Several clients and prospective NetSuite customers have asked various questions about this year’s NetSuite conference that took place on April 24th - 27th. This blog post will hopefully highlight and summarize the main points and themes presented during the 3 day event and some of my personal takeaways.
For those that have been in the NetSuite space for any length of time, the two obvious differences with this year’s conference were the following. First, SuiteWorld 2017 took place at The Sands Expo Hall within the Venetian in Las Vegas which was a big departure from the usual San Jose (McEnery) Convention Center venue. And second, this year was just on the heels of the completion of the NetSuite acquisition by Oracle for $9+ billion. Mark Hurd, Oracle co-CEO was in attendance for the very first time and made two formal appearances both to NetSuite Solution Provider and Alliance Partners on Monday and then again during the customer keynote on Tuesday. He even allowed time for Q&A after each session.
One thing that didn't change was FinancialForce's attempt to greet NetSuite travelers arriving at McCarron airport with messages that NetSuite users have other options, imagine that! Aside from the predictable guerrilla marketing tactics at the airport there was very little presence of FinancialForce throughout Las Vegas this year - no FrankenCloud driving billboards! If anything the effort we get to witness each year is amusing.
NEXT STARTS NOW
The main theme of this year’s event was titled “Next Starts Now”. This theme was echoed throughout the entire event for both partners and customers. Based upon all the announcements a better slogan might have been called “More, More and More”
During the two sessions that Mark Hurd presented at, he made it very clear that Oracle’s decision to acquire NetSuite was to invest in the product and increase its distribution especially outside the United States. At a high level this means an additional six data centers to be located in Chicago, Frankfurt, Australia, Singapore, Japan and China. Expanding its existing 10 field offices to 23 additional countries. Increasing headcount by 50 percent and expanded product functionality to support international customer demands.
He went on to discuss market trends in cloud computing and stated that ERP and database applications accounted for the top two categories of software spend globally and that cloud-based ERP applications would surpass that of on-premise in just a few years (see chart below).
For context, SAP is predicting their cloud applications will surpass their on-premise revenues by 2018. Hurd jokingly said that in addition to "Oracle being in love with NetSuite", that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity for Oracle to dominate both in the database and Cloud ERP sectors and felt NetSuite was the ideal solution to invest in and lead the SMB and Mid-Market space with its powerful suite of applications.
He made the point to say that both NetSuite and Oracle Fusion products will remain together in perpetuity and that there will not be a red line where a certain type or size company has to license one ERP over the other but that historically there was very little overlap between the two products and the markets they serve, NetSuite in the SMB and Mid-Market space and Oracle in the Enterprise space.
Hurd reiterated that NetSuite will remain a Global Business Unit (GBU) of Oracle and suggested he didn't want to bog down NetSuite with the bureaucracy that comes with running a 40 billion dollar organization.
Constellation Research - Cloud Adoption By Budget
- I suspect NetSuite's product offering will become more "Global" and new features will be pushed out at a higher velocity given the additional investment R&D and operations. We already starting to see this in the SuiteCommerce portfolio of products. In addition, I suspect we'll see additional recruitment of both SuiteCloud Development Network (SDN) and Solution Provider Partners to support the big push in global distribution of NetSuite.
- Interaction with NetSuite sales, support and operations should not see much change in the United States however globally you will see more physical presence and capability. I have heard that Oracle sales reps will be able to sell NetSuite products and it appears Oracle is hiring field sales reps to sell professional services. In light of this I suspect the market will feel more of NetSuite's presence than they did prior to the acquisition.
- NetSuite's suite of products will be geared towards the SMB and Mid-Market space (NetSuite no longer has a Direct Enterprise Sales Team) and staying laser focused on the existing verticals...Wholesale Distribution, Manufacturing, Software, Services, Nonprofit, Retail and Ecommerce.
- NetSuite is doubling down on the "suite" messaging by adding full blown HCM (SuitePeople) to the suite and making significant investments in the SuiteCloud platform for its SDN Partner ecosystem by making it easier to market, sell and deploy "Built for NetSuite" or BFN apps. (See the "new" wheel below). In addition, NetSuite is making significant investment in the SuiteCommerce portfolio of products, more below on SuiteCommerce Standard.
NEW PRODUCTS & SERVICES
There were several product announcements at this NetSuite conference but the biggest one was the introduction to SuitePeople by Joseph Fung, VP HCM Products at NetSuite. Prior to NetSuite Joseph was the CEO of TribeHR which was acquired by NetSuite in 2013.
SuitePeople offers standard HR capabilities, analytics and compliance however what makes it great is that SuitePeople is fully baked into the rest of ever day workflows within NetSuite and comes out of the box with 50+ reports and a great looking UI and dashboard. SuitePeople has already been in use by numerous organizations and is set to be released for everyone else next month (June 1st, 2017).
According to the newly released product brochure, SuitePeople will contain the following features...
- Global employee record and HR reporting
- Purchase order and expense reporting self-service
- Company directory and organizational browsing
- Time-off management
- Employee self-service
- Employee Center
- Health and Safety
- Job and Position management
- Employee separation
- Effective dating
- Real-time dashboards with key business metrics
- Compliance management and reporting
- HR metrics/analytics, HR roles, workflows for terminations and time-off approvals, and more than 50 out-of-the box HR reports
The SuiteCommerce portfolio up until now has consisted of the SiteBuilder and SuiteCommerce Advanced (SCA) ecommerce platforms. The SiteBuilder platform has been around for about a decade now is still very much supported but no longer being actively sold and licensed. The SuiteCommerce Advanced (SCA) platform released in 2012 has now greatly matured but its still at a price point not ideally suited for a SMB's looking to "test the waters" in online commerce. Enter SuiteCommerce Standard, the latest ecommere offering (formally early 2018) by NetSuite. SuiteCommerce Standard leverages all the same great features and functionality of SCA (e.g. responsive design, faceted search, Akami CDN, Elastic search, HTTPS, SEO optimized, etc..) but peels back some of the hardcore customization capabilities and the performance / dedicated service tier options that comes available with SCA. SuiteCommerce Standard unlike SCA will provide customers with twice a year annual updates much like NetSuite ERP customers are accustomed to at a price point that falls between SiteBuilder and SuiteCommerce Advanced.
During the main keynote on Tuesday EVP NetSuite GBU, Jim McGeever announced the SuiteSuccess Program.
SuiteSuccess is a pre-packaged NetSuite sku for various verticals that NetSuite rolled out about a year ago in the Wholesale Distribution vertical.
McGeever started by saying that SuiteSuccess is not a YARIM “yet another rapid implementation model” but the result of 20 years industry leading practices condensed into a single solution.
According to McGeever, the average SuiteSuccess customer will be able to go live 60% faster and with an 18% decrease in implementation costs and see load times 66% faster than standard NetSuite accounts. Currently SuiteSuccess is available in the following verticals, Wholesale Distribution, Software, Manufacturing and Nonprofit.
SuiteSuccess has several goals but here's my personal take on the program and what NetSuite is looking to achieve...
- Its designed to streamline the sales and scoping process and differentiate from how other ERP providers are selling their solutions
- It will reduce the number of hours of professional services for the initial implementation and the length of time to go-live
- It will provide more structure and alignment around delivering what was originally scoped and sold.
- The program should reduce the number of change orders during a NetSuite implementation
- SuiteSuccess accounts that are supported by NetSuite Support should be able to provide issue resolution faster/easier.
I believe for the right customer SuiteSuccess can be a fine option to consider but its not a silver bullet for all customers. The key to success with NetSuite with this new implementation methodology is to align with a partner that has a long term view of your business needs and has a methodology to support you long after the initial go-live. Having a consulting firm that takes a plan for the marriage approach instead of just the wedding will be equally important as choosing the initial implementation strategy.