Saying goodbye to the boxes of gold

“No-one is making money from cloud software, in the early days everyone made money from software,” bemoaned one of the panellists at last week’s CPA Technology, Accounting and Finance Forum.

A good example of this is the US accounting software giant Intuit putting the 32 year old Quickbooks on to the market.

Intuit was built on the back of Quickbooks but today the product today makes less than 6% of the company’s revenues and under 2% of the profits. Making matters worse is the old code base is clunky, proprietary and expensive to maintain.

Apart from getting a captive – and almost certainly dwindling – client base, there doesn’t seem to be a lot to attract buyers for Quickbooks as a desktop based product in a market shifting to the cloud.

The shifting business model hurts more than Intuit; the accountants, resellers and other service providers who were making a decent income from selling or supporting the box products have seen their margins evaporate.

For users, both Intuit and the services providers moving away from the product risks leaving them and their data stranded, something every business should understand about the risks of proprietary formats.

The shift though by Intuit should be a warning to small businesses that the days of box and inhouse software are numbered and running packages on servers and desktops will soon be for large organisations or niche applications.

Almost every business is going to have to plan its move to the cloud, those who don’t are increasingly going to be left behind in a shifting market.