The backstory of NetSuite’s announcements at SuiteWorld in Las Vegas is all about data and what it enables. Specifically, the company apparently wants to help its customers accelerate their use of their own customer data to affect customer outcomes. On one level, there’s nothing new about this but on another, it’s the fulfillment of a long-term strategy that was abetted by Oracle’s acquisition of the company less than two years ago. Let’s unpack this.
First off, NetSuite is a cloud oriented back office company and in that it is fairly traditional, except its cloud roots enable it to run circles around its largely terrestrial competition. Cloud computing’s benefits have always included fast time to implementation and lower costs which have the effect of broadening the market for the company’s multi-national ERP and financials to companies that need the capabilities but can’t necessarily afford the expense.
Second, back office systems collect a huge amount of data as a matter of course, which NetSuite has increasingly used to its benefit and that of its customers. Starting with business intelligence (BI) NetSuite has always offered good reporting on what a business has done. But this week the company announced a doubling down by adding Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to the mix. The new capabilities are much in demand and will enable customers to better predict what customers will want or need enabling better attentiveness and engagement.
With new Artificial Intelligence and machine learning capabilities within NetSuite, we’re equipping our customers to understand not only what’s happened with their business, but what will happen in the future and how they can stay ahead.
Table stakes raised
But all of this is table stakes and many other vendors in the front and back office software markets are making similar efforts. What helps NetSuite differentiate further is a robust eCommerce offering, SuiteCommerce that might revolutionize how its customers go to market.
Many years ago, when NetSuite was a private company, then CEO Zach Nelson told a SuiteWorld analyst meeting that its CRM strategy was more or less congruent with its eCommerce focus. Many analysts strongly disagreed with the premise, but over time NetSuite has continued to deliver on that vision.
This week the company announced its SuiteCommerce product, a further refinement of its original strategy, which draws on other new capabilities as well. The long evolution of cloud computing has delivered, as a byproduct, suites of technology that deliver back office data to front office business processes and in the effort enhanced those processes. Examples include making available back office data about prior purchases and catalogue and price list information, all of which feed directly into providing ecommerce functions.
But providing the data, while important, is not sufficient to help a business to be agile in its marketplace by anticipating and meeting customer demands if implementation of ecommerce is slow and expensive. So at this SuiteWorld, NetSuite offered a perfect storm (in a good sense) of data and functionality by not only offering new AI and ML or even SuiteCommerce.
To demonstrate how easily and quickly it can enable a business using its core technology to add ecommerce capabilities it also offered free implementation to the first 1,000 customers to take advantage of the offer. NetSuite can make this offer because the new ecommerce technology layers on top of the rest of the suite. Again from McGeever:
With SuiteCommerce, businesses can quickly and easily launch, manage and enhance their ecommerce site. From day one, they get a single, unified solution that supports their entire business and will be the first and last system they will ever need.
So the combination of data, functionality and service or ease of use is what’s driving the perfect storm and it represents good planning and execution by the company.
Perhaps the secret sauce for what appears to be an acceleration of NetSuite’s business can be traced to the Oracle acquisition, which company leaders say has freed them to do more while providing increased resources. For instance, McGeever has said that in the EMEA region the company is beefing up its sales team significantly from a total of 60 quota-carrying reps to 600. Moreover, EVP of Development and NetSuite founder Evan Goldberg has stated that NetSuite would move its cloud infrastructure, which it pioneered at the company’s inception roughly 20 years ago, to the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) further reducing overhead.
The combination of these resources plus eliminating the responsibilities stemming from being a public company are enabling Oracle NetSuite to pour resources back into the company’s core capabilities and driving what appears to be NetSuite’s acceleration.
Lastly, it will be some time before we see the full effects of these moves, but even NetSuite’s messaging is telling. McGeever and Goldberg speak in unison about the difficulties of mid-sized companies to scale, something you can easily believe they’ve seen first hand. The capabilities and resources that NetSuite unveiled this week and that it is putting into the hands of its customers are intended to make that scaling a bit easier. This is likely signaling a change in the technology space at a time when scaling is a hot topic.