Cloud business software firm NetSuite kicked off its SuiteWorld 2014 conference in San Jose today with a clutch of minor announcements delivered alongside a dollop of scorn for its rivals in the space.
After a technical glitch that saw delegates locked outside the morning keynote area for nearly an hour, CEO Zach Nelson took the stage to announce a new-look, "Amazon-like" UI, followed by a "next-generation" business-to-business customer care centre.
The new UI supports HTML 5, and was more than once referred to as "Amazon-like" during the presentation, focusing on so-called "flat design" with clear, easy-read fonts, an anchored navigational header, and a dashboard that can more easily be personalised.
The B2B customer care centre, meanwhile, wants to offer a "B2C-like online shopping experience" for its customers, aiming to help businesses expand customer bases and, presumably, help NetSuite pull even more companies into its brand of cloud.
Nelson started by reminding the audience that 2014 marked the first time NetSuite has "moved into the top 10 financial management systems" in its 15-year history. According to analyst firm Forrester, this elevation is the result of a 42 per cent market share growth.
Nelson then began to let rip on NetSuite's rivals in the space.
"These guys give me so much material," Nelson laughed, before poking fun at Microsoft executive VP of business solutions Kirill Tatarinov for a February 2014 statement that no serious company was doing ERP in the cloud (and refusing to attend SuiteWorld to see otherwise).
Nelson said that NetSuite's ability to put "both ERP and CRM" in the cloud shows "how confused these people are" and "why they haven't made any progress in bringing their systems designed in the nineties into the cloud era".
At this point, a slightly bungled ringing phone gag saw Nelson ask: "Is that the 1990s calling? You want your ERP strategy back? I think you should call Microsoft," to a smattering of applause and cheers from partners and employees.
Nelson then rounded on Sage, calling the company "sort of dead in the US".
While Nelson talking down his rivals is nothing new, and is in fact something of a NetSuite tradition, there was perhaps a feeling today of a company kicking its foes while they were already down.
Even though NetSuite is another cloud firm yet to turn a profit (although a reported $62m cashflow is "another way to look at profitability", Nelson helpfully suggested), it's unarguably a much larger and more successful company than the little "management software that could" that sprang up in San Mateo back in 1998.
The IT industry is never a place for humility, but NetSuite should probably start to accept that it's no longer snapping at any heels in the cloud battle. Nelson could well benefit from displaying a style of pride that befits an industry leader, as opposed to an up-and-comer.
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