NetSuite Focuses on Ease, Analytics and Money

By Dan Muse | Posted June 21, 2007

Hosted business application provider NetSuite has begun rolling out a major update to its suite of services, which include ERP, CRM and e-commerce applications. The version carries the new — and somewhat unwieldy — name of NetSuite 2007.0 and will be available to customers beginning today with all customers upgraded by August.

"We're now committed to one major upgrade a year as opposed to several during the course of the year. We have hundreds of new features, but there are three main parts," NetSuite's Vice President of Product Management Mini Peiris.

Peiris said Netsuite decided on one major upgrade because customers said they didn't like adapting to changes made throughout the year. The focus of the version, according to Peiris, is on easy-to-use ERP enhancements, multicurrency functionality and business intelligence.

Peiris said NetSuite's goal continues to be to offer Web-based integrated applications that offer powerful features without adding the complexity and expense associated with traditional ERP applications. Peiris pointed specifically to SAP applications as an example of costly and difficult to deploy server-based software.

A Little Help
NetSuite Assistants are designed to make set up, importing data and performing ongoing administration simpler, said Peiris. For example, assistants are included for complex ERP areas such as multi-dimensional product configuration and transactional form layout. "ERP systems like SAP are notoriously difficult and cumbersome to use," Peiris said. "NetSuite Assistants free business users such as warehouse managers and e-commerce site managers to control their own areas of operations."

Specific components of NetSuite Assistant include Setup Assistant, Data Import Assistant, Graphical and Transaction Form Assistant, Matrix Item Assistant, and Ecommerce Setup and Site Content Assistants.

The Language of Money
To improve CRM and product relationship management capabilities, NetSuite 2007.0 is designed to simplify the tasks of order processing, forecasts, quotas and commissions, which can now be managed on a per-country basis in local currency.

NetSuite Global CRM is designed to allow individual offices or subsidiaries to manage orders, make forecasts and sell in their local currency, while the main office's measurement are converted into the local currency to provide consolidated sales data on orders, forecast, quota and commission.

Peiris said no setup is required to reach this level of visibility at either the local sales rep level or main office level because NetSuite Global CRM comes with prebuilt dashboards that handle the multi-currency conversion.

Searching for Intelligence
While SMBs may not call it "business intelligence," Peiris said, companies rely on key information to build their operations. To help present that data, NetSuite now includes SuiteAnalytics. The analytics capabilities are designed eliminate the need to add third-party data warehousing tools to gain insight into business data.

Performance Scorecards are designed to provide Excel-like formulas for at-a-glance analysis of key business indicators. The scorecards can be built from the ground-up to fit a particular industry or personalized business need and you can also use a range of formula operators as their basis, ranging from simple mathematical calculations to complex analysis, according to Peiris.

The Financial Ratios Scorecard includes metrics that are built using embedded formulas against NetSuite data providing insight into key business drivers such as Days Sales Outstanding, Asset Turnover, Profit Margin on Sales and Debt to Equity ratios.

New NetSuite Dashboards feature Key Performance Indicators, Trend Graphs, graphical Report Snapshots and KPI Meters can drive individual productivity by providing every person in the company with the real-time intelligence they need to make day-to-day decisions smarter and faster.

Standard Reports, Custom Built Reports, and point-and-click Search-as-Analysis tools are designed to give defined focus areas as well as tactical decision support on a periodic or as-needed basis. NetSuite's wizard-driven, graphical Report Builder is designed to make it easier to create and manipulate reports to meet specific business requirements.

For more complex business planning, ODBC connectivity is designed to let you link to business intelligence packages such as Business Objects or Cognos. The advantage, Peiris said, is that a third-party Business Intelligence package is drawing data from NetSuite's repository for consolidated analytics.

SuiteAnalytics features will be available with NetSuite 2007.0 in the standard NetSuite service. However, ODBC connectivity to third-party business intelligence packages has an additional flat fee of $399 per month.

NetSuite 2007.0 is available in the standard NetSuite service, with no additional charge and rolls out to customers from now to August 2007. NetSuite starts at $499 per month and $99 for each user per month.

Dan Muse is executive editor of internet.com's Small Business Channel, EarthWeb's Networking Channel and ServerWatch.

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