NetSuite Beefs Up Automation Business Apps

Software upgrades are part of company's ambitious growth plan.

NetSuite (NYSE: N), which offers integrated business-management suites in software as a service (SaaS) (define) form to small and medium-size businesses, has unveiled upgrades to its CRM+ customer relationship management CRM (define) product and NS-BOS platform-as-a-service offerings. These product refreshes focus around customer service and marketing automation.

The AJAX-based (define) CRM+ upgrades expand knowledge management, and customer service and support capabilities. The NS-BOS upgrades provide more support for JavaScript and the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) SOAP (define) protocol. NetSuite has also announced support for the Firefox 3 browser.

NetSuite goes head to head with some of the biggest players in the fields it covers. On the CRM side, (NYSE: CRM) and Oracle's Siebel CRM OnDemand are its main competitors.

NetSuite's product updates follow its June acquisition of automated professional services software provider OpenAir for $26 million. Observers say the software vendor is expanding its portfolio of enterprise services with these moves.

The company is constantly adding "good solid enterprise functionality," Paul Greenberg, an analyst at the 56 Group and executive vice president of the National CRM Association, told

For example, NetSuite added globalization functionality in June, which lets users handle multiple currencies and languages. This feature requires only a single dashboard, "so even if you had multiple offices in multiple countries using multiple currencies in multiple languages you'd have a single global view," Greenberg said.

"Even though they're in the SaaS space, they're probably closer to SAP (NYSE: SAP) than any other vendor," Greenberg said. "They resemble SAP, although they don't have supply-chain functionality like SAP does."

NetSuite, which is 54 percent owned by Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) CEO Larry Ellison and went public in December, has human resources and mobile capabilities, but isn't strong in either, according to Greenberg, who notes that the company is strong in financials, where it began, and in CRM.

The OpenAir purchase adds applications ranging from expense reports to workflow and resource management capabilities to NetSuite's products. "They still have a credible claim to being the only vendor in the space that has ERP and CRM and e-commerce built together from the ground up and offered on demand," Denis Pombriant, an analyst at Beagle Research, told

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