Recently, I attended a “gallery walk” of innovative technology and experimental products that Intuit engineers and product developers are working on. On hand for one-on-one discussions were the men and women who head up various research and development innovation teams that are focusing on a wide range of technologies, including everything from the use of artificial intelligence to wearables. In addition, the event offered a glimpse at how virtual and augmented reality, as well as voice and chatbot technologies, could be integrated into future Intuit products and platforms.

In some cases, the ideas of the engineers are already making their way into the platforms on which millions of individuals and small businesses manage their finances (e.g., Mint, TurboTax, QuickBooks, etc.). For example, “anonymized” machine learning and artificial intelligence approaches are being used to help make the software more intuitive — anticipating what the user will do next, or what information the user is seeking before they even ask.

Intuit demonstrated how hundreds of products from other companies are being integrated into QuickBooks. For example, QuickBooks now integrates with Gmail which lets users invoice clients via the e-mail service. Another team is working on integrating QuickBooks into real-time video conferencing like Google’s Hangouts chat.

While such uses seem logical, other projects are more blue-sky and may not lead to specific products or features. For example, there was a mirror with an embedded “picture-in-a-picture” display of information the mirror’s technology anticipates you’ll want to know. Talk to your mirror via a Siri-like experience and a virtual assistant shares with you secure information from accounting or financial products from Intuit. (Across the room, a team from Mint was demoing Siri interacting with the personal finance platform Mint.)

Another team is working on possibilities related to the use of blockchain technology for moving sensitive information securely. Another, displayed in the cover photo above, is a business planning app that is using game-like metaphors and 3D virtual reality.

The reason to innovate

“Intuit has grown and thrived for more than three decades by consistently reimagining and reinventing ourselves,” Brad Smith, Intuit chairman, and chief executive officer told the analysts and media viewing Intuit’s new and prototype products. “At Intuit, we want to fall in love with our customer’s problems, not fall in love with our products. By doing that, the company can always be looking for ways to solve problems, and not sell features.”


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