While the CEO keynotes are an essential part of any vendor conference in setting out the corporate stall and outlining the roadmap to the company faithful, it’s the customer testimonials that provide the peer-to-peer affirmation. Sadly all too often customers are referenced through slick corporate videos that are carefully tailored, toned and edited for maximum sales pitch.
Kudos then to NetSuite for rolling out three live customers on stage at yesterday’s Suite Connect conference in London. OK, clearly it’s not the cut and thrust of a genuine journalist or analyst interview, but just having customers fielding questions at all is a bonus.First up was Shazam, a UK music identification service which uses a smartphone's built-in microphone to gather a brief sample of music being played, creates an acoustic fingerprint based on the sample, and compares it against a central database for a match. If it finds a match, it sends information such as the artist, song title, and album back to the user.
Shazam is using NetSuite OneWorld to run its core financial processes all within a single unified software system.
Clare Jarvis, finance director at Shazam, explained that the company has evolved since 1999 when it was founded and customers used what she referred to as their “Nokia bricks” to dial up the service:
We have a very complex revenue stream with multiple sources of revenue. The app is ad-supported. so we have different ways to purchase ad space on the app itself, like banners or listening screen takeovers. We partner with streaming firms like Spotify. and if you really don’t want the ads, you can buy a premium app.
Our business challenge was that we had a legacy system that didn’t allow multiple ledgers in multiple currencies. Converting from GBP to native currency was tricky. So this was a big challenge, for example,when doing a US tax return. NetSuite allows us to hold multiple currency ledgers.
Next up was Supercell, the fastest growing company in Finland, and developer of three top-grossing games on the Apple and Google app stores - Clash of Clans, Hay Day, and Boom Beach.]
We only implemented in February/March this year so we haven’t utilized all the capabilities yet. We want to move to real-time analytics and to integrate with our sales force systems. Overall we want to get better and more in-depth reporting at a granular level.
The company had outgrown its existing on-premise accounting software and needed to be able to do financial consolidation across its four subsidiaries in the US, Japan , South Korea and Denmark as well as needing multi-currency capabilities enabling it to transact in seven key currencies, the Euro and those of the US, UK, Denmark, Japan, South Korea, and China.
Heikki Puomila, Supercell head of accounting, said:
We had multiple subsidiaries using their own systems with consolidation done in Excel. We needed to get the correct numbers, right first time. For me personally it was important that we didn’t have our transactional processes done separately.
We started with NetSuite in the UK in late January and went live on 1 April, so it was a rapid implementation. We were able to convert all of our transactions since 2010 when we were were founded, so now we have all of that history consolidated in one place.
Finally The Marketing Store presented itself as something a bit different - a company that is effectively a products business and a services business.
As well as providing marketing services to clients across ten countries, it is responsible for the production of hundreds of millions of toys each year for McDonalds Happy Meals.
Peter Cox, Marketing Store’s global SVP, business process improvement, explained:
The firm wanted to be able to collate information across its operations, such as detailed financial and supplier information, as well as to replace legacy supply chain platforms at its Hong Kong office which deals with Vietnamese and Chinese manufacturing partners.
We are an unusual company because while we are built around marketing services, we also produce toys. We are the largest toy manufacturer by volume in the world. We have ten locations and 1000 people and produce 800 million toys a year.
So we are a products and a services company. They are two different businesses in many ways. We were looking for a system that could cope with all the different types of processes we have.
The firm went live with NetSuite OneWorld last year in Europe and is now rolling out to other global operations.
The big lesson we’ve learned is realizing that NetSuit is different than other systems. You can do a whole lot more, but equally you need a different approach. It’s getting the balance right between an off-the-shelf product but at the same time something you customize for your own business. There are of course huge efficiencies in something off-the-shelf but equally there are great benefits of customizing it for yourself.
In the grand scheme of things, three ‘cameo appearances’ really, but it’s always good to hear the voice of the customer at vendor shindigs like Suite Connect. (Derek will be drilling down a bit deeper with a couple of other customers in the coming days.)
Disclosure: at time of writing, NetSuite is a premier partner of diginomica.