May 8, 2013
Next week sees me continue my US sojourn with stops at NetSuite‘s annual event SuiteWorld and the much-heralded Google developer event, GoogleIO. I’m going to write a compendium post about what I expect to see at these two very different events. Quick disclosure first – as is customary, Google and NetSuite are covering my T&E to attend the events.
I’m now a veteran SuiteWorld attendee having previously enjoyed a number of times the amazing job that NetSuite SVP Mei Li does of looking after the analysts that attend the event. NetSuite is an amazing company that has done a fantastic job of morphing from its roots as a SMB vendor and rapidly moving up the food chain to be a credible ERP offering. It has to be said however that NetSuite is a little constrained on a couple of fronts:
- Firstly by its own habit of pouring scorn on its larger competitors (SAP and Microsoft Dynamics) while completely ignoring the elephant in the room in the way of Oracle. Of course the NetSuite share register shows why this is the case, Oracle boss Larry Ellison is also the largest NetSuite shareholder but, still, NetSuite’s criticisms of its competitors would ring truer if this situation was resolved
- When compared to its cloud competitors, most notable Salesforce but others as well, NetSuite is a little slow to jump on the social bandwagon. Of course some of this is because NetSuite sells to the CFO, someone generally less inclined to “get” the social message. It’s easy for Salesforce selling primarily as they do to the sales and marketing parts of the business but still, a more compelling proposition about how NetSuite enables its customers to compete in the new more connected and collaborative world would be welcome
That said, even without lots of cool social enterprise cred, NetSuite is executing well. They’ve built strong vertical solutions in both retail and professional services – some smart acquisitions have helped with this an in my conversations with NetSuite customers – this value proposition of tying together the back office and the front office is one which resonates and really drives efficiencies for customers.
Last year at SuiteWorld CEO Zach Nelson announced SuiteCommerce, an elegant and compelling offering that strongly tied the back office EP functionality to an end-to-end retail offering that covered e-commerce including the customer facing aspects. The company has been a little quiet about the rollout and success of that initiative so I’d be hoping to hear much more on that front.
NetSuite also recently announced a vertical offering for the wine industry – I’ve long said that strong verticals are where NetSuite’s future lies and I’m looking for some more progress with this – NetSuite has some strong vertical success but I’d like to see it productize those vertical offerings a little more to give some clarity around where it is aiming.
Finally the perennial question remains as to when Larry Ellison will swoop in and buy the part of NetSuite he doesn’t already own. Much of the timing of this rests on NetSuite’s strategy to push two tier ERP as a strong solution for larger enterprises – the idea that individual business units will use NetSuite but roll up the various units into a bigger system for consolidation is one which makes sense – last year we saw a few of these stories being told and it seems to me that once the company starts seeing some real momentum around this strategy – that will be the moment that Ellison swoops in.
SuiteWorld is always a fun few days – this year will see it out grow the usual San Francisco hotel venues and head down to the Valley – I’m looking forward to speaking to customers and having a conversation with the always thoughtful and well informed Zach Nelson.
Ah Google. I’ve attended IO once before but unfortunately missed it last year and had to watch the spectacle on the livestream. And what a spectacle it was seeing skydivers jump out of a blimp above the Moscone center and record their journey through Google Glass. Actually I was a little disappointed that Google had succumbed to the temptation to create a high impact, but generally meaningless stunt. Google is better than that and I’d have much rather seen a more measured, thoughtful and forward looking first outing for Glass.
Of course given the marketing wet dream that Google had when Robert Scoble recently declared glass to be the biggest thing since the transistor, it would seem that Glass is front and center in terms of what part of the Google empire will get the most airplay at IO. This is a little disappointing and, frankly, a little bit shortsighted for the company.
As Google begins to push it’s Amazon Web Services competitor, Google Compute Engine, as a credible public cloud alternative, it starts to beg a number of questions about just how ready for, and committed to the enterprise Google actually is. The recent decision to scuttle Google reader, an admittedly less than overwhelming success of a product, along with the seeming lack of focus on Google Apps that the company has does little to reduce the concerns about their eventual intentions.
It seems to me that Google is a company torn between exciting, attention grabbing and generally consumer faced business units and the less exciting, but very important enterprise products. What I’d like to see at IO is significant attention given to Google Apps, Google App Engine and the Google Compute Engine. What I expect to see is lots of hand waving about Android, Glass and self-driving cars.