Sometimes what happens in Vegas can’t stay in Vegas. Here’s why:
I recently spoke at SuiteWorld in Las Vegas, Oracle NetSuite’s largest annual gathering of the NetSuite community.
This was an exciting event for me because it was my first time talking about the business applications of artificial intelligence in front of a crowd. When asked about the risk of AI taking over people’s jobs I replied, “You need to have natural intelligence in order for artificial intelligence to work”.
I probably could have thought of a better way to say that, but you get the point. It’s not just the access to powerful tools that leads to extraordinary outcomes, it’s the strategic application of them.
During this event I was able to catch up with Evan Goldberg, Founder & EVP of Oracle NetSuite, as well as one of their many clients, Dude Products.
I’ll share my main takeaways below.
Photo courtesy of Oraclel NetSuite.
NetSuite’s 25th Anniversary Celebration
Fun fact, many believe NetSuite might have been the first company to coin the term ‘cloud-based’ in relation to business software.
NetSuite was started in 1998 by Evan Goldberg. Back then, the company was called NetLedger, representing the concept of an online general ledger. It was the pioneer in providing internet-based business management applications to its users and is regarded as the first cloud computing software company.
But that wasn’t the only competitive advantage they developed.
From inception, NetSuite was primarily meant to be a browser-based program. And although this is rather common today, it was a unique differentiator at the time. The goal was to make it so that just by logging into a browser a user could easily access the tool and their data.
Conversely, most of their rivals ran on a desktop software that needed to be manually downloaded and installed. This unique differentiator became a tipping point as offering real-time information for all users led to the company’s rapid and steady growth.
Although things are clearly going well, Evan shared one piece of advice he would have given himself 25 years ago:
“The advice that I give myself is that our customers are our biggest asset, and that this is not about technology for technology’s sake. It’s about the customers.”
Goldberg shares how they’ve continued this process over the years.
“We now have a really great discipline around how we build new products and new parts of our product. We use design thinking, which has many stages of empathy and ideating. We’ve learned how to listen to our customers better over 25 years. So that’s what I would have been encouraging myself to do is to just as soon as you can, deeply understand your customers.”
This is sound advice for any entrepreneur at any stage. If you want to build a better product, just listen to your customers.
How DUDE Wipes has grown with NetSuite
Today, NetSuite has over 37,000 global customers. One customer I spoke to at the event was Dude Products, a flushable toilet wipes company.
Greg Brown, VP of Operations at Dude Products, shared how NetSuite allows them to keep the profits soaring with a relatively small team.
NetSuite solves a lot of operational and accounting challenges. We’re on track to do over $100 million this year, and we’re only 17 people. That’s not to say that we’re going to stay that small because we’re gonna grow, but a lot of that is due to the streamline processes that we get out of a tool like NetSuite. It creates visibility, organizes data and allows us to not to worry about entering things manually.”
Greg is well aware of the downfalls that come with overhiring. He spoke to his experience at a previous startup.
“We had like 10 people that we’d throw at one problem.” As you can imagine, this is very costly for a growing startup. He continued, explaining the cost benefits: “After NetSuite, we were able to not have to hire right away. It’s the fact that you don’t need to keep throwing people at problems. You can now start letting the tool work for you, so it’s a headcount savings.”
How can you apply this to your business? When faced with a new challenge, consider leveraging technology as the first solution.
What’s next for NetSuite?
As mentioned, I was at SuiteWorld to speak about AI innovations for businesses. I asked Evan Goldberg for his perspective on that, as well and how AI ranks as a priority for NetSuite.
“I’ve wanted to use AI to provide sort of intelligent assistance at NetSuite for many years. And it looks to me that with some of the advances that we’re seeing in generative AI as well as other forms of AI that the technology is here for us to do that way better than we ever had the opportunity to do before.”
But, staying true to the mission, Goldberg stated that this is not about using technology just because it’s available. Instead, he’s focused on the customer experience.
“Another key priority for us is the overall business user experience, which of course, AI is a part of revolutionizing. Making business applications more approachable, easier to use, more enjoyable to use, is a really critical priority for us.”
Recognizing people are sometimes forced to use technology at their job, Evan’s goal is to make technology a seamless, helpful integration.
“We really want it to seem like an enhancement to your job, that you have the opportunity to use these powerful applications. Again, backed by AI.”
Ready to learn more?
SuiteWorld may be over, but you can still catch the action by watching the replay. Login for free to catch all the keynotes, sessions and demos.
Plus, you’ll get a chance to hear how I recommend applying AI to your specific business.