New NetSuite edition focuses on financials

The on-demand ERP vendor wants customers to know its software can be bought in modular fashion

NetSuite is making a fresh run at rivals like Sage and Microsoft with a new application that focuses on financials, versus the full breadth of its on-demand suite, which also includes CRM (customer relationship management) and e-commerce components.

The new NetSuite Financials module includes tools such as general ledger; order-to-cash functionality; inventory and supply chain features; "services resource planning" capabilities, which services companies can use to manage projects; payroll and compensation management; and NetSuite's SuiteAnalytics BI (business intelligence) package.

In the latest of a string of similar enticements, NetSuite is offering a 30 percent list-price discount on the financials module for those who switch from Microsoft GP or any Sage ERP (enterprise resource planning) application.

NetSuite is also touting the module's "seamless" integration with rival Salesforce.com. The move both tacitly acknowledges that vendor's dominant position in on-demand CRM and provides an avenue for garnering some of Salesforce.com customers' dollars.

On the second front, NetSuite is competing with the likes of Intacct, which has built an integration with Salesforce.

Overall, NetSuite's announcement represents a subtle shift in strategy, since the vendor has often pointed to its integrated family of ERP, CRM and supply chain applications as a selling point. That has apparently turned off some users who want to take more incremental steps into on-demand software.

"The suite's doing fine, but some customers out there aren't necessarily inviting us to the table because they think they have to take on the entire suite," said Mini Peiris, vice president of product marketing.

NetSuite has always offered the option of starting with financials and also sells its CRM product in stand-alone form, she added. Wednesday's announcement, therefore, is more about repositioning than new technology, according to Peiris.

The financials SKU is priced the same as NetSuite's flagship suite, at US$499 per month plus $99 per user per month.

NetSuite chose to extend the discount offer to Sage and Microsoft customers mainly because those two vendors represent a large chunk of the target market and their customers may be struggling with the decision to upgrade, Peiris said.

While acknowledging that many potential NetSuite customers may be using software from other vendors, Peiris would not concretely say that the discount offer would be extended to those users as well.

"That's always a sales discussion. Those are discussions that happen during the sales process," she said.

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