Channel Chief Craig West On Four Ways NetSuite Is Investing In Partners

NetSuite Channel Chief Craig West talks to CRN about the cloud pioneer’s channel evolution, and where it is putting its dollars to further enable partners delivering diverse business solutions.

NetSuite Channel Evolution And Investment

NetSuite, a subsidiary of Oracle since 2016, has built a massive customer base of small and midsize businesses across industries and geographies by aggressively leveraging the expertise of its channel.

In the two decades since the company helped pioneer cloud-based software, that channel has diversified far beyond traditional ERP resellers—it now encompasses global and regional systems integrators, business process consultancies, and cloud implementation specialists of all stripes.

NetSuite Channel Chief Craig West spoke to CRN about that continual channel evolution, and where the business software leader will ramp investments to further enable partner practices.

Among changes to NetSuite’s channel is a new partner program geared for digital agencies and e-commerce consultancies that look to take advantage of a portfolio that has expanded well beyond traditional ERP solutions.

NetSuite is also focused on helping partners extend its products to meet the needs of niche industries, better supporting business process outsourcers and expanding its popular SuiteLife enablement program.

Here are four areas where NetSuite is ramping up investments for partners.

Non-ERP Partners

NetSuite is best known for its ERP offerings, but the Oracle subsidiary is seeing more and more cutting-edge consultancies with no ERP practices looking to partner.

For those companies often servicing retail, direct-to-consumer and digital brand customers, NetSuite has introduced the Associate Solution Provider Program.

“It’s about bringing a new set of partners to the NetSuite table,” West said. “Historically, a NetSuite partner is very ERP-focused. Foundationally, you had to do ERP and we were really recruiting and enabling ERP practices.”

But in recent years, digital agencies and e-commerce consultancies have increasingly gravitated to NetSuite to leverage products like the OpenAir project management offering acquired in 2008, Bronto email marketing acquired in 2015 and home-grown SuiteCommerce e-commerce platform.

Through the new program, Associate Solution Providers will also be connected to the wider NetSuite ecosystem and gain access to training that could help them develop ERP practices if they choose to go that route.

Microvertical Building Partners

Often the only barrier to NetSuite partners closing a deal is a few capabilities not offered out of the box that meet the particular demands of a niche industry.

“Another trend we’re seeing is partners looking to customize the solution to specific industries, sometimes just adding one or two features,” West said.

Partners have been building such add-ons to support micro-breweries, automobile dealerships and law firms; NetSuite has even done that itself with food and beverage and health and beauty editions of its products.

To further support channel-led customization projects, NetSuite has now introduced a microvertical program that delivers a cohesive playbook of best practices for product extension.

“There’s really two core competencies you have to have: NetSuite and you need to know the gaps,” West said. With the new microvertical program, partners are enabled to fill the gaps with their industry expertise.

NetSuite partners have already built more than 20 mature microvertical solutions, with another 40 in the pipeline.

“There’s a lot of places where vanilla NetSuite isn’t going to win, but vanilla plus the last mile will,” West told CRN.

Business Process Outsourcing Partners

When launched in 2014, NetSuite’s Business Process Outsourcing program was unique in dedicating channel resources specifically to partners providing front-office and back-office outsourcing services, including accounting, billing and project management.

That program unifying ERP, CRM and e-commerce offerings has grown exponentially over the past year as more business process consultancies look to put small businesses and startups on NetSuite’s cloud platform.

When those customers are on NetSuite, the partner can support their expansions, and continue offering consulting services even if they grow to the point that they can bring those processes in-house, West said.

“We’re seeing a lot of momentum around partners providing outsourced financial and operations services on NetSuite,” West said. “That’s sort of the industry coming to our vision of BPO.”

SuiteLife Partners

NetSuite launched its SuiteLife program in April 2019 as part of an initiative that represented the cloud pioneer’s largest-ever investment in its channel.

More than 600 partners have now adopted the SuiteLife model by leveraging the training, tools and marketing resources it makes available for on-boarding and developing expertise across products and industries, West said.

“We work together and lead our partners on everything, on-boarding your practice to hiring new consultants and salespeople to marketing and demand-gen and co-selling,” West said.

As SuiteLife has proven wildly successful in helping partners win customers and solve their problems faster, NetSuite will ramp its investment in the program to bring in even more of its channel.