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NetSuite launches AP automation at 2022 SuiteWorld event
Evan Goldberg_SuiteWorld_AW

Oracle NetSuite rolls out proactive automation

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After a three-year hiatus, cloud business software pioneer Oracle NetSuite summoned its disciples to Las Vegas to showcase this year’s product enhancements.

28th Sep 2022
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The new functionality and modules unveiled at the first SuiteWorld event since 2019 spanned from financial processes to production and distribution optimisation tools, sales automation and employee engagement.

The SuiteBanking menu includes a new accounts payable (AP) automation module, which uses optical character recognition and machine learning to extract supplier names, PO numbers, order line items, quantities and pricing from incoming invoices. The app is able to pre-populate a bill record within NetSuite based on previous entries. A side-by-side view of the actual bill is also available to for review.

The integration goes a step further with an embedded banking option for users with HSBC accounts. The hook-up is designed to let customers manage payments and automate reconciliations without having to change screens.

The banking and AP enhancements were hailed by Oracle NetSuite executives in Las Vegas for being the first embedded tools of this kind within an enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite. Yet these capabilities have already flourished among accountants in Europe using the likes of Xero, QuickBooks Online, Dext, AutoEntry, Countingup, Modulr and a host of other third-party transaction capture and fintech apps.

The banking side of the module was driven mainly by American customer needs. We await news from Oracle NetSuite of its strategy to extend similar functionality to open banking APIs that would greatly broaden its reach among international customers.

Helping accountants to grow beans

Introducing the new capabilities, Oracle NetSuite vice president of product management Paul Farrell presented an argument that the latest generation of business software is increasingly about creating a user experience that addresses their key business challenges rather than specific features and functionality.

So embedded AP automation and banking formed part of the company’s drive to optimise cash and profits for users. “We focus on helping customers to drive efficiency by automating vital and complex accounting tasks to give them more time for value added tasks [so] they can spend more time growing the beans than counting them,” he said.

“We deliver those types of features, but help grow beans as well.”

Farrell also highlighted NetSuite’s enhanced Planning and Budgeting module as a proactive finance solution that fitted the company’s mission to “drive revenue and make you more effective with customers”.

The developer added new industry-specific planning and budgeting models and a version builder to capture a range of budget forecasts, plus associated comparison tools.

“I think it’s very difficult now to do a yearly or quarterly plan with things like interest rates changing on a regular basis.  The things we’re investing in give customers flexibility in how they react,” said Farrell.

Day-one highlights

Other finance highlights from day one of SuiteWorld include:

  • New models within the NetSuite Analytics Warehouse to assess time and revenue areas such as commissions and work in progress, plus role-specific dashboards designed for professional services environments, retail, spend analysis, and sales and customer growth.
  • Intercompany netting to automate the processes around transactions between linked companies – a useful aid to the majority of Oracle NetSuite customers that run multiple international companies, according to Farrell.
  • A revamped Rebates and Trade Promotions routine, which handles admin around trade discounts and offers. “It makes sure you’re always offering the customer the optimum price, which is vital in this competitive world… In the world of wholesale distribution, this process can be the difference between a thriving wholesale company and one that does not.”

Customer engagement

A very similar approach to dynamic pricing showed up among the Customer Acquisition product announcements. Based on code from independent NetSuite developer Verenia, which Oracle acquired in January, the Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) app now operates within the NetSuite product, where it links to CRM and ecommerce pricing, inventory and profitability data. It can also take advantage of workflows within the parent program.

In his keynote SuiteWorld suite, executive vice president and NetSuite co-founder Evan Goldberg showed how the new CPQ module can automatically work out pricing, including discounts, promotions and so on for a fictional company Wyra. “It can turn the quote into a proposal and on approval, that quote becomes a sales order,” he said. “And it used validation rules to ensure it’s a correct configuration. A bill of materials is automatically created and it links to other NetSuite manufacturing modules to handle things like work in progress and work order assembly.

“And of course it all gets reported in the financials,” said Goldberg.

By guiding customers towards the most suitable options and capturing that information first time, the software can reduce expensive changes or product returns further down the line. Meanwhile, dynamic pricing can show how price levels affect profitability.

With the exception of machine learning data capture and bank rec tools that have been around for many years, these are the kind of high-end enhancements you’d expect from an enterprise software company.

The new features are being fuelled by demand from fast-growing, international businesses that are looking for automation software that will help them accelerate growth, reduce costs and improve efficiency, NetSuite senior vice president Nicky Tozer said in a European press briefing. In the past year, Oracle NetSuite picked up 5,000 new customers to reach 32,000 worldwide and grew 27% for the past two quarters, she added.

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