NetSuite automates as customers adapt to change
NetSuite co-founder Evan Goldberg held a NetSuite ‘On Air’ analyst briefing last week to unveil the cloud ERP developer’s latest product updates and discuss how customers have fared during the pandemic.
This year, the pandemic forced Oracle NetSuite to replace the usual Las Vegas razzmatazz and fireworks of SuiteWorld with a virtual ‘On Air’ event, but the Oracle subsidiary still had a slew of releases to announce.
One of NetSuite’s autumn highlights is its new cash management capabilities. The tools let finance leaders connect to thousands of financial institutions around the world and automatically import transactions and account balances directly into NetSuite – reducing reconciliation time by automatically matching bank data with transactions.
Bank feeds may be an exciting development for NetSuite and its customers, but is a facility that Xero and QuickBooks Online have offered for some time. It says something about the how the accounting software market is changing when corporate software developers start taking their lead from the small business sector.
Other more sophisticated areas where NetSuite will be delivering enhanced automation for finance and accounting professionals include:
- Accounts payable : Finance teams can automate entry of invoices, electronic payment processes, and schedule payment runs.
- Transactions and invoices: Finance teams can now automate invoice grouping, intercompany cross charges and the creation and posting of transactions.
- Budgeting: New tools to automate the budgeting process, with added capabilities for revenue and expense projections.
- Supply chain: Order fulfilment driven by user-defined critieria .
Payroll enhancements have been added to the SuitePeople HR module, enabling users to create role-based onboarding checklists amd manage deductions such as pension contributions.
The impact of the pandemic
Despite the slew of new functionality additions, Goldberg said the pandemic hasn’t “dramatically” changed NetSuite’s product roadmap. But he emphasised that “productivity is as good as ever” and “Zoom meetings are nothing new”.
But within NetSuite’s SuitePeople HR module, the company incorporated coronavirus test results within its case management record. Goldberg also highlighted the importance of performance tracking and employee engagement tools for managing people working remotely.
The pandemic changed how the users engage with the software, “It’s always been financials that get implemented first, but it’s the follow on things that have changed,” said Goldberg. “For those where commerce isn’t critical, the focus is the people, and getting a better handle of SuitePeople.”
During a question and answer session with analysts, Goldberg highlighted examples where customers made successful business pivots during the pandemic, such as companies producing protective equipment that switched to selling direct to the consumer.
He even namechecked video conferencing platform Zoom as a customer “using NetSuite to propel their growth”.
Closer to home, specialist food company Unisnacks, which supplies food and beverage products to major supermarkets like Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, credited SuiteSuccess in helping it operate a complex distribution network, manage inventory, and obtain a complete view of each part of the business”
Meanwhile, RSM UK has just announced that it has become the first European partner to join NetSuite’s business process optimisation (BPO) programme.
Dealing with the competitive landscape
With Sage, Advanced and Access all tussling for mid-market software investment, the landscape is getting competitive. But NetSuite doesn’t plan on diverging from their current offering.
“We believe our differentiation is the Suite – it’s all in one place… We’re doubling down on that,” said Goldberg. He added that for a company of its established stature, new capability is “measured in years, not months”.
Oracle and NetSuite alignment
Goldberg also hinted at some “convergence with [Oracle’s] Redwood design” where appropriate. Since Oracle’s $7bn acquisition of NetSuite users and analysts have naturally anticipated more alignment between the two, which looks to be more likely as the parent group rolls out its latest version.
Goldberg said he and his colleagues were “huge fans of the Redwood design” and said that they are in the process of retooling their own user experience. But he added that Oracle and NetSuite serve difference customers, and will tailor their applications to suit.
The NetSuite co-founder conceded that his “crystal ball has lost power”, but despite the pandemic gloom Goldberg is still optimistic for the future and the prospect of business transformation and formation.
“There are definitely businesses that are suffering and are not going to make it. But generally, you see a thousand flowers bloom.”