I spent almost the whole of last week meeting customers in the UK who use SaaS solutions. It was highly educational and in some cases inspirational. Among those I met, Peter Campbell, CFO Mimecast provided extraordinary insights into how his company's NetSuite implementation has delivered value many times over. I was concentrating upon the finance department aspects but benefits go way beyond simplifying the number crunching.
Among other things, he said that his company has been able to grow from 14 people to 250 without requiring an increase in IT headcount. Early on, the company decided that it would customize NetSuite for its own purposes 'because they can.' The company also took the decision to employ a person dedicated to running and adapting NetSuite. Key takeaways from the conversation:
- The company was able to run with one IT person despite massive growth. They now employ three people running NetSuite and continue to expand its capabilities.
- There were few problems in customizing the system which the company was able to do with minimal help from NetSuite.
- The operational cost of running NetSuite continues to fall while ROI rises.
- Providing local assurance for data protection issues has not been a problem.
Do these points amount to transformational benefit of the kind Phil Wainewright would recognize? I think so because the company has managed to effortlessly expand into new territories while maintaining a standardized system.
The message to other vendors is clear: provide complete suites of functionality in a way that protects the business from complexity but which allows for customization and you are delivering differentiated value.
As a side note, the Mimecast example tells a story that I heard repeated time and again in meeting with a total of 13 customers, all the way through from mom and pop shops to this size of business and from a wide variety of business types. The next test will be to see if the benefits now being exposed scale further up the business food chain.
For those that prefer a different form of consumption, here is the audio only version.
Disclosure: NetSuite sponsors my personal website.