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Shareable Databases: Intuit QuickBase Bringing Desktop Database Users into Enterprise 2.0

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This post is the first in a series we’ll be running over the coming weeks on “shareable databases.”

I have written about QuickBase on this blog before (most recently see – QuickBase’s New Developer Program: Going the Next Step to Support Its Developers and Their Mutual Clients) and as you know they are the sponsor of The AppGap. QuickBase is an Enterprise 2.0 shareable database that lets you select ready-made online workgroup applications or templates designed to solve common business problems, customize them to suit individual processes, and share within a team or an enterprise. I recently had a chance to talk with Peter Fearey and Liz McCann, who wanted to update me on QuickBase since we last spoke, about some of their latest initiatives, as well as their progress over 2008. Peter began with some of Intuit’s moves across the product line.

Brad Smith CEO at Intuit, has set a focus on “connected services.” There is both an increase in cloud offerings to enhance connectivity and an increased connectivity between desktop applications and web services. In addition, Intuit is promoting ways for customers to be connected with each other as well as the many experts within the broader Intuit community. This provides greater access to professional services for Intuit users by Intuit users.

Within QuickBase they are building on this broader theme by reaching out to users of siloed desktop databases and spreadsheets to bring them into the increased connectivity that the QuickBase SaaS platform provides. Last year they did a user survey that indicated their happiest and most supportive users were ones who migrated from desktop databases and spreadsheets to QuickBase. Liz mentioned one non-profit that kept track of their events on a desktop database hosted on a single laptop. This laptop was hand carried to events. When there were two or more events on the same night the extra sessions were covered through pen and paper. Then the notes were added to the laptop later. The multi-channel access that a hosted solution, such as QuickBase, offers eliminated this bottleneck.

Here is a more extensive example reported earlier on this blog, Out of this Galaxy – Delivering Premium Customer Service Has Never Been So Easy. For the first two years, they used Excel to manage their customer information. It didn’t scale and Luke nearly lost his mind trying to keep track of it all. Since January 2008 they have been using QuickBase for their customer service management needs – tracking customer status, their inventory status and location, what product they carry, as well as other associated activities like in-store demo schedules and staffing. Recently Galaxy has moved their Purchase Order management to the QuickBase platform. They also have a solution that can scale to their rapid growth projections.

Encouraged by the survey results, QuickBase has gone after more desktop database users to bring them into Enterprise 2.0. They focused their product to meet both the needs of individual users, project teams, IT, and senior management. Most enterprises have thousands of critical databases siloed on individual computers, out of sight from IT and senior management, and difficult for team members to share efficiently. With QuickBase now everyone who needs to have access can see what is happening in thousands of operations critical to the business. With this enterprise strategy, QuickBase has seen significant growth both in the number and size of accounts. Like Galaxy Granola, and the famous potato chip commercial, once you try it, you cannot resist more. One client has 50,000 users. Here is a view of a workgroup administration screen. You can see that multiple databases can be managed through one interface.

QuickBase admin

You can also easily manage users as shown below.

QuickBase User Managment

…and manage groups through a consistent interface.

qbase_corp_managegroup

The press has been receptive. PC Magazine named them as an Editors’ Choice. The review said that “QuickBase puts your company’s database applications online, so that anyone in your organization can get customized, secure Web access to anything from inventory to contact lists to product management.” This choice selection was literally the case as the editor says that the PC Magazine editors use QuickBase to keep track of previews, reviews, and other features.

I think QuickBase is an excellent example of how Enterprise 2.0 can open up the organization. The market has looked favorably on this group of applications. Like many others in this niche I have interviewed for AppGap, QuickBase has seen significant growth despite a down market. Companies are seeing this class of applications as a way to both cut costs and increase productivity.

As we have discussed, SaaS is an important component of this move to Enterprise 2.0 and IDC recently issued the report, Software as a Service Market Will Expand Rather than Contract Despite the Economic Crisis. They projected that by the end of 2009, 76% of U.S. organizations will use at least one SaaS-delivered application for business use. SaaS applications are also getting an increasing percentage of IT budgets. With experiences like those reported by QuickBase, I can see why this is happening.

The QuickBase Team Collaboration Blog is carrying more of these stories, as well as ways to get increased productivity from the application.

Stay tuned for more coverage of “shareable database” apps in the next month or two and feel free to write to us if your company’s offering should be included in this survey.

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