Intuit’s QuickBooks Connect conference kicked off in Toronto this week and with it came a slew of new updates set to make the lives of accounting professionals easier. During the three-day event, Intuit executives and evangelists hit the stage and unveiled new features, while business owners and other engaging personalities broke down what it means to build a brand and be successful in the digital age.
At this year’s conference, the first day was geared towards accounting professionals, featuring keynotes and workshops touching on everything from demystifying e-commerce to better enhancing brand presence. Intuit QuickBooks has always focused on growing the practices of its users through streamlined tool development and intelligent decision making. But as the scope of technology grows and accounting professionals strive to hone their skills, Intuit realized that growing the size of an accountant’s practice was great, but not enough.
“We’ve made a big shift this year,” explains Ariege Misherghi, the global leader of the accountant segment for Intuit. “Growth is a persistent theme here, but the other side of it is moving from managing your practice to really scaling your impact.”
This year’s theme is all about owning the future. By building out robust technical advances powered by AI, accounting professionals can free up time to either work with more small businesses or serve in advisory roles to help them focus on their future and growth.
In the past, Intuit has improved its platform for accounting professionals through efficiency-focused updates that enabled users to bring best practices to their clients and reduce redundancies. While new features this year do play with the notion of those ease-of-use upgrades, the real initiative is to understand the impact an accountant can have for their clients and feed off that energy.
“I see professionals getting more from advisory roles, to be honest,” says Misherghi. “It’s about spending time with the client to understand where they need to be and really forming trusted relationships between the accountant and small business owner.”
Misherghi also believes that by scaling impact, there will be a direct correlation to efficiency as well. It seems that not all efficiency has to be driven by machine learning and algorithms because if more accounting professionals are able to take on advisory roles, they can share knowledge regarding specialized businesses and better ways to handle different types of clients.
“It’s about supporting specific niches too,” says Misherghi. “Finding efficiency by deepening your knowledge of a specific industry from a small business perspective is important. People are optimizing the work they’re doing so they can take on more clients and types of work.”
This is the impact Misherghi and the entire Intuit team is optimistic about. Technology-driven efficiency features are important, but by enabling professionals to branch out of their client list and interact with other professionals and different industries, that’s where the true learning and business growth comes from.
New AI-driven innovations
Scaling impact is key, but that doesn’t mean Intuit neglected to build out their technology stack and improve the core tenets of their flagship program. Empowering businesses is vital to growing the economy, and part of that means streamlining work for the accounting and bookkeeping experts in charge of finances. These professionals are always looking for ways to remain ahead of the competition, and new product updates announced on-stage at QuickBooks Connect this year made that a reality.
“QuickBooks is hands down the most effective and collaborative place to get books done for your client,” says Misherghi. “We have invested a lot in ‘data-in’ aspects of the platform, but now we’re turning to ‘data-out’ and helping accountants get the most of what they have out to the world.”
The new AI-driven product feature, called Business Performance Overview, lets accountants view a client’s key data such as actionable items and useful indicators at a glance in an organized dashboard, which can then be exported and used to start conversations and drive decisions with the client themselves. The goal is to build open communication channels with clients that offer the best chance at making strategic and effective decisions.
“Clarity is a baseline expectation and for us, you have to understand how you’re performing, but I don’t think you’re done there,” says Misherghi. “ We have to be able to ask ‘How and where do you need to effect change?’”
There is also a new Optimization Center update that is “innovative and unlike anything I have seen before in the industry,” according to Misherghi. The new feature will provide accountants and bookkeepers with an efficiency score based on how effectively they have set up a client. Intuit finds the score by scanning all QuickBooks transactions and identifying which are efficient, then breaks those down into three areas: bank accounts, expense tracking, and income tracking.
“Reducing errors and redundancy is table stakes—the fun stuff happens on top of that,” says Misherghi. “It all starts with complete accurate books, but what you’re able to build on top of that, that’s what is introducing value to the relationship. Not just understanding how a business is performing but also what they need to do to improve it. That’s strategically where we’re heading.”
Making impactful decisions
Above all, Intuit’s goals for its superuser base of accountants and bookkeepers is to just make the lives of their clients easier. At first glance, that kind of efficiency does come through AI-powered updates and small tweaks to common pain points, but the real improvements stem from something deeper: reaching more people and understanding where they live.
“Accounting professionals are living the change and disruption technology is bringing,” explains Misherghi. “The community of accounting professionals is used to the job being an ever-evolving role. What I see for the future is that, yes, work will be automated, but considering the market, there’s so much opportunity for these professionals to reach new people and clients.”
Intuit’s new goal for evolving the platform is to use efficiency as a guideline, not the finish line. That means building a better more robust platform with impact at its heart.
“Intention and purpose is what drives the most change,” she continues. “Hearing things are changing is insignificant. But when you bring professionals together, the connections, ideas, and thoughts introduced is what sparks dynamic conversations.”
Digital is an official media partner of Intuit Quickbooks Connect 2019.