Customer stories take center stage at NetSuite Cloud Day

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan October 6, 2015
Three NetSuite customers take the leading role at NetSuite's London-based Cloud Day. More storytelling from the cloud ERP firm.

As we noted earlier in the year, the NetSuite SuiteWorld conference in San Jose was rather different this year, with CMO Fred Studier’s philosophy of storytelling by customers taking the place of hard-sell demos and product pitches.

That worked in the US and given that, it was good to see the same principle applied to a London Cloud Day event yesterday as CEO Zach Nelson devoted his keynote presentation to 3 differing NetSuite users.

First up was takeaway food delivery firm Deliveroo, representing the start-up element of the NetSuite customer footorint. Finance Director Emma Whibley explained:

Our two founders are both American. They were living in London and found a gap in the market when they couldn’t get food that they wanted delivered. So we’re an on demand delivery service that lets people order from restaurants that don’t normally delivery.

Whibley has been in her role for five months:

I am the first accountant to join the company. Prior to that, the CEO was doing the accounts. We needed a system in place for all out jurisdictions. At first this was five countries - Ireland, France, Germany, the UK and the US. We’re now in 12 countries.

The decision to roll out NetsSuite was taken in June, with the initial 5 countries going live in August. Whibley had used NetSuite in a previous role so was familiar with the product, which probably helped as the new system was set up by her, not an IT team. With financials now in place, the next phase will involve inventory management, followed by reporting functionality.

Next up was Bhaagi Gohil, VP American Express Global Business Travel, a customer first unveiled at the SuiteWorld event in May. The firm, spun off from the main body of American Express, operates in 28 countries and deals with 28 million trips per annum.

Currently over 80% of transactions are now dealt with by NetSuite with the final phase of a 4-part roll out taking place next month. Some 30 systems around the world will then have been replaced by OneWorld. Gohil said:

We are acting like a billion dollar start-up. We’ve created an infrastructure without disrupting the customer experience.

As for the employee experience internally., Gohil pointed the the ability to get financial information in real time rather than having to wait for data to be gathered, processed and delivered to executives.

Sandwich menu

Last up on stage was sandwich chain Pret A Manger, which is rolling out NetSuite OneWorld to deal with mission-critical business processes across the UK, US, France, Hong Kong and China, including procure-to-pay, credit-to-cash, global financial consolidation, multicurrency management for five different currencies, including the Euro, US dollar, and British pound, and multi-language capabilities, including English, French and Cantonese.

Pret A Manger operates 390 shops in five markets, serving over 450,000 customers, and needed a financial management system that could support expansions into new markets.

CIO Andy Chalkin noted that every Pret branch operates as its own entity within the wider network, both when it comes to making sandwiches and in the way it runs its business:

Every Pret has a kitchen so every branch is both a manufacturing and retail center. So we never run out of sandwiches because we can always go into the kitchen make somer more. But that means we need a massive staff base and that in turn requires a lot of planning and data.

We don’t customise our products. That requires us to be predictive about how we predict demand and feed that information into the kitchens. You should never see a Pret looking like a Russian supermarket by mid-afternoon. Every single shop is its own shop and handles its own inventory.

The chain has grown dramatically since its founding in 1986 and as it grew so too did the number of systems it uses. OneWorld will be replacing 28 financial applications around the globe.

Chalkin said that the changes are backed by the business which had “naysayers and believers”, but are now so convinced of the direction of travel that his team are spending time managing expectations.

Away from the main stage, another customer win that was flagged up is with newsagent chain WHSmith UK which has launched a new cloud-based B2B online commerce system for its franchise and wholesale partners across the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia to make purchases, manage payments, review order history and account details, and request refunds and returns from an online environment.

David McGrath, head of shared IT services at WHSmith, said:

To meet the needs of our customers we needed to develop a world-class business-to-business commerce capability. WHSmith sells its own brand and selected branded merchandise to over 200 franchise stores and various wholesale customers throughout the world. It's a win-win for both WHSmith and our franchise partners that will streamline operations, help us future-proof our business and open the door to strategic opportunities for continued growth.

My take

Customer testimonials are always the best validation. A neat, concise keynote with 3 interesting examples of NetSuite's customer base. The storytelling is working.

Disclosure - at time of writing, NetSuite is a premier partner of diginomica. 

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