Intuit and Salesforce Show Promise of an API Partnership Future

Millions of small businesses use QuickBooks for accounting and invoicing, but for many a view of customer data ends there. A partnership between QuickBooks maker Intuit and enterprise software-as-a-service company Salesforce looks to bring more insights to small business customers. To connect the seemingly disparate worlds in which the companies operate, they're using their APIs, namely the Intuit Data Service API.

SalesForce for QuickBooks is an added service for customers with either the desktop accounting software or QuickBooks Online. It syncs contacts between the two platforms, which means customer data can be crunched in the typical SalesForce fashions. Of course, that's typical of enterprise customers, the sort for whom Salesforce is a standard tool. Most small businesses aren't your typical Salesforce customer.

"Salesforce for QuickBooks is bringing the benefits of a CRM to 4.5 Million QuickBooks customers," Intuit's Jonathan Meltzer said. Beyond the marketing angle is a story of how APIs are making these sorts of partnerships possible. In a way, we've returned to a past where companies share data in order to create something new together. APIs grease the wheels, because many of the data exchange pieces are already in place.

Intuit already had an API to access QuickBooks data. It already had the permissions in place to ensure data safety. To get QuickBooks data into Salesforce meant connecting the pieces together. The whole business relationship and marketing aspect? When you're selling technology, that's supposed to be the easy part. APIs also enabling the technology to be the easy part.

We've seen similar stories in the past. CitySearch and Yellow Pages teamed up a year ago in what the New York Times called a "counter-intuitive approach." These sorts of partnerships may become more the norm. Location-sharing Platform Foursquare has landed big-name partners, from American Express to ESPN. Its Foursquare API allows anyone to tap into its platform, but it also allows quick, distributed work on new partnerships.

Expect stories, like this latest announcement from Intuit and Salesforce, to become more common, as those in business development discover how APIs can make smooth new partnership opportunities.

Be sure to read the next Enterprise article: Mashery Non-Cloud Option Could Mean Even More APIs