At Intuit, we keep most of our innovation in-house. Innovation is a mindset, not a department and we actively encourage and train everyone on this. We have some unique processes that we’ve built over the past 30 years; our secret sauce! We operate a ‘Design for Delight’ (D for D) process and we have built it so that we can iterate quickly. We bring prototypes to customers in rapid time, going from broad to narrow. This allows us to take the crazy and outlandish ideas to customers and get quickfire insight and feedback, and our D for D process allows us to iterate and co-create ideas in hours.
Added to this, we’re in a unique position in that we really understand our customers. Take Quickbooks for example – we know our customers businesses intimately, we’re the sort of central nervous system supporting their accounting and finances. We know what banks they’ve integrated with; we know when they’re likely to hit cashflow problems. We have this richness of data that allows us to innovate around the real problems, the problems that allow us to better serve our customers and grow our position in the market.
So, in my role, innovation is about solving a customer problem and bringing about change and new ways of delivering a better product, service or experience.
You’ve had a diverse career – from working in large corporates, to disruptive, agile scale ups and consulting environments. A buyer and a supplier of innovation services. What do you see as the key differences?
When you’re in-house you are much more aware of the constraints you have to bring a new idea to market. These things are very real for you, you’re in charge of it. You have a great deal of internal insight, and data to pull from and, if the business has innovation built into their DNA, you are able to bring about change.
Consultants typically have less exposure and are often separated from idea generation to execution. Understanding how a business works and whether a new idea is possible – through understanding the business structure, downstream capabilities and constraints – is harder to see from the outside. But what consultants bring to the table is wider thinking, outside in perspective plus examples of what others have tried and tested. This can be invaluable.
Whilst we typically keep most of our innovation at Intuit in-house, I have had some experiences of working with outside consultants. At Intuit, when we were entering the open banking space, we needed a wider view of the landscape so we partnered with 11:FS for that.