employment. With 60,000 businesses in the sample, Intuit prepares a monthly report from its Online Payroll data, comparing small business activity against government numbers and all businesses. The report is published the first of each month and uses Intuit customer data to help them with their own challenges. Each month, economic insights are provided by Susan Woodward, formerly Chief Economist of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • GoPayment & mophie - Small business operators can collect payments instantly, anywhere with GoPayment, handheld smartphones. Optional mophie hardware enables card swiping. Payments are downloadable into QuickBooks.
  • Mint Real World Price Compare - Mint.com personal finance program users can find out how much the typical user spends at an establishment in their neighborhood. Wondering how much meals really cost at a new restaurant you're considering? This program aggregates actual user information to let you know how much other people are spending with selected merchants.
  • QuickReceipts - Do you hate carrying around paper receipts? This SaaS offering gives consumers electronic versions of store receipts and stores them for 24/7 access. Currently in production with Best Buy and Container Store, could be coming to a store near you. The program is free for shoppers. Ultimately, merchants will pay a fee to participate, but there is no charge for merchants now during the initial testing period.
  • Brainstorm - For use at a company internally, this collaboration platform allows employees across the company to share ideas and solve problems. The program has been in use at Intuit since May, 2008, and has been available commercially since February, 2010.
  • Jasmine (code name while in production) - The program was designed to help merchants connect with customers via text messaging in an effort to keep customers coming back. Designed for launch in India where move people have mobile phones than computers, the service allows merchants to send offers and reminders to customers on their mobile devices. The program has broad applicability and is expected to eventually be launched in the U.S., Asia, and Europe.
  • Mobile Technology Explorations - This innovative digital wallet allows a consumer to transfer a payment or a merchant or service provider by bumping phones. Credit card information can be uploaded instantly by touching the credit card to a smartphone. This program is currently in an exploration stage.
  • Intuit 401(k) - Launched in August, 2010, the Intuit 401(k) program is designed for small businesses that want to offer a retirement plan to employees. Morningstar Investment Services provides and monitors the funds and the program integrates with QuickBooks payroll, although it can stand alone as well. Plan consultants are available to answer questions. New plan sign-up can be accomplished in fewer than 30 days.
  • Mint Goals - A new feature in the Mint.com program, Goals allows users to set and budget for planning and savings goals. The most popular goal so far is a get-out-of-debt goal which displays the user's current debt from all locations, along with the interest rate being charged on each debt type, and then helps the user to set up a payment plan to tackle the debt. The feature shows the user exactly how long it will take to pay off the debt by making minimum payments, and then helps the user find a better payment cycle to speedily eliminate the debt.

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