NetSuite pitches usability, functionality and balance

A balance between usability and functionality is the theme of the recent release of NetSuite 2007, but the vendor is also promising the new features will provide greater opportunity for value-added resellers to build on the NetSuite platform.Based in San Mateo, Calif., the hosted CRM and e-commerce vendor’s latest release of its flagship offering includes a set of wizard-like tools designed to ease the implementation and ongoing management process for its SMB users.

“What we’re talking about is a nice harmony of power and ease of use,” said Sean Rollings, NetSuite’s senior director, marketing.

Dubbed NetSuite assistants, the tools include Easy ERP to simplify database migration and manage ongoing migrations from an operational database into the NetSuite system. The new release also aims to simplify international business management with enhanced support for multinational sales that lets users view and manipulate sales data from a consolidated view all the way down to the local level.

And Rollings promises the SuiteAnalytics tool delivers enterprise business intelligence with real-time operational analytics, tactical reporting and the ability to offload data to a third-party package like Microsoft Excel for a more strategic view.

“It’s giving people not only the functionality they need to do their business but also ways to do it more efficiently and productively,” said Rollings.

With the 2007 release replacing NetSuite 11, Rollings said NetSuite is responding to customer feedback for an annual update cycle, although he joked they also wanted to avoid a version 13 “for predominately superstitious reasons.”

He added with some of the new tools included in NetSuite 2007 there is now more opportunity for partners to build on the NetSuite Platform. As an example he points to SuiteBundler, a tool for the creation of custom add-on process modules that Rollings said allows partners to create vertical additions that they can market as their own offerings.

“That’s something we really want to take to the partner community,” said Rollings. NetSuite will build the core processes for a business around ERM, CRM and e-commerce and partners can build on those core capabilities in their own areas of expertise.

“Partners can productize an idea and make more money off it.”

NetSuite’s partner community in Canada is currently very Ontario-centric with about six resellers in the market said Marc Huffman, vice-president and general manager of NetSuite’s Canadian division. That’s something he hopes to change however with this new release.

Pointing to Western Canada as a target market for channel expansion, Huffman said there’s a lot of expertise in the Canadian channel around business processes but limited knowledge of the NetSuite platform.

“The assistants and some of the things we’re adding shift the focus from NetSuite expertise and puts it back on business process expertise,” said Huffman. “I think it will allow us to grow our channel presence in Western Canada and other areas where we need to beef it up a bit, and in the end provide real strong value to our mutual customers.”

One partner already finding success with the NetSuite platform is Ottawa-based EnabledSuccess Inc. Paul Doucet, EnabledSuccess’ president, said a NetSuite implementation isn’t just a platform implementation but also an opportunity to work with clients on process mapping and re-engineering.

“A lot of companies have been working on legacy systems and using legacy processes that are no longer relevant with a more efficient system,” said Doucet. “This system is built around industry best practices and allows them to have a discussion about their internal processes.”

A NetSuite partner since 2001, over time Doucet said NetSuite implementations have come to keep them busy enough to focus solely on the platform, expanding its staff from three to 12. Acceptance of NetSuite has also picked-up in Canada in the last 18 months, he said, adding the opportunity will be even greater with some of the tools in the 2007 release.

“Having the ability now to go and create a vertical that we can now call our own, brand it and sell it as our own is phenomenal,” said Doucet.

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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