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Oracle OpenWorld 2019 - NetSuite sends customers a confident message on visibility, control and agility

Jessica Twentyman Profile picture for user jtwentyman September 19, 2019
At the SuiteConnect event at Oracle OpenWorld, the mid-market cloud ERP company brought clear context to new product announcements


Running a growing business can be overwhelming, unpredictable and chaotic without the right levels of visibility and control, according to Evan Goldberg, executive vice president of Oracle NetSuite.

In an assured keynote at the company’s SuiteConnect event in San Francisco today, part of Oracle OpenWorld, Goldberg told attendees:

The journey to building a company sometimes does seem like a [computer] game. You’re heading towards a North Star and you have limited time and resources, you have obstacles. So how, in that challenging environment, do you unlock growth and face it with entrepreneurial spirit and grit?

That set the stage nicely for his discussion of a number of enhancements to the company’s product suite, designed to give customers precisely that visibility and control, as well as the agility to unlock new growth opportunities.

In terms of visibility, NetSuite has introduced new querying, pivoting and charting capabilities to its SuiteAnalytics tools in its 19.2 release, as well as 17 new pre-built Workbooks, each designed for specific roles and industries.

But while visibility is important, Goldberg said, it’s very easy to veer off-course when you’re moving at high speed, which is why NetSuite customers look to the company to help them keep control.

NetSuite 19.2 has several new features designed to deliver control. One is the Supply Chain Control Tower, a dashboard designed for product companies to help them get a handle on the movement of goods to customers. This now offers predictive risks, built on the Intelligent Suite Machine Learning and AI platform, in order to proactively identify potential hiccups and delays, so that they can be avoided. For services companies, meanwhile, there are new project budgeting capabilities, including the ability to create multiple versions of a budget plan.

But while visibility and control are needed, they aren’t sufficient alone to help a company meet its growth goals, Goldberg told his audience.

When big opportunities show up, these big tectonic shifts, these inflection points, to take advantage of them they need a third key element and that’s agility.

Here, he showcased SuiteScript 2.1, in beta for the current release, which is the latest upgrade to the development toolkit that customers use to make the necessary customizations to their business processes that arise when they shift, for example, to focus on new customer types or from expanding their offerings from services only to also including products.

Context, context, context

What’s interesting about all these product announcements is the way that Goldberg was able to firmly position them in context - and more specifically, the context of the challenges facing small and mid-market companies with an appetite for growth.

The growth message is a drum that NetSuite has been banging for some time now, as I pointed out in my report from last year’s OpenWorld SuiteConnect event. But this year, this contextual framing lent the message more depth and maturity, as did appearances on stage by a number of NetSuite customers, including hair salon and products company Drybar and pharmaceutical company Precision Medical Products, to discuss their specific challenges when it comes to visibility, control and agility.

The message is also being delivered with more confidence by executives as NetSuite finds its feet within the wider Oracle organization. As Den Howlett recently discussed, NetSuite is getting great credit from Oracle’s leadership for its own impressive growth inside its new(ish) owner. In his discussion with Jason Maynard, NetSuite’s senior vice president of field operations, Maynard told Den that much of NetSuite’s recent success can be attributed to better execution arising from its packaged implementation and optimization offering, SuiteSuccess.

So it was no surprise to see NetSuite make further SuiteSuccess announcements today. These include expanded vertical capabilities across a number of industries, including food & beverage and restaurant & hospitality, as well as across specific areas of business, including human resources and planning and budgeting.

Move to OCI

Finally, Goldberg used SuiteConnect to highlight the company’s plans to move its SaaS business onto the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) - in one stroke boosting the chances for NetSuite’s long-held international expansion ambitions to really take flight, by taking advantage of its parent company’s global infrastructure, and at the same time providing Oracle with great validation that its cloud infrastructure (and the autonomous database that underpins it) can handle some big-time challenges. Said Goldberg:

Oracle is making the same promise to us that we’ve been making to customers for years: ‘Don’t worry about the plumbing and all the wiring it takes to plug in servers, just run your business.’ It’s an elastic, automated infrastructure, so we can concentrate on making the best business apps possible. In general, this will be transparent to our customers but it really will deliver great value.

Customers in Frankfurt and London are already live on OCI and, over the next 18 months, NetSuite plans to go live in a total of 18 OCI data centers across the US, EMEA and JAPAC. By Spring 2020, the plan is to provision all new NetSuite customers in Europe on OCI and the company also plans to have two US OCI regions available to customers by that time.

My take

Anyone still predicting that NetSuite could ‘disappear’ under Oracle’s ownership needs to urgently review the organization’s progress in the last three years. If anything, it’s emerged as more focused and purposeful during that period, managing to firmly retain its own culture and mission while smartly taking advantage of the vast resources its new parent offers it.

At this year’s OpenWorld SuiteConnect, we saw a great deal of self-awareness - and an unerring concentration on the corporate demographic that NetSuite serves. Our next check-in with NetSuite will be at the SuiteConnect event in London in late October, just two days ahead of the UK’s probable Brexit date. What particular ‘flavour’ that will lend to the event’s proceedings remains to be seen - but the ‘entrepreneurial spirit and grit’ of which Goldberg spoke at this week’s event will be urgently needed by its UK customers.

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