New Intuit SaaS Program Broadens Channel's Parameters

New channel program launched by Intuit for its QuickBase product capitalizes on the growing popularity of SaaS and embraces vertical business specialists lacking software code-writing expertise.

February 27, 2008

Al Senia

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A new channel program launched by Intuit for its QuickBase product line capitalizes on the growing popularity of SaaS and broadens the channel's reach by embracing vertical business specialists with relatively little software code-writing experience or IT expertise.

Intuit defines its new breed of channel partners as business consultants specializing in such markets as disaster management, jet leasing, non-profit organizations or construction project management who are interested in using QuickBase to customize applications tailored to the industries they serve. The flexibility of the product allows these business consultants to function as service providers.

What is interesting is that Intuit officials believe that SaaS implementations using QuickBase allow for easier and faster implementation of highly specialized solutions by market experts who need not write their own software coding. This approach opens the door for the new resellers to displace traditional VARs who write code and are tied to a less flexible approach.

"We see this as a new opportunity for entrepreneurs that have some domain expertise and want to expand on that to build their own businesses," said Alex Chriss, group manager, business marketing and channel sales, Intut QuickBase.. "They can leverage their business expertise to develop applications tailored specifically to the industries they serve. They are leading with their industry knowledge, not their IT expertise."

One reseller involved in the program, Cullen Coates, a management consultant and owner of Crystal Bay Solutions in Larkspur, Calif., said the program has been successful in expanding his business. "This is a real paradigm shift in the way applications can be created. It's a fundamental shift in empowering non-technical users. People who are business process experts all of a sudden can create applications."

Coates said he used QuickBase to create a SaaS application for a national database for Episcopal social-service agencies. The nonprofit group he worked with had become bogged down with the cost and complexity of trying to have code for the software application written. By using QuickBase, Coates was able to import the group's existing spreadsheet database and, using the product's built-in wizard, easily turn it into a application tailored to the needs of the organization. The application is being marketed to other, similar groups nationwide. Intuit and Coates split the revenue generated by the software site licenses.

"Frankly, it enabled me to deliver a solution that people heretofore would think is impossible," Coates explained.

Chriss said he already has 25 such certified specialists "up and running" and would like to authorize 50 more by year's end.

This is part of a larger effort the company is making toward indirect sales. Chriss said QuickBase has been in the market for about eight years, and that future success is tied to an indirect channel sales model using business specialists. He aims to have between 15 and 20 percent of new revenue generated by this new class of revenue within one year. "This is a big commitment for us," he noted.

Chriss is quick to emphasize that the opportunity is also attractive to traditional VARs who want to move into a better business model." He says some of the resellers currently authorized are traditional VARs.

The new channel program in tiered to three levels based on volume. Intuit provides sales leads, partner development training and marketing support. QuickBase allows program members to customize one of 200 templates and resell them to business customers.

Chriss said QuickBase shifts value from the technical experts to business specialists and should appeal to "forward-thinking VARs' who are interested in exploring a new business model that embraces SaaS.



TAGS: Microsoft,software,management,SaaS,IT,marketing,CA,Intuit,VAR

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