NetSuite’s annual shindig is just winding down now, and I wanted to put my thoughts together before they become stale. They are likely to be the only stale thing about the experience. I plan to either update this post with more specifics or (more likely) write another to cover them.
First, I have to confess a bit of failure on my part. I arrived at the show a day later than I’d planned, so I missed a lot of the opening news surge and had to catch up as best I could. It wasn’t quite good enough; I did my best posting the highlights of what I heard and saw, but I was always on the losing side. NetSuite is a company that engenders tremendous love among its partners and customers, so there’s always a lot to take in when they throw an event. This one was big enough that it was possible to miss a lot while staying busy, but not big enough that trends were easy to spot.
NetSuite remains one of the most vibrant ERP vendors in the world (more impressive than it sounds) and provides the operational and financial technology backbone for a large variety of companies. Despite the ERP focus, NetSuite continues to look and feel from the outside rather like a CRM vendor. To be fair, this is because it includes, overlaps with and ties into CRM by design, and in fact is a sensible choice for companies seeking a combined front- and back-
office system. The NetSuite environment is one that lets its users create a great customer experience.
Maybe it’s my personal and professional bias towards CRM and customer experience, but most of what I encountered here was that sort of thing. From the Bronto acquisition (email marketing for e-commerce) to the application updates to the keynotes, everything revolved around ways to improve the customer experience. I am obviously all for this, but it always strikes me as strange that an ERP company doesn’t try a little harder to focus its message for the back office. Maybe that’s confidence in the product, or maybe it’s a gap in the messaging. NetSuite is fairly successful, so it’s likely more the former than the latter.
Every so often, somebody asserts that CRM is dead. If that’s so (and it isn’t, at least not in the sense that those people mean), it’s because of companies like NetSuite and its competitors. They provide such a broad range of interlinked applications that it’s
sometimes hard to say where CRM ends and something else begins. This is OK for those of us industry watchers who say CRM is as much about attitude and strategy as it is about technology, and it’s easier for us to describe our expertise simply as enterprise software.