I had an advance briefing yesterday from NetSuite who are announcing this morning a new partnership with Hein & Associates. Hein is a full-service public accounting and advisory firm with offices in Denver, Houston, Dallas, and Irvine, California. This partnership sees them partner with NetSuite to provide a services offering around the NetSuite product.
This is interesting on a number of levels – originally targeted as a mid-market product, NetSuite seems to be moving up the food chain and is having more success with larger organizations. They’re also encountering the fact that larger business require ongoing services tied with their solutions. Despite the hand waving among SaaS evangelists (and I’m one myself), the larger the organization, the more complex its needs and often this translates into a need for external consulting services – the best way to offer this is for vendors to strategically partner with firms that have a services pedigree.
As Mike Kulisch, Director of Business Development for NetSuite said “when moving upmarket, customers want services and added implementation offerings – especially in Accounting where GAAP, IFRS and SOX all make life more complex.”
Interestingly enough, the press release was couched in the following terms:
…announced a partnership to provide both public and private companies with a range of customized accounting and regulatory compliance solutions …
I quizzed Kulisch a number of times about this as it really sounded like something exciting – a series of applications tailored for distinct verticals. Late last year Phil Wainewright and I discussed this very issue over dinner with a number of NetSuite people – at the time I suggested that if NetSuite’s focus was in fact moving up into larger businesses, then as well as partnering with services vendors with specific domain knowledge, it would become more important to customize and tailor the actually software to suite those particular verticals.
Hein even tacitly admit this themselves, managing partner Larry Unruh stating that:
Our focus is on providing customized solutions that exceed our client’s expectations, and NetSuite’s software allows us to continue doing that
So while I like the idea of professional services firms helping ease the on ramp (and smooth the ongoing path) for larger customers, I’d especially like to see some real customization of solutions for specific verticals come out of the larger players…