Intuit and Salesforce: dating or just good friends?

Summary:What is this Intuit and Salesforce thing about?

Last week's announcement by Intuit of its new found love for Salesforce perplexes me. On my personal weblog I said this is about:

  • Co-market selected Salesforce.com applications in Intuit’s marketplace
  • Develop an integration between Intuit and Salesforce

I then went on to put some perspective into the announcement

  1. My contacts at Salesforce tell me this is an Intuit announcement. As at the time of writing I haven’t seen anything from Salesforce and they could tell me no more than was in the release.
  2. I don’t see how “This collaboration will merge CRM and financial management.” Salesforce will still run as a separate application. Some data may be merged between the two apps but which will take precedence or will there be two way communication?
  3. It does look as though some QuickBooks data will end up in Salesforce, presumably debtor information but again, it’s not clear.
  4. No-one seems quite sure what Salesforce apps will be available in the Intuit App Center. Whatever turns up though will need to compete with ‘free’ in the shape of Driven and Active.
  5. Nothing I’ve seen in the announcement tells me whether this will be available globally or just in the US markets. Intuit doesn’t travel especially well but Salesforce has a good number of users outside the US.
  6. Right now this looks more like marketing than product solution but I am prepared to be surprised.

ReadWriteWeb sees it as a coup for Salesforce. Is it? I see plenty of signs that very small businesses find value in CRM but is this the style of integration they want? I can definitely see a strong case for sales people using their own app while oblivious to what happens in the back end financials. But I equally see strong arguments for the same interface between applications. Perhaps such considerations matter less or not at all in the very small market though again I remain far from convinced.

I would have been far more impressed if Intuit had announced it was developing on the Force.com platform as FinancialForce has done. To me, that would have created a much stronger value proposition going forward. But then that would be Intuit eating its own branded lunch in the eyes of some people.

A research paper I saw from Citi said: "We believe the alliance gives more leverage to Salesforce which should benefit from Intuit's broader reach into the SMB space. Intuit, which scuttled its own CRM development, will fill in a gap in its own cloud offerings." If that's the case then I wonder why Salesforce is not giving prominence to this announcement. Perhaps this is another case of Salesforce spreading itself among as many ecosystem players as it can find as it tries to move from $2 billion to $3 billion in revenue but not placing too much reliance on the deal? At least not for the time being.

Topics: Enterprise Software

About

Dennis Howlett has been providing comment and analysis on enterprise software since 1991 in a variety of European trade and professional journals including CFO Magazine, The Economist and Information Week. Today, apart from being a full time blogger on innovation for professional services organisations, he is a founding member of Enterpri... Full Bio

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