NetSuite CTO: We're Cooking Up Lots Of New Tools, Features For ERP Customers

NetSuite engineers have been holed up in R&D labs, staying far away from the prying eyes of society as they work to develop new technology to help NetSuite's ERP customers do business more efficiently.

Now NetSuite is talking about its last batch of innovation. And to drive this point home, NetSuite cast CTO Evan Goldberg as Walter White, the maniacal methamphetamine kingpin and main character of the hit TV show "Breaking Bad," in a hilarious spoof video that aired at the outset of his keynote at the event Wednesday.

While the video made attendees laugh, it also contained a more serious message: Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) might not be the most dynamic category in the software industry, but NetSuite is revamping it in a variety of ways to make it more accessible in the age of mobile devices and always-on connectivity.

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NetSuite has overhauled the user interface for its cloud ERP software with modern fonts, getting rid of clutter and adding fixed navigational elements that let customers find what they're looking for faster.

"If you add up all the time you save there, it's like a month of your life," Goldberg said in the keynote, referring to the user interface improvements.

The new user interface, which will debut in a coming update in June, also is designed to work better on tablets. And this doesn't just mean iPads: Goldberg said NetSuite will run better on Android and Windows tablets as well.

Joey Skinner, senior product manager at Eide Bailly LLP, a Fargo, N.D.-based accounting firm and NetSuite partner, told CRN the simplicity of NetSuite's new interface is a major improvement.

"Only the necessary information is presented, until you need to go to a certain function, which then presents more options," Skinner said. "This reduces the clutter. Also, the main tasks are always on the screen so there is very little scrolling."

NetSuite is also working on an Android app for mobile users. Goldberg said it'll be available in "early 2015" and will contain features that are not available in NetSuite's iOS app, adding that this is being done "to annoy Apple."

However, some technology pundits in attendance wondered why it's taking so long for NetSuite to come out with an Android app:

Amazing that will only have an Android app in "early 2015". Mobile is a thing, even for enterprise, right?

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Goldberg said NetSuite also is stepping up its game in business intelligence, with a new feature that lets customers bring in data from outside of NetSuite and use it for analytics to improve business processes. For example, if data shows that salespeople are consistently losing deals at a late stage, they could invest in sales training to fix the problem, he said.

NetSuite has been working with business intelligence startup Birst on technology integration that will benefit NetSuite customers. Starting today, NetSuite customers have access to a free introductory version of Birst that lets executives look at business processes in NetSuite, analyze data, ask questions and see visualizations of the results.

Goldberg shared details on some multiyear projects NetSuite is currently working on, including its "omnichannel" vision, which recognizes that companies are interacting with customers through retail, mobile, call center and social, among other avenues. The goal here is to give NetSuite customers the tools they need to cover all these bases with their customers.

To make NetSuite more useful for customers around the world, Goldberg said the vendor is developing a series of new APIs. These include a tax API, shipping API and payment API, all of which will eventually be integrated into the NetSuite platform to account for international business conventions.