Big data and (small) accounting software
Last week I wrote about big data in general. Now I will try to give an example of how accounting software used in small business can be a source of big data, which can ultimately help those same businesses.
Quickbooks is a common accounting software product used in many smaller and medium-sized businesses. Traditionally, Quickbooks was installed on a computer in the organisation, but nowadays it is also available as an online product. In other words, there is a cloud version. According to an article in Forbes in April 2012, as much as 35 million of Intuit (the owners of Quickbooks) customers use online software for accounting and tax returns. With anonymous data on 35 million small businesses, Intuit can obtain quite a lot of information for their own purposes in terms of capturing user needs and developing their products. But they are also using this information to assist their customers. One great example cited in the Forbes article is a Trends feature. With this feature, a business owner can compare their business to average performance trends in the same sector, and even with similarly sized businesses. A comparison of sales, operating margins and payroll cost is possible. This kind of information would be really useful for any small business and typically such a business would have neither the time or resources to obtain such data.