NetSuite Intensifies Its Focus on SMBs
Only a few weeks after the end of the multiyear marketing relationship that attached the Oracle brand name to NetSuite's small-business offering, the company has launched NetSuite Small Business (NSSB). An on-demand suite of CRM software for small business users, NSSB is essentially a relaunch of the application that had been known as the Oracle Small Business Suite.
NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson tells CRM
magazine that the newly rechristened application is the ASP's first step as it moves forward with broad plans to expand into smaller markets. Chief among these plans is the company's nascent attack on Intuit and its QuickBooks franchise, an effort NetSuite has dubbed Project Vampire.
After a period of moving upmarket to target midrange prospects, Nelson says that NetSuite is now "turning the guns back on small business." The move, he says, is in line with NetSuite founder Evan Goldberg's "vision of the company to begin with." (Goldberg and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison founded the company--then known as NetLedger--in 1998.)
Small businesses can host their company Web site on NSSB, Nelson says, underscoring what he sees as the three key CRM components of the application: contact management; a single view of each contact record, which is something Nelson says is critical for small businesses, where "anyone can be wearing many hats"; and e-CRM, which he sees as marketing campaigns and inbound selling via the Web, among other activities.
It's those e-CRM functions that Nelson believes will catapult NSSB past Intuit's QuickBooks, helped in part by several features added to this inaugural NSSB release that are traditionally thought of as being QuickBooks functionalities--check writing, invoicing, statements, among other accounting and back-office activities. "The back office is
the front office in CRM," he says.
Nelson also points out added features, most notably a new dashboard user-interface with key performance indicators for such elements as pipeline management, Web-site hits, and cart abandonment rates.
Despite the more than 1,000 QuickBooks customers that Nelson claims have already defected to NetSuite, even he acknowledges that getting all QuickBooks users to make the switch is going to be a hard sell. "No one wants to change applications because it's fun
," he says. "They have to have a growing need."
"I suspect they'll be successful to some degree," says Denis Pombriant, managing principal at Beagle Research Group. "But QuickBooks customers tend to be very small in [terms of] the number of users they have." NetSuite, he says, "is probably targeting the larger companies that use QuickBooks that have growing sales staffs, hoping they will decide to make a wholesale conversion."
Nelson says he looks at sales of NSSB as merely entry points in the evolution of long-term customers: The smaller application "allows you to grow into the full-size NetSuite product," he says, including an ease of data migration that is only possible when remaining within a single product line. Alternatively, he says, those users would "be able to make modular upgrades without upgrading to the full NetSuite application." At the moment, the only "module" available is one that allows for integration with UPS shipping software, but Nelson says others are on the way, including perhaps an offline client and advanced Web site customization.
Calling NetSuite's move "a smart thing to do," Pombriant also says it was, in some ways, to be expected. "NetSuite's focus has always
been that you can't have a 360 degree view of the customer without [integrating] the front and the back office."
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