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Managed.IT talks to Nicky Tozer, VP EMEA, Oracle NetSuite……

…….about how the cloud-based business suite can help customers tackle the big challenges they face today, from data overload to low productivity

Last October and November, in the pre-corona virus era, Oracle NetSuite, provider of an integrated suite of cloud-based applications, including financials/Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), HR, professional services automation and omnichannel commerce, conducted an international survey of business managers to identify the challenges and opportunities they face in today’s business climate.

While the survey revealed high levels of optimism, especially amongst the 300 UK respondents, 63% of whom expect to grow over the next two years, it also uncovered some big challenges, particularly around information overload, with 92% of UK executives admitting to being overwhelmed by data when making decisions and 18% admitting that they relied on gut feeling and intuition to make critical decisions.

These findings are grist to the mill for Oracle NetSuite, which through its application suite aims to put business operations on surer foundations by enabling better, data driven business decision-making.

Not surprisingly, Oracle NetSuite VP EMEA Nicky Tozer was quick to pick up on this aspect when ManagedIT caught up with her earlier this year, highlighting the suite’s ability to present customers with the data they need to run their business effectively.

“Data becomes overwhelming when you are just presented with a load of numbers that aren’t relevant to you, your role or what you are trying to achieve. NetSuite presents data to users in a role-based dashboard: if I am a sales person, I see data about my sales teams, my forecasts, my pipelines and sales activities; if I am a finance person, I see figures about day sales outstanding, profit & loss and the kinds of things that are relevant to a finance person. That makes that data more consumable, because you look at the top-level number and can then drill down and look at the other data you need from there. All the data is still in there, but it is presented to someone in a way that is meaningful to them,” she said.

Another way in which NetSuite helps mid-market companies and SMBs make sense of data is through what it calls its SuiteSuccess methodology – pre-configured, industry-specific versions of the platform. Tozer says that as well as saving time and money this approach ensures that implementations are aligned to best practice in specific sectors based on the processes of NetSuite’s 19,000 customers worldwide.

“SMB companies don’t buy ERP every day; often they don’t understand what they want it to do because they don’t have processes in place to start with. They like it when we go to them and say ‘Look, if you are a software company this is what 1,500 other software companies are doing. Why do you need to do it differently?’ They like the fact that we pre-configure for them and give them guidance on what the processes are, that they can then just use,” she said.

Last year, NetSuite launched more SuiteSuccess editions for wholesale distribution companies, for manufacturing companies and for social impact.

“Social impact is a really important part of what we do at NetSuite,” explained Tozer. “We help non-profit companies of varying sizes to implement our platform and we support them with the services to do that. For these social impact companies, we also now have a SuiteSuccess edition, which helps them focus their time and resources better on what they are actually trying to achieve as a non-profit organisation.”

Gut instinct
Another problem highlighted by NetSuite’s research is the extent to which business executives are relying on gut instinct rather than data insight when making business decisions. Of UK organisations surveyed, 73% acknowledged that they were not making highly datadriven decisions, but instead were relying on intuition – a problem that is exacerbated by greater time pressure, with 27% of executives complaining that in the last 12 months they had less time to focus on critical decisions.

“When you have a single integrated platform for all your data and if you are given the rights and the security access to look at that data, you have a 360 degree view of your customer, so you know everything you need to know about your customer based on your role and that helps you to make business decisions. From a finance perspective, it helps you to do things like close the books faster, so you spend two days doing that rather than 10 days, giving you another 8 days to do analytics that can help you predict what your business is going to do,” said Tozer.

The upshot is greater businessagility and the flexibility to adjust plans to changing circumstances. Currently, just 34% of businesses surveyed by NetSuite say they are proficient at adjusting business plans based on data analysis.

“Even simple analysis like this year versus last year can be very powerful, but that is still very difficult to do if you don’t have an integrated system to pull all the data together consistently across the organisation. Otherwise one bit of the organisation is going to have a different set of data about that very same thing to another department within the organisation. Having a single integrated platform and immediate access to real-time data on a consistent basis across the organisation is vital for agility. If you have good visibility of your business, you can start to think about different models you might use for each scenario. Then, as each thing presents itself you can react faster and do what is going to suit your business best.”

In the meantime, Tozer says NetSuite will continue to expand its offering in other countries, for example with tax audit compliance and localisation, continue to develop new SuiteSuccess editions targeting specific industries and markets, and continue to improve the end user experience and business analytics.

“We are always improving the business analytics piece of NetSuite. If you improve how you are doing your financials, everything gets done faster and you have more time to do the analysis that helps you make predictions on what might happen to your business, and therefore react to them,” she said.

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