Whether you call it software-as-a-service, Web-based software or on-demand applications, products such as NetSuite and Salesforce.com are changing how small and mid-sized businesses look at productivity tools. The rise of these Web-based services means enterprise-class business tools without the big hardware costs or long deployment times.
However, the one claim that traditional software vendors have had is that Web-based applications took a one-size-fits all approach. No matter what you call it, Web-based applications haven't been known for customization. That was yesterday's application service. Thanks to tools such as NetSuite's SuiteFlex or Salesforce.com's AppExchange, customers and third-party vendors are able to customize and add on to the popular Web-based suites.
Today NetSuite took customization a step further with the release of SuiteBundler, which Craig Sullivan, vice president of product management international, said is a key part of the SuiteFlex application development and integration platform. He added that SuiteFlex ties NetSuite to other Web services and legacy applications.
The new tools are designed to let third-parties customize NetSuite's business applications, which include accounting, ERP, CRM, and e-commerce tools. NetSuite customers can then add the new functions themselves directly through NetSuite's user interface.
In theory, at least, this is a win-win situation for both NetSuite partners and NetSuite customers.
Partners can re-use processes they have created for one customer and make it available to other businesses in that market. And the business has access to industry-specific features that they can simply turn on in NetSuite. The process, Sullivan said, is similar to "flipping the switch" on any new NetSuite feature.
"The ability to take a piece of custom functionality that was designed for a single customer and use it repeatably for other implementations has been the holy grail for services companies," said Zach Nelson, CEO of NetSuite, in a statement released today.
New SMB offerings for NetSuite delivered via SuiteBundler include those targeted at companies in software, media/publishing, IT resellers, agricultural equipment dealerships, seaport management, retail, electronics distribution and shipping material franchises.
"In addition to vertical bundles, SuiteBundler also allows for horizontal add-ons," Sullivan said. For example, NetSuite customers will be able to add fixed asset management, tax automation and warranty management features to the NetSuite platform.
|Bundle Builder is a graphical assistant designed to help you select and create SuiteBundles.|
SuiteBundler includes the following components, according to NetSuite:
Bundle Builder is a three-step graphical assistant designed to help in selecting and creating SuiteBundles. According to NetSuite, components include anything from configurable and customizable features (ranging from user roles, dashboards, tabs, centers, reports, lists and forms) to database elements (such as fields and records/objects) to scripted business process and application development elements (such as client SuiteScript, Server SuiteScript, SuiteScript user interface Objects and Suitelets).
NetSuite partners creating a SuiteBundle for commercial availability would distribute it as "Shared" to the accounts of particular customers who have purchased the service, while customers using SuiteBundler to prototype their own customizations and implementation of new business processes would set availability to "Private."
Developers or even customers can also choose to distribute a Public SuiteBundle, fostering an open-source community for sharing small add-on enhancements to NetSuite, Sullivan said.
To install a SuiteBundle, Sullivan said, you locate it by browsing the SuiteSource Bundle Repository or searching by a specific Bundle ID provided by the vendor who sold you the bundle. NetSuite said that once you have located a particular SuiteBundle, installing it is as easy as one-click. With that click, all the contents of the bundle are automatically inserted into your account.
If you later decide to remove the SuiteBundle component, an uninstall feature is also available. NetSuite said that any customizations and solutions added using SuiteBundler are seamlessly carried forward with version upgrades.
A Bundle From NetSuite
To get the SuiteBundler ball rolling, NetSuite also today announced NetSuite for Media/Publishing.
The company said the new offering is designed to deliver a host of SuiteBundles targeting the needs of any media/publishing company. Features include insertion order management, advertising billing (including integration with advertising servers for synchronization of impression and verification data), advertising campaign management, and dashboards and real-time reporting (tailored for insertion Order forecast and bookings, campaign status and impressions reporting, and pending advertisement fulfillments). Early customers of NetSuite for Media/Publishing include The Onion, TorStar Digital and Curbed Media.
NetSuite's Sullivan said the company is also releasing a vertical offering at IT Resellers.
NetSuite CRM, NetSuite CRM+ and NetSuite include SuiteBundles at no additional charge. NetSuite Small Business includes the capability to install SuiteBundles, but not to create or share them, according to NetSuite.
|Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!|