This is a great time to be a small business owner. Technology keeps getting more powerful and easier to use. We have more options than ever to promote our businesses online, either inexpensively or free.
Today’s huge announcement by Google and Intuit is one more example.
The CEOs of Google and Intuit jointly announced a strategic alliance, in which the new version of Intuit’s QuickBooks will have several Google features built into it.
Small businesses using QuickBooks 2007 will have the ability to get access to and use four different Google products directly from within their QuickBooks workflow. The four products are:
- Google AdWords: Small businesses will be able to sign up for AdWords directly from the QuickBooks 2007 home page. New advertisers will get a $50 AdWords credit to advertise their businesses online.
- Google Maps: Data within QuickBooks will pre-populate a set of fields in Google Maps, to create an online listing for the business.
- Google Product Listings: Small businesses can automatically upload inventory information to Google Base. That way anyone shopping online will know that the business carries certain merchandise in their brick-and-mortar store.
- Google Desktop: The Google Desktop search capability has been integrated into QuickBooks. Users can easily search the data in QuickBooks.
About one-fourth (25%) of U.S. small businesses today use Intuit products.
Intuit has 3.7 million small businesses using its QuickBooks product. The deal will give Google access to these small businesses.
Another 2.5 to 3 million users use the Quicken product line. However, Quicken is not currently part of this new partnership.
What struck me was that the announcement came right from the top of both organizations. Steve Bennett, the CEO of Intuit, and Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, both personally made the announcement. That, to me, says it all about the significance of this new partnership and the commitment to the small business market.
What does this announcement mean to you and your small business? The obvious answers are: (1) you will be able to do more to market and sell, directly from within QuickBooks, (2) you will save time and not have to re-key certain information, and (3) you will get a “helping hand” in a sense, guiding you toward pre-selected solutions without the need to identify and research them on your own.
Besides the obvious, this kind of product integration has broad implications for how you select and implement software. As noted in the conference call today accompanying this announcement, a software architectural revolution is going on. You no longer need to have everything locked up onto one computer. Software today more and more is a hybrid combination. You will have some software downloaded to your company computers, and other software that you and your employees access as a service online. You may also have data that resides online. This kind of architecture has far-reaching implications for mobile workers, for network configurations, for software purchasing, and for IT security.
And perhaps the biggest implication of all: both sides today emphasized that this is just the beginning of a much deeper relationship, suggesting further product integration to come from Intuit and Google.
For more, read the press release about the Google and Intuit alliance.
Seems to me that today’s small businesses are changing the way the entire online community does business. And with more and more companies like Google, Intuit and Microsoft (whom recently announced integrating the new Microsoft Accounting 2007 with Paypal) acknowledging and catering to the small business owner, the technological future for small businesses looks bright.
The future for small businesses looks bright for those small businesses who have embraced technology. It opens doors not only nationally, but internationally as well. These integrations create more opportunities for small businesses, but they increase competition online. Small businesses will either have to join the trens and survive or be pushed out.
This deal will only be meaningful for small businesses if Google creates a customized version of AdWords for Quickbooks users. The AdWords platform has evolved over the years and has become cumbersome to manage. Google recognized this and created a simpler version called Starter Edition. This doesn’t work for small businesses though for two key reasons: it opts them into the content network and it only allows for the creation of a single ad. (The content network is contextual advertising which is not search engine advertising.)
Most small businesses will have multiple products/services to advertise and will need different ad text and keywords for AdWords. Google needs to create a “Quickbooks Edition” which must be for search engine ads only, allow the creation of multiple ads, and provide for simple management and reporting. I’m not sure Google is either able or willing to create a version tailored for small business. If they do, however, this Intuit deal will be a success both for Google and for small business owners.