A few years before online banking took off, Scott Cook, Co-Founder of Intuit, was sorting and paying bills at his kitchen table when he thought to himself: There must be a way to automate this hassle.
This single thought spurred by mild annoyance led to building a financial software company that powers prosperity for over 100 million customers worldwide.
Indeed, Intuit’s mission statement is an evergreen one. Financial confidence has always been, and will always be sought after by large enterprises, small businesses, and just about every working individual. While their goal has remained the same, the tools and technologies Intuit works with to achieve it have evolved rapidly since their inception.
Our Senior Director of Marketing, Aadil Bandukwala, and Co-Founder & CTO, Harishankaran K, sat down with Intuit India’s Site Leader and VP of Product Development, Saurabh Saxena, and Fellow Engineer & VP, Anshu Verma, to talk about how Intuit cultivates a culture of innovation in their engineering teams, their unique approaches to understanding customer problems, and more.
Check out the full recording of the discussion here or continue reading for some takeaways.
1. How AI and ML are reinventing financial services
Over the past few years, AI and ML have embedded themselves neatly into the financial services industry through robo-advisers, automating credit risk and score evaluations, enhancing customer service, to name a few.
“When you’re working with businesses’ payroll and taxes, there’s a sky-high level of precision that’s necessary. A combination of knowledge engineering and machine learning can deliver this,” says Anshu.
The Tax Knowledge Engine, a part of Intuit’s TurboTax, is an example of how they’re implementing this combination. Introduced to tackle the complexity of the American income tax system, it provides tax experts with the tools to build knowledge graphs and users with a personalized tax experience by bundling up and correlating knowledge graphs and each user’s financial needs.
2. Why empathy should steer the ship
Empathy has been positioned as the key ingredient for success in business because it deeply enhances the understanding of customer pains and challenges.
“At Intuit, we go about implementing our solutions through empathy and experimentation through a model called Design For Delight.”, Saurabh says.
With the Follow Me Home program, Intuit puts empathy at center stage by (quite literally) stepping into their customers’ shoes and observing them use their products.
“Getting the full picture of what they (customers) like and don’t like pushes our engineers and designers to conceive the next feature, product, or application easily,” says Saurabh.
3. How innovation can be enabled, realistically
By connecting engineers with customers directly and eliminating arduous multi-team reviews and approvals, Labs is a playground for creativity to thrive. “This is where features like PayByCoin which lets customers accept payments in Bitcoin, first made an appearance,” says Anshu.
“Labs is a part of QuickBooks where engineers can deploy features on their own, letting our customers experiment with it,'' he says.
Intuit provides these tools for successful innovation by keeping up with the latest technologies in the market. Not only was the company an early adopter of the open-source language GraphQL, it even joined the GraphQL Foundation as a founding member in 2019.
4. A flexible mindset is ideal for learning
“Hype cycles and trends make it seem as though there’s no way to be up-to-date on your programming knowledge, but the importance of basics like problem-solving can never be overstated,” Hari says.
While new libraries, frameworks, and even languages seem to hog developers’ focus every day, proficiency in writing clean code and constructing helpful documentation are some of the fundamentals that are always going to be valuable to a developer’s arsenal.
“Universities and colleges are great places to cultivate a flexible and open mindset, which is perfect for learning,” Hari continues.
“You’re also surrounded by enthusiastic peers who may end up being potential business partners,” he says, alluding to how he met his Co-Founder and CEO of HackerRank, Vivek, in college.
“I learned Fortran in college. When I began job hunting, I realized no one was hiring Fortran developers,” Anshu recounts. “Soon enough, I began learning C, then Sybase, C++, and Java. While adding these to my skill set wasn’t a cakewalk, it was easier than expected because I was genuinely curious and aced the basics already.”
Would you like to be a part of the culture of innovation at Intuit? We have good news - Intuit is hiring right now at https://www.intuit.com/careers/.