Much of the talk at NetSuite's annual conference SuiteWorld has been of new parent company Oracle's plans for the firm's global expansion, but the world's largest cloud ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) vendor also unveiled a host of new products and features.
Flames were thrown from vertical torches to herald the key launches of a human resources (HR) service called SuitePeople and a holistic cloud system for cloud adoption called SuiteSuccess, which NetSuite executive vice president Jim McGeever claimed is "the world's first unified industry cloud solution."
"It is the most important initiative that we've had in many years," he said, adding that it reimagines the way in which the company delivers its cloud services and that its customers use them in a pre-packaged configuration designed to ease the implementation process.
NetSuite claims that SuiteSuccess customers can go live 60 percent faster than before, that the average page load time is 66 percent faster and that implementation costs are 18 percent less.
SuiteSuccess provides a new way for NetSuite to deliver its services that meets the specific needs of individual industries in a unified approach built on leading sector practices, according to the company.
NetSuite plans to regularly release new editions for different industries, and has already delivered them for eight: advertising and publishing, financial technology, manufacturing, non-profit, retail, service-based businesses, software/internet and wholesale distribution. Each industry offering is built for those specific market needs.
"We have a whole sales team dedicated in the US to going after university campus book stores," said McGeever. "It's not a market where we expect to get five or 10 percent. We expect to get every one of those. And you will see us get that again and again."
The package begins at pre-sales and moves onto live running and continuous optimisation, a service NetSuite calls "the stairway to heaven".
"For most companies the most common implementation is steps one and two: you pay for the subscription for those components and you pay for the implementation," said McGeever. "If you go onto step three, which may be you're adding B2C commerce, you'll pay incremental subscription and incremental services."
NetSuite's second big announcement was described as completing the company's suite of services.
"We always had the vision of the suite, but there was always something that was missing," said McGeever. "I'm extremely happy to announce that we have completed the final piece of the pie. We are announcing the launch of SuitePeople: the world's most unified and flexible human resources system ever built."
The product covers all HR processes, such as managing annual leave, new hires and purchase orders and will be on general release from 1 June.
Organisational browsers display the company hierarchy in an interactive chart that allows users to review individual staff profiles and reporting lines. There are separate tabs for employees and managers and the level of access to features and safeguards are available to protect sensitive data.
Employers can search for staff members by location and department and "Give Kudos" to publicly recognise performance with badges for specific areas of achievement.
Requests for time off are sent to managers and automatically flow into time sheets. It also enables resource allocation to cover for absences, and can review performance and schedule pay rises that are then submitted to HR representative for approval. HR analytics provide detailed insights across pre-built reports and dashboards to understand any issues such as high turnover of staff.
SuitePeople also includes tailored regulatory compliance features, automated tax calculation and reporting in more than 100 countries and customer transactions in over 200. It is natively built on the NetSuite cloud suite to add all the HR processes to a single ERP platform.
"You cannot buy SuitePeople without buying the rest of NetSuite," said McGeever. "It doesn't work."
NetSuite has also released a wide selection of new features for its existing products. The next generation of SuiteAnalytics adds increased data visualisation to help companies boost sales. Data can be sliced, for example, to identify operational expenses in individual regions across a variety of tables, charts and maps.
They can be studied over time and compared to specific costs such as base salaries and overtime in specific departments. That could be sliced to reveal that call centres have become an excessive cost, due to a problem with an individual product that can then be resolved.
"Now we can build that all together into a sort of storyboard that you can deliver to your board,” said executive vice president of development and NetSuite co-founder Evan Goldberg, after riding onto the stage on an electric scooter. "As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand sales."
Ecommerce offerings include a new SuiteCommerce Standard for retail customers that supports a quick webstore launch and a lower ownership cost for customers who don't need the depth of features available on SuiteCommerce Advanced. It will be available on general release next year.
Retail companies can also now use a new omnichannel marketing platform to create and manage marketing called Suite Promotions, and a new process for their customers to collect items that blends physical and digital stores. Features added to billing and revenue recognition system SuiteBilling include price books to track product prices and services.
Other enhancements include additional automation of transactions across multiple companies and countries, a new accounting functionality to help meet global compliance and accounting requirements, and an advanced revenue management tool to automate financial processes.