Microsoft and Google, through their respective Office Live and Google Docs and Google applications have received most of the press about small businesses going online.
Of course there are dozens of other companies, with decent sized market shares, such as 37 Signals Basecamp, Zoho. Cisco’s WebEX and many others. However, one company, that should have a more integrated and robust offerings is Intuit. Right now its online offerings for businesses include QuickBase, QuickBooks Online (130,000+ users) and Intuit Online Payroll. These services are good, but Intuit can and will be doing more, online, in the coming weeks.
“This year, Intuit will offer products that solve even more important customer problems that go beyond accounting,” said Rick Jensen, senior vice president and general manager of Intuit’s Small Business Group. “We’re finding new ways to solve problems, increasingly connecting customers to solutions. Those solutions may come from one of our products, or perhaps from a software developer who adds greater value to one of our products. And in some cases, we give customers a forum to help each others by sharing ideas.”
Why are the opportunities of online services important for you to understand and follow this?
Right now the software ecosystem is predominantly comprised of Microsoft Office – Word, Excel, Outlook. Many of you are already using one or more online tools for specific applications or to run most of your business. However, MOST businesses are not leveraging online services. Sure Facebook and MySpace have millions of users. But think about it. How many are active? How many are business?
Intuit has 130,000 customers using QuickBooks Online. Constant Contact has over 150,000 customers. These are large numbers compared to their competition but small numbers compared to the 5 – 23 million small businesses in the US (and more outside).
As more companies launch or fine-tune their online strategies, you will be forced to consider doing more online. When your competition is able to react faster, increases their profits and delivers better customer service due to their use of online applications, what are you going to do?
Now is the time to dip your toe into the water and taste some of the online tools available for your business. Many are free, all are low cost. Some are offered by house hold name companies some are offered by companies you’ve never heard of – like Wix.com.
If you are not considering the next technology phase of your business growth, you should be. Your competition and customers are going to force you to make a decision, either way. A decision of intentional and thought out action, or a decision through inaction.