Intuit Assist Brings Generative AI To Small Business And Consumer Portfolio

By Patrick Moorhead - October 4, 2023

Intuit recently announced a major enhancement to its product suite—an AI-driven helper called Intuit Assist. The company is deploying this functionality to its 100 million customers to offer personalized smart recommendations across QuickBooks, TurboTax, Credit Karma and Mailchimp.

The financial technology giant rightly says that Intuit Assist brings enterprise-grade generative AI (GAI) to its core audience of small businesses and consumers. Our analysts and I have tracked no less that 100 tech company Generative AI announcements, and it is apparent who was surprised and who wasn’t. As we saw with “cloud-washing” some companies are “AI-washing”. This is not the case with Intuit. I think that both the scope and the timing of this launch speak volumes about the savvy AI strategy that Intuit has followed for years—since long before OpenAI came into the limelight in November 2022. And because we’re talking about Intuit, it’s no surprise that this functionality comes with the kind of precision and security that users require from financial products. It’s one thing to make a mistake on Bard or Bing Chat planning a Spain vacation, it’s an entirely level of accuracy required for financially running a household or business.

For a deeper dive on the company’s proprietary AI operating system and other technology driving Intuit Assist, look out for an analysis soon from Moor Insights & Strategy vice president and principal analyst Paul Smith-Goodson. In this piece, I want to focus on how Intuit Assist could give a boost to each of Intuit’s major products—and I think make life easier for all of its customers.

Using Generative AI for smarter handling of financial tasks

As the size of Intuit’s user base attests, many millions of people already trust Intuit with their taxes and their personal or business bookkeeping. But there are still many points along the way where a user needs more guidance on the best steps to take next. Any consumer or small business that have used any of the company’s tools knows this. That’s where Intuit Assist comes in.

I believe the system cleverly harnesses a mix of general-purpose large language models (LLMs), secure proprietary AI models and Intuit’s wealth of data shared by users to deliver personalized insights. Intuit Assist provides contextual problem solving similar to how Google has embedded AI assistant into its Workspace products and Microsoft has added “copilot” features across its applications. In each example, these tech titans are combining high-powered AI with carefully managed data to offer specific help right at the point it’s needed.

In the case of Intuit Assist, the system also knows when to route a user to a human expert for issues that need more advanced guidance. This is a great idea from the standpoint of customer experience when you consider how sensitive matters of personal finance can be. I do wonder how many years it will be until Intuit no longer needs to “phone home” to a human versus a smarter algorithm.

How Intuit Assist wants to improve TurboTax, QuickBooks, Credit Karma and Mailchimp

Intuit already dominates multiple categories with products that are household names, and I expect that Intuit Assist will only reinforce the company’s market position. I believe generative AI stands to improve the user experience for each of its major products

In TurboTax, Intuit Assist is designed to learn each tax filer’s situation to create a personalized tax checklist, answer specific questions and recommend actions throughout the year for maximizing refunds. This should make it faster and easier for filers to complete their returns and get access to their refunds, whether they’re filing on their own or using expert human assistance via TurboTax Live.

For small businesses using QuickBooks, Intuit Assist is designed to examine customer behavior and the performance of the business to highlight potential cash flow issues, identify the most successful products, generate invoice reminders and call out any changes in spending patterns. Even better, it can provide personalized guidance like this based on natural-language queries like “Which invoices are overdue?” or “Show profit and loss for last month.” The company says that Intuit Assist will also help new QuickBooks users get up and running faster than ever.

Credit Karma members can also make simple queries to get personalized answers from Intuit Assist. For instance, a user could type “Help me find a credit card,” and the system will work from that user’s financial data to figure out which card is right for them—and then apply for it with a few easy clicks. It could also help a user living paycheck to paycheck come up with a plan to avoid running out of cash when unexpected expenses arise. The company says it wants to empower users to optimize spending, find the best financial products, make good decisions and act with confidence in ways that improve their financial lives.

Businesspeople using Mailchimp can take advantage of Intuit Assist to formulate and carry out more of their marketing tasks. Intuit Assist can help create and schedule marketing campaigns, automatically draft emails based on product and service data from QuickBooks (smart cross-product integration there), promote engagement from prospects and prioritize sales leads.

A commitment to strong data privacy, security and AI governance

As I touched on earlier, Intuit is hardly a newcomer to handling AI at scale. Based on the product improvements it has implemented over the past several years, the company says it is already delivering more than 800 million AI-driven customer interactions each year, along with more than 65 billion predictions driven by machine learning per day. It also runs two million AI models in production daily, and it has filed more than 900 patents related to AI, machine learning and data science.

Given that background—and Intuit’s prominence in the world of personal and small-business finance—it makes sense that Intuit long ago ironed out a strong governance model to ensure data privacy and security as well as the responsible use of AI. This includes a rigorous formal review process before any GAI technology goes into production, and all parts of the governance model keep the company on the lookout for anything that would create potential harms for customers. Generative AI is different in ways to ML and DL, but methods for security and privacy are similar.

Long story short, Intuit has spent decades building trust with households and small businesses across the U.S. and the world, and I don’t believe they’re about to foul it up now. This doesn’t mean the company will never make a mistake, every company does, but given the company’s early embrace of the cloud and ML, this isn’t foreign.

Wrapping up

Intuit says that it wants to serve as “the trusted financial assistant by the side of our consumer and small business customers.” I believe Intuit Assist will only increase its ability to do that as it delivers on its promises. A lot of the buzz around AI in the past year hasn’t had much substance behind it; by contrast, I believe Intuit Assist shines because its insights, recommendations and appropriate shortcuts are intuitive (no pun intended) and immediately helpful.

If you want an example of how AI is fundamentally changing the ways we work and live, this is a great one. An innovation like this can work only because Intuit has combined seriously useful functionality with a serious commitment to responsible stewardship and accuracy. Both parts of that equation are mandatory if you’re going to ask people to make financial decisions based on your AI-driven recommendations, and Intuit definitely delivers on both parts.

Intuit has stood out for many years as a responsible steward in the small business, tax and consumer finance segments. The sophistication of Intuit Assist also shows how far ahead of the curve the company has been with its AI investments across the past decade. Kudos to Intuit for delivering accurate and personalized AI-driven experiences at scale, which reinforces its leadership position in generative AI for the consumer and small business fintech space.

As an industry analyst, I have to opine on what the future looks like. At Intuit, I could imagine a roadmap where GAI is used across the platform to help make an even better assistant as it has so much better data. As we are seeing from other SaaS companies, I can see GAI being used to stitch separate apps together versus rewriting for integration. Oracle had to rewrite Fusion to work well across different app modules and data, but I think the GAI layer will save SaaS companies’ time. Finally, I must wonder when GAI is smarter than an experienced CPA at answering questions about a return.

There’s a lot innovation to come, but I am impressed at where Intuit is at now!

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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.