Intuit updates QuickBooks with more AI, aims to help SMBs avoid cash flow issues

QuickBooks Cash Flow Planner leverage AI to help ensure that small businesses can manage cash and avoid crunches with predictive modeling.

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Intuit is infusing its QuickBooks platform with artificial intelligence aimed at guiding small businesses through projecting cash flow, tracking expenses and mileage, and performance ratios.

Unveiled at Intuit's QuickBooks Connect conference, the company outlined an approach that rhymes with how it has automated tax preparation. QuickBooks is aiming to enable small business owners and self-employed workers to use AI to automate back-office work, ease commerce, and introduce performance metrics.

For instance, QuickBooks has added payment capabilities to invoices and used AI to manage cash flow. Of the additions and updates to QuickBooks, the cash flow projection feature may have the most immediate impact.

Alex Chriss, executive vice president and general manager of Intuit's small business unit, said QuickBooks is getting 50 new AI tools.

"The new Cash Flow Planner is a first in the industry. Our AI sees transactions across the platform and starts to parse out expenses," explained Chriss. "We look at cash flow, expenses and things like invoices pending. The AI also figures out the likelihood a customer will pay on time."

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QuickBooks Cash Flow Planner and Payroll.

Cash Flow Planner predicts cash flow over the next 90 days and alerts owners when there's a "negative situation" and offer pointers on easing a cash crunch. Cash Flow Planner also offers scenario planning through a question and answer format.

"We're looking for things like consistent expenses vs. inconsistent revenue and whether 30-day invoices are really paid in 45," said Chriss. 

There's also integration with QuickBooks Capital to bridge funding gaps. QuickBooks Capital uses machine learning to assess risk and provide loans to small businesses.

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Other new additions to QuickBooks include:

  • QuickBooks Payments, which will allow instant deposit payments without a wait. AI will enable payment-enabled invoices in less than a minute. Invoices can also be customized.
  • Receipt Capture, a mobile app feature to allow small businesses to upload, email or snap receipts for expenses. Receipt Capture takes data from a receipt and creates a new transaction or matches the receipt to an entry in QuickBooks.
  • Mileage Tracking, a feature that will be expanded to QuickBooks Online users beyond QuickBooks Self-Employed. Chriss said Mileage Tracking is available in the QuickBooks mobile app, which can leverage technology in a smartphone and GPS to know when driving and track a trip. The QuickBooks user is then asked whether the trip was personal or business and will keep track in the future.
  • QuickBooks Online Advanced updates that will further automate transactions and workflows with advanced reporting. QuickBooks Online Advanced is important to Intuit since it moves the company more upmarket to midmarket ERP systems. Chriss said QuickBooks Online Advanced is for customers "that loved QuickBooks but outgrew it." "We're scaling it to automate more workflows," said Chriss.
  • QuickBooks Online Accountant Business Performance Dashboard, which provides metrics, trends, and ratios with a click. The tool is designed for accountants.
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Intuit QuickBooks Online Advanced

And in a nod to indicate that not all business functions can be powered by AI, Intuit outlined plans for QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping. That service is a monthly subscription that enables small businesses to connect to a bookkeeper to ensure records are accurate and up-to-date and have their books in order.

Intuit said 40% of the small businesses using QuickBooks are not connected to an accountant. QuickBooks screens bookkeepers and accounting professionals. 

Overall, QuickBooks via AI and live connections is aiming to give small businesses one accurate version of the truth.