Back in the late 90’s, when the application service provider model was first established, a number of providers recognized how beneficial it would be for public accountants to use hosted applications to work more closely with their accounting and bookkeeping clients. Seeking markets which would rapidly adopt a hosted application model, these providers focused on hosting small business accounting solutions such as Intuit QuickBooks desktop products, and then sought participation by the largest addressable communities of users working with those products – QuickBooks ProAdvisors, bookkeepers and accountants. The idea was that the community of QuickBooks professionals would benefit by bringing their clients onto the hosting platform, and service providers could sell to one professional and gain a bunch of small business users. It made sense, too, as it allowed the professional to have a single service and login that allowed them to access all their client QuickBooks company files. The client could log in to the system, too, delivering remote access and managed service benefits to the client, as well. But there was a catch, and it didn’t fully reveal itself until recently as cloud-based applications and true SaaS applications began to gain market adoption.
The problem actually started to reveal itself as more businesses elected to adopt hosting services. There’s a saying amongst the QuickBooks hosting providers that “nobody uses just QuickBooks”. Saying “nobody” uses just QuickBooks is a bit of a stretch, but the reality is that numerous businesses use other applications and software solutions in addition to their QuickBooks product. Sometimes these products integrate with QuickBooks and sometimes they don’t, but it is not often that a business utilizes just the one software solution. At minimum, there are likely email or productivity tools in use, too. The point is that the QuickBooks hosting providers – those hosts focusing on providing service to QuickBooks accountants and small business clients – realized that the number and variety of applications desired by their customers would grow very quickly, as would the variety of needed implementation models. The unfortunate solution of the time was to just put it all on the same environment.