• December 9, 2003
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

NetSuite Breaks Customization Barriers

In response to last summer's Saleforce.com sforce announcement promising customization of hosted applications, NetSuite (formerly NetLedger) followed suit yesterday, making customization capabilities available in a hosted environment. Customization has long been one of the biggest customer concerns regarding hosted applications, with skeptics claiming that ASP solutions are too generic, or have too much of a one-size-fits-all approach to CRM. Giving the control of the application to NetSuite, or any ASP, enables the ASP to provide all its customers a low-cost CRM solution that can be seamlessly upgraded at the push of a button. However, this also means giving up control of the application at the customer level, and as a result, NetSuite customers are limited in their customization efforts--until now. NetSuite is taking a slightly different approach to customization than Salesforce.com by requiring code changes to be done inside the NetSuite application using JavaScript. This makes the NetSuite platform and code changes platform agnostic, company representatives say. As a result, the customization capabilities are "as powerful as traditional software applications, which will carry forward with each additional upgrade," says Brian Taylor, product manager for customization at NetSuite. Driving NetSuite's customization technology are NetSuite Custom Records and NetSuite Custom Code. NetSuite Custom Records enables companies to manage one-to-many and one-to-one data models for complex data relationships unique to each business. For example, companies can send out defect notifications and track the responses from each customer in a one-to-many manner. Additionally, companies may gather customer survey data from the Web and then link the responses to each customer record in a one-to-one manner. Using industry standard JavaScript, NetSuite Custom Code creates user-defined business logic that is industry and process specific. So, for example, companies can add warnings and validations when making data entries, such as prompting sales people for phone number validations when entering new contact information into the database, or questioning an unusually high order request. "Our customers and value added-reseller partners are excited about it and want to learn about it and deploy it themselves," says Sean Rollings, senior director of product marketing at NetSuite. Dean Mitchell, partner at Projector Doctor, a projector repair company in San Diego, has used NetSuite's Custom Records to create inspection records that have 30 different tests to evaluate quality control processes for projectors before they are shipped back to customers. Previously, Projector Doctor had recorded these evaluations on paper. "[Custom Records] helps us get a better handle on our quality control," Mitchell, says. "We found it easier to go back and look at the history of previous repairs, so technicians can use that to do a better product evaluation." NetSuite's VAR partners stand to benefit from the product's account cloning capabilities, which enable VARs to customize industry solutions, have them cloned by NetSuite, and delivered to multiple customers in a specific industry. "This gives VARs a faster way to provide a template for multiple customers, enabling VARs to customize one and sell all," Rollings says.
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