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NetSuite Goes Vertical
The on-demand provider releases upgrades to two vertical editions, as software-as-a-service vendors take "a more focused approach," according to one industry analyst.
Posted Sep 13, 2007
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Continuing to narrowly target its offerings to companies of a particular size and in particular industries, NetSuite today released updates of its vertical-specific editions for services companies and for wholesalers/distributors. According to the company, each update, tailored for midmarket companies, modifies for its respective vertical the out-of-box capabilities of the NetSuite 2007.0 edition -- the 12th generation of the NetSuite application suite, released in June. Both updates are immediately available and are priced at $999 per month for the base suite, plus $99 per user per month.

NetSuite Services Company Edition Version 2007 adds aspects of project management focused on project lifecycle, making it easier for consulting and professional services firms to manage clients, projects, billing, and cost allocation via beefed-up project tracking and time-budgeted functionality, enhanced backlog tracking and reporting capabilities, and improved workforce optimization functionality, the company says. The Services Company Edition also includes new reporting and forecasting capabilities, as well as role-based dashboards to allow managers to allot project revenues, determine cost allocations across projects, and track time and expense workflows and routing.

The Wholesale/Distribution Edition provides tighter front-office/back-office integration between NetSuite's CRM and ERP modules, tying lead generation and sales orders to warehouse and inventory management in multiple locations. Looking to address the challenges facing SMB-sized distributors, NetSuite has added enhancements around order management and warehouse operations and fulfillment, such as 'on-hold' stock locations for items like damaged goods and 'available inventory' locations to allow warranty departments to process customer returns faster, says Mini Peiris, vice president of product management at NetSuite. The vendor also added Canadian shipment support for FedEx. Customers can now track FedEx shipments within NetSuite that originate within Canada; previous editions only tracked packages shipped from the U.S.

While both versions leverage industry best practices, Peiris stresses that both are open to further customization via SuiteFlex. The new customizable inventory-and-fulfillment processes built into the Wholesale/Distribution edition, for example, allow a manager to tie a business' particular workflows around inventory management and accounting into NetSuite, Peiris says, adding that NetSuite's efforts are designed to met users halfway: "We provided customers with as many of the tools and functions as we could, but there's only so much," she says. "The rest we've left open to the customer."

Both releases are representative of the more "focused approach on-demand providers are taking," says Sanjeev Aggarwal, vice president for SMB infrastructure solutions at industry research firm AMI-Partners. "On-demand has matured and has become mainstream. Vendors like NetSuite and Salesforce.com are looking to bring the vertical expertise to their product offerings so SMBs don't have to make the customizations themselves."


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