NetSuite CEO on the changing state of CRM

"More and more, the machine is the CRM system. The machine is augmenting the customer relationship," argued NetSuite's chief.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

SAN JOSE---The "old definition" of CRM is completely wrong -- and has likely always missed the mark -- according to NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson.

"More and more, the machine is the CRM system," Nelson said. "The machine is augmenting the customer relationship."

Speaking during a press conference at SuiteWorld 2014 on Tuesday, Nelson addressed the changing state of CRM, starting by theorizing almost all omnichannel commerce, for example, integrates with NetSuite's platform for executing company data.

"The only way to get a single view of the customer is to have a single view of the customer," Nelson stressed, lamenting that omnichannel today offers at least three views, including those demonstrated via e-commerce and call center activity.

"You can't put Humpty Dumpty together again," Nelson quipped.

Andy Lloyd, general manager of commerce products at NetSuite, acknolwedged that it is "harder and harder to find when marketing ends and transactions begin." 

A company that can tie finanicial returns to marketing expenditures through a single system is going to have huge benefits resulting in customer retention, Lloyd posited.

Looking at the competition, Nelson had a few pointed comments against models demonstrated by SAP and Infor, among others, throughout the morning. Citing that there is no "native" version of Salesforce.com, Nelson further suggested it should be called the Salesforce Automation System.

"Don't get me started on this. I'll go all day," Nelson remarked on the state of CRM overall.

However, Nelson declined to pinpoint just one primary competitor, clarifying it depends on the customer, the vertical, and then the arm of the cloud in reference.

"It's a multi-headed beast we compete against," Nelson said. "Verticalization is the next battle."

Nelson clarified that NetSuite is focused on two verticals in particular: retailers and other software providers much like NetSuite itself.

When asked about the nature of its relationship with Oracle, Nelson replied that it hasn't changed much over the years, noting NetSuite is still a big customer of the Oracle Database. He also recalled last year's integration between Oracle's CRM products with NetSuite OneWorld. 

Earlier on Tuesday, NetSuite unveiled a host of upgrades as part of an overhaul to its user interface. 

There were a few additions in the mix as well, notably the services resource planning platform for product-based and services-based businesses alike as well as a new self-service B2B Customer Center to deliver transactional data to buyers and sellers.

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