Can NetSuite successfully move up market?

NetSuite's announcement of Qualcomm as a customer signals a move upmarket. But can it service those customers successfully?
Written by Dennis Howlett, Contributor

Day one of SuiteWorld and as predicted, NetSuite announced Qualcomm as a new customer. Larry Dignana makes the point:

As far as large enterprise buyers go, Qualcomm will be the one to watch for evaluating NetSuite. Accenture is doing Qualcomm’s NetSuite installation.

Implementation is one thing, but with large customers come large challenges. During the executive Q&A, Evan Goldberg, co-founder and CTO NetSuite demonstrated how business analysts can create new workflows that can support subprocesses and email notifications using SuiteFlow. As a version 1.5 workflow solution, it is a credible configuration tool that will suit mid-sized businesses with tech savvy business analysts. However, large customers often want to customise - i.e. get to the code.

Talking this through, Goldberg made the point that times have changed and the need to get to code is much reduced with the new classes of tool that are available. Zach Nelson, CEO of NetSuite said that in around two years, the company expects its own developers to develop off the tools customers use today rather than natively in Java. "We'll still have to move some things to Java code but it will be a fraction of what we're doing today.

The question remains - will NetSuite's core code and tools mature to the point where large companies feel comfortable working in that way rather than writing code? I'm not sure. Goldberg made the point that when you're a small company then product returns may not require development of a specific module but large companies would need that functionality as a native part of the solution.

NetSuite has always been ambitious and should be congratulated for its ability to move upmarket over the last couple of years. However, the kind of customer it is planning to engage exhibits a level of complexity that is an order of magnitude above that which they are used to managing. As Goldberg says: "We'll see how well we do."

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