In focus with Jason Maynard, NetSuite

Profile picture for user gonzodaddy By Den Howlett July 3, 2019
NetSuite is on a roll at the moment. What's driving that? How is it benefiting from Oracle? What's the role of partners? These and other questions are the backdrop.

Jason Maynard on stage at SuiteWorld19 by @philww

I recently caught up with Jason Maynard, SVP Global Field Operations - NetSuite Global Business Unit (Oracle) to discover what's fresh and interesting in the mid-market enterprise packaged apps market from the vendor perch. 

On the most recent earnings call, Mark Hurd, co-CEO Oracle lavished praise on NetSuite saying:

I think the greatest story you can see here is the NetSuite story that we doubled the rate. And if I didn't say enough things about NetSuite, because I'm sure the NetSuite team is listening. Let me say NetSuite, NetSuite, NetSuite. They have just done a fabulous job. And they're doing a fabulous job, not just growing internationally, but growing domestically. A lot of this performance in NetSuite is just pure US domestic performance, more salespeople, more industries, micro industries that we build for, better execution.

Expanding on those points, Maynard said that the results come from better execution following the impact of SuiteSuccess, its packaged implementation and optimization offering. Back in 2016, Phil Wainewright noted that NetSuite was targeting microverticals as part of the then relatively new SuiteSuccess program. Fast forward to the most recent SuiteWorld and Wainewright was saying:

What intrigued me most of all though was the introduction of Brainyard, an exercise in opening up NetSuite's internal bank of knowledge about how to make the most of its products. There is no better example of how different the SaaS model is from traditional software business models. Instead of hoarding this knowledge and restricting access by putting an extortionate price tag on it, NetSuite has realized that making it freely available to customers and prospects will accelerate adoption of its core products.

It also recognizes the challenges businesses currently face in digesting all of the technology change being thrown at them, often with little explanation of what to do with it.

Roll forward to today and Maynard positions SuiteSuccess as a business model.

We've consistently said that the purpose of SuiteSuccess is to allow customers to adopt and consume NetSuite at a pace that suits them and that is working really well. They're all facing complex business problems and you can't simply sell them everything and hope for the best. That doesn't work. 

Alongside this, Maynard said that Netsuite is focusing more on scaling up within existing customers:

We are far from done, there's plenty to keep us busy with existing customers both in the vertical markets and internationally. Like many other vendors, we started off with expansion into countries where English is the business language of choice. Now we see immense opportunity in China, Japan and India in AsiaPacific, France and Germany are huge GDPs and with Mexico coming on stream, we have an eye to the rest of Latin America. 

But if any of this sounds easy then you'd be mistaken.

Brazilian tax? That's not easy. 

And, according to Maynard, it won't happen in the next couple of years. 

I was especially interested to hear Maynard's take on how NetSuite benefits from Oracle. Apart from some product and the obvious database topic, NetSuite is using the long-term investments Oracle made in the administration of its geographies to act as a springboard from which to launch into countries. 

An enterprise sale to a Global 2000 business is very different from the $100 million mid-sized company so we keep the processes that work for NetSuite while gaining from existing infrastructure. We need partners and resellers who understand the SuiteSuccess methodology. We're starting to see that bear fruit so, yes, plenty of work but plenty of opportunity. 

With so much to do and vertical markets very much top of my mind, I was interested to know how that second aspect is working out. I well remember the days when much of what NetSuite was doing amounted to custom work. That's changed. 

Some micro verticals like health and beauty and digital media are really interesting and good business for us but you can't do everything and you can't do it all at once. It's vital that we remain focused on delivering that best customer experience, ensure that customers are successful and, at times, be prepared to say no - or have a partner build something. We don't for instance see ourselves in process industries any time soon. Saying no is much harder than it sounds but it is the right thing on occasion. 

Brave but important words for a technology provider that until recently struggled to offer repeatable processes across industries. 

A few years ago we really didn't have a playbook that said 'Here's what we've seen as leading industry practices in these industries.' We've got that done now across a good few verticals and we pass that on to partners as part of the SuiteSuccess model alongside using it in our own engagements. It fits very well with the, and I hesitate to use this word - advisory role - we want to promote because it allows customers to have confidence in the choices they're making.

My take

The NetSuite of today is a far cry from that of even a few years ago. The opportunistic go to market model has given way to a much more purposeful approach that is yielding the kinds of outcome you'd expect from a company that has started to mature in ways that benefit customers. And that's something we see in our field tests. 

Equally, it's always good to hear a technology vendor emphasizing the need for focus. We've seen too many instances where firms go off the rails because they lost focus and ended up disappointing customers. 

My next planned check in with Maynard and the team will be at the EMEA  SuiteConnect event in October. Prior to that, we expect to field a team at Oracle OpenWorld during which NetSuite will make its next raft of product announcements. Why would we do two similar events so close together? The EMEA event will allow us to dig further into the EMEA specific story since, as Maynard knows only too well, those markets are different in each country.