[IMGCAP(1)]Not to belittle the news of the week, the majority of which came from three ERP vendor conferences, but just a heads up I'm planning to focus mostly on the one I was able to attend -- NetSuite's SuiteWorld.
Look, in my position it's about choices and since there aren't three of me, attending SuiteWorld -- NetSuite's annual user and partner conference -- made the most sense on a few levels. For one, we've been covering the company since they were a small start-up called NetLedger and had the Oracle for Small Business Suite and they've held the attention of the accounting profession since then. Now, as they are expanding more into not only having a viable service offering for certain accounting firms, but becoming a clear, cloud ERP alternative for many consultants and resellers, it made a lot of sense to be at the conference to see what they were up to from a corporate and partner pespective.
I can say that in monitoring the news out SAP's SAPPHIRE, Epicor Insights, and SuiteWorld there was indeed a common theme -- mid-market businesses are increasingly wanting cloud ERP, however they can get it. And, by the way, if you can have enhancements that allow me, as a user, to dig deeper into financals -- say through a businesss intelligence componant -- or offer me as a reseller to specifially appeal to a given vertical(or industry, if you will) then I'm all ears. All three delivered(or promised, I should say) on all of those fronts this week.
On NetSuite in particular, I can say they have reached a point at which they are not being pat on the head anymore as the cloud company that could. No longer are they seen as "an interesting option." Now, their competitors -- who are, mind you, predominantly in the mid-market on premises world -- are seeing them as a real threat or, perhaps, even a motivator to try to do things their way or at least in a way that looks like their way. Make sense?
I don't want to get back into my "how do you want your cloud" arguement, but businesses are wanting it. Simple as. And, as such, their trusted advisors and product implementers want to be prepared to offer cloud.
The problem, from a partner perspective, is that offering cloud involves having customers that are ready for it and having staff that can handle the new product line and really sell it. In speaking with partners at SuiteWorld who signed on to the channel over the past year or so, it was a mixed bag of it being their strongest (if not only) product growth area to one they are needing help to get off the ground.
These varied scenarios don't point at anything the vendor is or is not doing as it appears the support is there, but in the cases where partners are struggling is that the either don't have customers ready to "pull the trigger" on cloud, or they don't have enough dedicated, experienced staff to sell it. All of this could happen through acquisition or by simply partnering with firms that are having success with cloud products -- for some, anyway. For others, it may be time to re-evaluate getting into trying to sell a cloud offering in the first place.
Sorry if this sounds like an over-simplification, but at the end of the day if you are getting product offerings and necessary upgrades and support from the vendor there's only one other place to look.
In short, getting back to SuiteWorld, there was a very positive vibe among the users and partners in attendance. I suppose that's a given these days at most cloud vendor events. They talk of promise for the future and say the right things to appeal to their attendees -- things they may not have heard for a long time, if ever, from traditional vendors.
For NetSuite, are they going upmarket? Absolutely. That doesn't mean there's not a bit of "S" left in their "SMB" focus, but it's more of the upside of "S". What this means is bigger deals for partners. And with more developer-friendly and industry-specific offerings, it's going to make partners that much happier. Where NetSuite still appears to need some work is in fund accounting, cost accounting and appeal to professional services -- particularly in the financial sector. Other than that, the nearly 5,000 attendees and professional feel of being in a real convention center over just a hotel showed even more promise. We'll continue to see if they deliver.
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