There’s been a lot of talk and a bit of controversy floating around recently about the future of enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM) and other TLAs (three letter acronyms). Yes, labels can be confusing, particularly when you start comparing offerings from different vendors. At first glance some of these solution providers appear to be direct competitors, when in fact they are not. As a provider of ERP, CRM and eCommerce, NetSuite often competes against other companies that offer something less than its fully integrated suite. Mint Jutras finds an overwhelming preference for an integrated, end-toend solution, putting NetSuite at a competitive advantage over other vendors with a more narrow footprint. But Mint Jutras characterizes a true modern and “next generation” ERP as one that delivers more innovation. With almost limitless possibilities for business transformation today, the pressure is on to continually evolve with an ever broader and deeper solution.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
These vendor and solution comparisons happen more frequently in the cloud than elsewhere in the enterprise software landscape. When discussing or evaluating any solution provider, the tendency is to look for other similar vendors. Because there are very few ERP solutions that were born in the cloud and offered exclusively through Software as a Service (SaaS) deployment, comparisons are often made to other exclusively cloud vendors. So, NetSuite for example gets compared to Salesforce.com and Workday, both of which are SaaS-only solutions. But they aren’t ERP. In fact NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson has gone so far as to say Salesforce isn’t CRM because it doesn’t capture the customer order. If you take the acronym literally, as managing the entire relationship with the customer, Salesforce is a subset. It manages contacts and opportunity and pipeline, but once an order is taken it drops the ball in managing the continued relationship through delivery, invoicing and post-sale support. CRM vendors have been claiming to provide a 360o view of the customer for years, but without that post-sale element, the view is not complete.