NetSuite SuiteWorld: NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson Talks CRM Expansion
Keynotes highlight convergence of CRM, ERP, and e-commerce.
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When it comes to customers, omnichannel capabilities are not just a retail responsibility, NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson told a crowd of 6,500 attendees at this year's SuiteWorld user conference in San Jose, CA, in mid-May.

"Customers are coming at you from so many different channels, and the coupling of information about your customers applies to all of you," Nelson said in his opening keynote.

Nelson called for a new, broader definition of CRM that brings together e-commerce, social, and mobile capabilities and in which internal and external enterprise applications are colliding.

The next generation of CRM, he said, is "a merging of CRM and ERP systems."

Andy Lloyd, general manager of commerce products at NetSuite, said the expansion of CRM goes beyond just ERP systems. "Customer lifetime profitability requires a convergence of financials, accounting, marketing, and other systems," he said, adding that today's business executives can't live in technology silos, noting that "e-commerce, CRM, and ERP are all related."

All three systems, Lloyd said, "are about understanding who customers are, what they buy, and what they like. And the customer in the CRM system is the same one in the e-commerce system."

But while the message of the conference focused on the consolidation of CRM with other systems, it's not a new concept. "It's something NetSuite has been talking about all along," says Laurie McCabe, analyst at SMB Group.

So what's different now? Nelson said the message is finally starting to resonate with a broader base of clients.

McCabe agrees. "NetSuite's hard work is finally starting to pay off," she told CRM. "They tackled all the hard stuff—ERP and financials—first, and now are starting to build out their CRM products.

"Many companies are finally starting to recognize the value of an integrated suite of products. NetSuite is coming out strong. CRM is finally coming together within their packaged product," she adds.

To highlight that, NetSuite also used the conference to launch the B2B Customer Center, which it says will allow merchants and buyers to view order status, details, and history; track shipments; reorder goods; approve quotes; make payments; manage account information; request refunds and returns; and more. Also included is a self-service customer portal and unified customer experience management.

NetSuite Chief Technology Officer Evan Goldberg said the company has invested heavily in all of the products in its portfolio, giving its full range of CRM, e-commerce, and ERP products new user interfaces, streamlined workflows, and extensive customizations and personalization.

According to Goldberg, other innovations include a revamped version of NetSuite for the iPhone, with push notifications and phone call logging among the many enhancements. The company is working on versions of its mobile app for tablets and Android-based smartphones as well. Also on tap are greater data integrations, drag-and-drop functionality, advanced search, and a more visual interface.

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