The Cloud can make for strange bedfellows, and that was the case at SuiteWorld, NetSuite’s annual user conference, when CEO Zach Nelson announced a wide-ranging strategic partnership with Microsoft, a rival in the ERP market.
For years NetSuite has been competing with the Microsoft Dynamics ERP applications division, openly courting its resellers, and ultimately converting their accounts to its camp by replacing their Dynamics AX, GP, NAV and SL customers with NetSuite’s Cloud offerings.
Things were much more cordial last week when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella — regarded as something of a cloud visionary, in stark contrast to his predecessor Steve Ballmer — did his part at SuiteWorld with a brief video message to the crowd.
The highlights of the partnership include:
1) In the coming months, NetSuite and Microsoft will start cloud-to-cloud integration between NetSuite and Office 365, offering seamless access to both technologies from a single interface, and improving collaboration across a variety of roles, from financials to shipping, marketing, ecommerce, business analytics, retail store associates and more.
2) NetSuite will move off Amazon AWS as its preferred cloud infrastructure for testing and developing. It will use Azure Active Directory for single sign-on, cloud-to-cloud integration. The collaboration pairs NetSuite’s cloud ERP suite with Microsoft cloud technology in both the near and short term.
3) Through integration with Excel, users can connect NetSuite data to Excel and Power BI for Office 365 to visualize information and discover new insights into their enterprise.
It’s refreshing to see a cloud player listen to its customers, as this partnership is expected to benefit many Office 365 users who also happen to be running NetSuite. The deal also owes a lot to the maxim “it’s not what you know; it’s who you know”: NetSuite recently hired Fred Studer, a Microsoft veteran who previously headed the US Microsoft Office business, as its Chief Marketing Officer.
The Azure Active Directory also adds value for users and the two companies. Microsoft gets more businesses to use Azure and NetSuite’s administrative costs tick downward. Microsoft also possesses the coin of the realm that NetSuite would love to grasp: a high distribution in large enterprises. It will be interesting to watch how parts of the arrangement come to fruition, including how NetSuite integrates with Windows.
In addition to Microsoft, other highlights of SuiteWorld, which attracted more than 7,500 attendees, are as follows:
4) NetSuite stepped up its push into the human capital management (HCM) applications market by announcing eight partnerships with different vendors. Seven of these have achieved “Built on NetSuite” partner status. The partnerships with Ascentis, CloudPay, Dell Boomi, Insperity, Meta4, NOVAtime, SilkRoad, TransCard and TribeHR, through the SuiteCloud Developer Network, enrich the NetSuite ERP suite with best-of-breed solutions from leading HCM software vendors and cloud integration providers, used by more than 100,000 organizations around the world to manage millions of employees across the employment lifecycle.
5) CEO Nelson pushed hard on OmniChannel Commerce and Omni-Customer Experience at the show. NetSuite SuiteCommerce features several new additions in 2015, including SuiteCommerce InStore. He dubbed this the “holy grail” of in-store and online commerce. It is a full featured POS, using a 360-degree profile of customers.
6) NetSuite has landed its largest customer ever, in terms of number of users and other metrics: American Express Global Business Travel (GBT).
American Express Global Business Travel will run its entire global financial operations on NetSuite OneWorld. Global Business Travel, one of the world’s largest travel agency networks, plans to use NetSuite OneWorld to power its core end-to-end financial processes, including financial consolidation across dozens of countries and currencies around the world, as well as order-to-cash and procure-to-pay – all within a single unified software system.
The winning of the GBT account, which has more than 14,000 employees in 140 countries, underscores NetSuite’s growing presence among some of the world’s biggest companies such as Amex GBT and HP, another recent win, while reinforcing its momentum in the professional services vertical.