"We believe data is the Moneyball for small business," Smith says, referring to the book by Michael Lewis, recently released as a movie starring Brad Pitt. "It levels the playing field. It'll bring back the days of the local merchant who knew everything about you and was able to greet you by name with special recommendations based on your purchase habits. It's going to help small businesses operate more efficiently and enable local entrepreneurs to compete effectively with a company of any size anywhere around the globe."
Smith says Intuit is in a good position to help make this happen. After all, he says, it provides business and financial management services to small and mid-sized businesses, financial institutions like banks and credit unions, consumers and accounting professionals. About 25% of the U.S. economy moves through its products, Smith says, and Intuit users have opted to share that data with the company.
It has transactional data, behavioral data (drawn from products like TurboTax Online and Mint), user-generated data and even social data drawn from social networks and Twitter. By aggregating and anonymizing the data, Intuit is creating a massive data store that can be accessed and used by customers.
This data could be used in lots of different ways, from comparing what businesses similar to yours are paying in wages to a new hire, to finding the most cost-effective vendor for your raw materials.
"We're able to take an individual's small business and with a dashboard compare them to other small businesses that are like them," Smith says. "If you're a two-employee florist shop in Boston, we can compare you with other two-employee florist shops in Boston and around the country."
As Smith notes, Intuit has already begun the process of transforming its products to help small businesses and consumers harness the new era of big data. Examples include the following: