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Oracle's NetSuite tests automation, warehouse management waters

Analyst says challenges remain in attracting partners to roll out products

Oracle's NetSuite has kicked off its Las Vegas conference with a smorgasbord of news aimed at accounts payable, warehouse management, and people management.

While the cloud accountancy and HR software firm has made good progress since 2016, when Oracle launched its $9.3 billion takeover, the company still struggles to reach the market via a strong partner network, and has challenges internationalizing its products quickly enough.

Among the announcements is NetSuite AP Automation, technology which claims to make it easier for companies to pay their bills, sometimes accruing discounts from their suppliers.

On the sell side, NetSuite CPQ is designed to help sales teams to configure, price, and quote (CPQ) complex products accurately inside the application. Ship Central is a solution intended to help customers optimize fulfillment operations within physical distribution warehouses.

NetSuite wants to help organizations improve "employee engagement" by simplifying and automating routine tasks such as shift scheduling, employee time tracking, and calculating wages with the product NetSuite SuitePeople Workforce Management. Lastly, NetSuite Analytics Warehouse aims to help speed up BI and data insight with "pre-built third-party data integrations and industry-specific content."

These are just a few of the new features and products NetSuite announced at its SuiteWorld conference and Expo in the Nevada gambling mecca.

In a media briefing ahead of the conference, Paul Farrell, veep of industry product management for Oracle NetSuite, said the new product would help customers improve their "value streams" by optimizing cash flow and profits, improving delivery of products and services, and "empowering" employees.

"If we look at optimize cash and profits, this is predominantly financials and we've focused on helping customers drive efficiencies by automating vital and in many times complex accounting tasks, giving them more time to focus on value added tasks. It allows accountants to spend more time growing the beans rather than counting them," Farrell said.

In an email to The Register, Chris Pang, a Gartner research director, said NetSuite had "significantly scaled in customer numbers and revenue" since the Oracle acquisition.

"While the company is certainly bigger and the product breadth wider, the focus on mainly mid-sized organizations has remained firm which has helped to keep the focus on executing. Much of NetSuite's identity and exec team from before the acquisition remain to the present day."

NetSuite technology has benefited from using Oracle's Cloud Infrastructure versus third-party datacenters and its own datacenter, bringing cost and performance efficiencies, he said.

But NetSuite struggled to expand the number of closely aligned sales and implementation partners. "The challenge is recruiting and attracting more partners in geographies outside of the main places it currently operates," Pang said. "Partner capacity is finite so it means attracting partners who may already be carrying another vendor's product and persuading them to switch allegiance which is hard when breaking into new markets."

Meanwhile, the increased adoption of NetSuite has been constrained by its ability to introduce new modules outside of the US and select countries, he added. ®

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