Inside Intuit - How the Makers of Quicken Beat Microsoft and Revolutionized an Entire Industry, written by Intuit veteran Suzanne Taylor and seasoned business manager Kathy Schroeder, is certainly a boon to new entrepreneurs and business school students. The classic story of a Silicon Valley technology company has a lot to offer to the future generations. Even though, Intuit is a technology company, the challenges it faced and the steps taken to get out of woods are a lesson to companies across industries. I am from a technical background, who is currently managing customer situations and customer relations for my company. I believe in customer loyalty more than customer satisfaction. This book demonstrated how successful a marriage between customer driven innovation and technology companies can be. In 1980s, high technology industry was dominated by giants like IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, etc. None of them emphasized on customer satisfaction as much as Intuit did. I have learnt several valuable lessons from this book, most importantly, innovation driven by customers, followed by market strategy for a known product, having self awareness for CEO and always put employees and customers in the front.
Clear Strategyand Market Positioning
When his wife complained about the drudgery of paying bills and writing checks, Scott Cook sprung up with the idea for new software. It wasn't as if Cook and Proulx, cofounder of Intuit, had come up with an idea no one else had, back in 1983. There were 46 different competitive products already on the market. The problem is that none of them worked particularly well. The real challenge is in reading the pulse of the customers and to provide software that gives more than what the existing players are providing. Instead of triggering off the search for a venture capitalist to fund his ideas, Scott Cook, immediately applied his P&G business principles, cold calling customers. Scott called customers in Palo Alto and Winnetka, IL and other upscale communities, who are likely to buy computers, to find out about their personal finance habits. This bootstrap research yielded a consistent set of problems, most of the customers disliked managing their finances. The key strategy that intuit is built upon are
1.Procter & Gamble consumer products techniques. Our authors have elucidated the fact that a former Crisco seller has turned into a tech entrepreneur. In P&G, the consumers are the most valuable asset to the company. Intuit's strategy was built upon the mission statement given below.
2. Our process for developing software that works the way consumers think. We call this intuitive software design. It improves learning time and speed-in-use by up to 10-fold versus existing software products.
P&G Mission Statement
"We will provide branded products and services of superior quality and value that improve the lives of the world's consumers. As a result, consumers will reward us with leadership sales, profit, and value creation, allowing our people, our shareholders, and the communities in which we live and work to prosper."
Market positioning or segmentation was achieved at a very early stage. In early 1980s, the market was flooded with video games and other personal computer (PC) softwares. The primary domain of computer users are younger demographic and the usage of PCs had no penetrated into the middle aged people (those who pay bills and balance checks). Scott Cook took calculated risks in venturing into the personal finance software market, given that the ‘home productivity/ home business’ segment is estimated at 26% of the total of $260 million in 1984.(Sources: Creative Strategies International, Future Computing.)
Scott Cook notes that the biggest insights often come in...