SuiteWorld Day 1: NetSuite Announces Deal with Microsoft, SuiteCommerce InStore

SAN JOSE, Calif. — "My belief is that omnichannel is every business's problem," Zach Nelson, CEO of NetSuite, stated in his opening keynote yesterday at day one of SuiteWorld, the company's annual user and partner conference here.

As at last year's conference, creating a seamless customer experience has been the dominant concern for the vendor this year. "Whether it's the front ends [or] the infrastructure, we are the market leaders in [omnichannel experience management]," Nelson said. "In fact, watch what the other [vendors] do—they do what we do two years after we do it. This is how far ahead we are in this space," he told the audience.

The company made a number of announcements to support that assertion. One of these was a new product, SuiteCommerce InStore, which will build on the company's SuiteCommerce platform with aims to help businesses better account for the gaps between on- and offline customer experiences.  The product will aggregate customer records and buying history and put them more readily into the store associate’s hands through linear views of customers' previous interactions with a company.  "It's the exact same platform that you use to deliver online experiences, the exact same platform you'll use to deliver in store experiences," Nelson said. "This is the holy grail of in-store, online. Talk about a unified experience—it is by definition a unified experience."

Nelson also discussed plans for expansion by way of partnerships. Following on the heels of its recent acquisition of Bronto, a company that will allow NetSuite to make headway in unifying marketing and commerce, a number of other new relationships were disclosed. "We've come a long way on the partnership front," Nelson said. He laid out the details of an alliance with Microsoft, which will allow NetSuite to make use of the company's Azure platform, as well as to integrate the Office 365 suite into its own platform. 

 "Our strategic cloud partnership will connect NetSuite's cloud ERP to Microsoft's office and Azure platforms, opening the doors of front and back office," Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, said in a video recording that played during the keynote. "The integration between NetSuite and Office 365 will bring together ERP and productivity in the cloud to transform how people work."

NetSuite will also extend to subscribers some of the strengths of its new customers' offerings. Through its relationship with American Express Global Business Travel, NetSuite will give customers travel-booking capabilities. Likewise, the company will leverage its connections to Qlik, a provider of business intelligence and data visualization software.

At a press conference following his morning presentation, Nelson elaborated further on the nature of the partnerships. "We acquire other companies for domain expertise, rarely for the product," Nelson asserted in response to a reporter's mention of competitors' accusations that the company patches together solutions from vendors to create a stodgy, "Frankenstein" cloud solution.

Nelson pointed out that in the past, NetSuite has made a conscious effort to bake capabilities from their acquisitions into their platform. For instance, OpenAir, which NetSuite acquired in 2008, is now native in NetSuite. "All of that functionality, totally native, totally rewritten," Nelson said. Likewise, he mentioned that Element Fusion, a content management system, was also rewritten and is now native in the application. "What we do when we acquire these companies is we smartly rewrite the code to be native in NetSuite," Nelson said.

"When you buy NetSuite, you get one system, one database, nothing is stitched together," added Evan Goldberg, chairman and chief technology officer at NetSuite.

And Andy Lloyd, general manager of commerce products at NetSuite, emphasized a similar point in his afternoon keynote. "You need to run your whole business from a single system," he stated.

Though the company has a reputation for serving midsize companies, it has been making strides to cater to larger outfits. "We've been moving upmarket ever since we've gone public," Nelson said.

Chief Marketing Officer Fred Studer gave a group of analysts and members of the press an idea of what the company's "massive growth strategy" is going to look like in the coming years. The company currently employs 3,800, and plans to grow that number to 5,800 in the coming year. "We can't hire enough people," Studer said, hinting at expansions and parnerships to come in Europe and Asia.

Likewise, Studer mentioned plans to adjust the current subscription-based model to fit the needs of each of their customers, as the company grows in size.  

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