I spent the last three days at SuiteWorld 2011, NetSuite‘s first ever user conference, attending the keynote and analyst sessions. My interest in SuiteWorld stemmed from the fact that I really wanted to see the evolution of ERP into the cloud (It should be noted that ERP is considered to be the last frontier for SaaS) and understand NetSuite’s SuiteCloud platform for my research on enterprise platforms. I will list out some of my thoughts about the event in this blog post.
- SaaS ERP is real, at least in the small and medium segment. Organizations are not only using it but they are also loving it. From my conversations I had with some of their users, cost savings, lack of maintenance headaches and agility are cited as reasons for the SMEs’ move to SaaS based ERP.
- NetSuite is trying to move up the enterprise market by releasing NetSuite Unlimited, a comprehensive package costing approximately $1 Million which gives organizations unlimited modules, unlimited storage, unlimited users, unlimited applications, customizations, etc.. It will be interesting to see how they meet the competition from the traditional vendors like SAP, Microsoft, etc. as well as newer ones like Workday. They announced Qualcomm as an enterprise customer and talked about their partnership with Accenture and McGladrey. For a more detailed take on NetSuite’s move to target enterprises, check out this post by Esteban Kolsky.
- What struck me the most was how much effort NetSuite has put up in developing the localization features in their apps and platform, to meet the demands of the globalized world. It is time SaaS vendors focus more on “globalizing” their offerings and tap into the vast market outside of US. On a side note, I also want to highlight the fact that market penetration of NetSuite inside Australia is amazing.
- One of the criticisms hurled at SaaS is the apparent lack of customization and configuration options (which are available with On-Premise solutions). NetSuite showed the power of their platform by highlighting deeper levels of customization and/or configuration. I think it is time to stop the FUD coming out from the PR machines of traditional vendors on this front.
- I have always wondered about how people outside the Silicon Valley Bubble (a broader term I use for folks whose thinking are influenced by the happenings at the Silicon Valley) can use Cloud Computing. NetSuite and eBizNet showed a powerful demo of the Warehouse Management System SuiteApp which completely optimizes all functions and resources inside the warehouses or distribution centers vastly reducing the fulfillment costs and improving the customer service. I think it is important for SaaS vendors to showcase real world examples like this to take the cloud deep inside the non-tech world. I am very impressed with the demo.
- NetSuite and Yammer announced their partnership to form SuiteSocial, the social layer for NetSuite users similar to Chatter for Salesforce users. As I highlighted in my Social Business Case Study, companies reliant on Salesforce.com platform prefer Chatter over Yammer because of the deep integration between the two. Yammer’s partnership with NetSuite gives them the same kind of advantage with NetSuite users. However, I should note that Qontext, another social collaboration company, has a very deep integration with NetSuite and, also, a very good alternative to Yammer on NetSuite platform. In fact, Qontext goes beyond the activity streams and there are some interesting features like the ability to pin an activity in the context of a process, application or accounts which makes Qontext very appealing. I will be watching this company closely in the future.
- One thing that I found odd was NetSuite’s lack of interest in developing an integration platform similar to Workday. When Workday started offering an integration platform for their customers, I expected NetSuite to follow the suit. I asked this question to both their CEO (during the analyst event) and COO (during the meetup with enterprise irregulars and few other bloggers). Their response was that they are working closely with System Integrators like Boomi (Dell), Cast Iron (IBM), Pervasive, Informatica, etc. and they think that is the best strategy for them. In fact, their COO also pointed out that there are way too many integration points with enterprise customers and it is better to leave the integration to System Integrators than NetSuite trying their hands with it.
SuiteWorld 2011 offered me a chance to get introduced to NetSuite’s applications and platforms. I will keep a tab on them in the coming months/years. Especially, I am interested in monitoring their progress on the enterprise side.
(Disclosure: NetSuite took care of my travel, food and stay during the event along with many other analysts from all over the world. Workday is a sponsor of CloudAve).
- Platform, Partners Key to NetSuite’s Future (pcworld.com)
- NetSuite the new Applications Unlimited (dealarchitect.typepad.com)
- Hubspan and Netsuite Join Hands To Offer B2B Integration (cloudave.com)
- Yammer Ups Its Enterprise Game with NetSuite Integration (readwriteweb.com)
- NetSuite aims at enterprises with ‘unlimited’ ERP push (infoworld.com)
- Next Step for Social Business – Making ERP social and collaborative (gautamblogs.com)
- Google Apps, NetSuite take on Microsoft with tighter cloud integration (infoworld.com)
- NetSuite OpenAir untangles the professional services ‘hairball’ (enterpriseirregulars.com)