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NetSuite Beefs Up Automation Business Apps

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Posted July 25, 2008 By Richard Adhikari     Feedback

Software upgrades are part of company's ambitious growth plan.

NetSuite (NYSE: N), which offers integrated business-management suites in software as a service (SaaS) form to small and medium-size businesses, has unveiled upgrades to its CRM+ customer relationship management CRM product and NS-BOS platform-as-a-service offerings. These product refreshes focus around customer service and marketing automation.

The AJAX-based CRM+ upgrades expand knowledge management, and customer service and support capabilities. The NS-BOS upgrades provide more support for JavaScript and the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) SOAP protocol. NetSuite has also announced support for the Firefox 3 browser.

NetSuite goes head to head with some of the biggest players in the fields it covers. On the CRM side, Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) and Oracle's Siebel CRM OnDemand are its main competitors.

NetSuite's product updates follow its June acquisition of automated professional services software provider OpenAir for $26 million. Observers say the software vendor is expanding its portfolio of enterprise services with these moves.

The company is constantly adding "good solid enterprise functionality," said Paul Greenberg, an analyst at the 56 Group and executive vice president of the National CRM Association.

For example, NetSuite added globalization functionality in June, which lets users handle multiple currencies and languages. This feature requires only a single dashboard, "so even if you had multiple offices in multiple countries using multiple currencies in multiple languages you'd have a single global view," Greenberg said.

"Even though they're in the SaaS space, they're probably closer to SAP than any other vendor," said Greenberg. "They resemble SAP, although they don't have supply-chain functionality like SAP does."

NetSuite, which is 54 percent owned by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and went public in December, has human resources and mobile capabilities, but isn't strong in either, according to Greenberg, who notes that the company is strong in financials, where it began, and in CRM.

The OpenAir purchase adds applications ranging from expense reports to workflow and resource management capabilities to NetSuite's products. "They still have a credible claim to being the only vendor in the space that has ERP and CRM and e-commerce built together from the ground up and offered on demand," said Denis Pombriant, an analyst at Beagle Research.

"I don't think anyone has more experience in a front and back office on-demand integrated suite than they do now," he added.

Mini Peiris, NetSuite's vice president of product marketing, said the company's offerings cover "all core business process, from the first touch on a Web site through CRM, customer service, order management and catalogs and financing, to ERP, to warehouse management, financial reporting and e-commerce."

NetSuite's NS-BOS is similar to Force.com but is aimed at encouraging "people who have vertical expertise or complementary products to be part of our system," Peiris said.

"It doesn't matter if you write an application for using our code, we've always been very standards-based and open, our API set is JavaScript based, and the integration points are still Web services." An API is an application programming interface.

The overall NetSuite product competes with ERP and e-commerce vendors. "You have to factor in SAP, Great Plains out of the Microsoft suite with its inventory management features, as well as pure-play e-commerce players such as DemandWare," she said. Established in 2004, DemandWare offers e-commerce on demand.

SAP's Business by Design product has "been quite helpful to us because they're pushing the SaaS Suite message, which we've been doing for five years now," Peiris said. "We can deliver products now whereas their timeline is 12 to 18 months away." Business By Design is an on-demand enterprise project delivered in SaaS form, and is ramping up with its first wave of customers.

Adapted from Internetnews.com.

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