How cloud-based solutions company Oracle NetSuite set up SMEs for ‘quick wins’

By: JT Nisay

LOCAL water-refilling station franchisor Living Water had an ambition that demanded the most perfect of executions. The small-to-medium enterprise (SME) dreamed to go regional.

The company’s search for the process that will deliver overseas expansion ended with a meeting with Jan Pabellon, product management director of Oracle NetSuite, the multinational company that provides a suite of cloud-based financials/Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP, and omnichannel commerce software. First, he asked Living Water’s owner of her company’s competitive advantage, and was met with sharp answers that would add up to the grand plan, from rolling out savvy social-media marketing promotions to organizing street parades for announcement of new branches, to even having plans to develop a Grab-like application where customers can track their ordered water supply.

Pabellon was impressed and asked: “So why Netsuite? And the owner said, ‘Kasi kami, we have a dream, and we want a system that’s ready, but also one that large companies use.’ I said that NetSuite is like that, but made affordable, even for SMEs like her.”
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Oracle NetSuite Philippines Managing Director Hazel Lee said in a recent exclusive interview with BusinessMirror that the company has, and continues to develop, products designed to help SMEs achieve so-called quick wins by getting businesses up and running in a faster period, and eventually add functionalities and features as needed—an approach that the company has honed over time as the world’s pioneer cloud company.

In 1998 NetSuite sparked the cloud revolution by delivering online business applications. In 2016 computer technology corporation Oracle acquired the company, and merged the cloud ERP solutions for SMEs with the breadth and depth of Oracle’s enterprise-grade cloud solutions for the back and front office.

Today, Oracle NetSuite runs the businesses of more than 40,000 companies, organizations and subsidiaries in more than 100 countries, including the Philippines, where its office was established in 2007 as the largest outside its United States headquarters.

Much like Living Water, having a big ambition and/or wanting a reliable, quick-to-deploy cloud-based system are two of the most common reasons that lead businesses to Oracle NetSuite.

Local chocolate maker Theo & Philo is another SME that saw its business grow under the watch of the cloud computing company. The San Juan based social enterprise locally source ingredients and produce “bean to bar” artisanal chocolates through a partnership with farming communities of nonprofit poverty alleviation movement Gawad Kalinga.

Behind quirky, truly-Filipino products such as “Dark Chocolate with Green Mango & Salt” and “Milk Chocolate with Pili Nut and & Pinipig,” Theo & Philo has enjoyed tremendous success since its founding in 2010 where production increased by 700 percent to about 14,000 bars a month. The massive growth opened up opportunities for product diversification and entry into the global market, but also rendered the company’s business management ways outdated. QuickBooks, Excel and manual process simply weren’t able to keep up anymore.

Theo & Philo then landed with NetSuite’s integrated platform after being named as a social enterprise grantee of corporate citizenship program. With automated workflows and intuitive system that streamline accounting, plus newfound access to real-time data that allowed for tighter inventory controls and recognition of improvement opportunities, maturation followed.

End-to-end efficiency improved by approximately 75 percent, according to the company’s testimony on the NetSuite web site, while expanding sales into Germany and Japan through built-in currency conversions for international transactions. Moreover, the company’s processes ramped up with on-demand data access as compared to using desktop applications, eliminating the need for costly in-house IT systems.

According to Lee, making the switch onto the cloud saves businesses from several old concerns, such as purchasing hardware and system maintenance. Pabellon, meanwhile, compared their integrated online platform to Facebook.

“Unlike before when people had CDs and installers, and had to figure out if any of that was compatible with their particular type of Java or Windows or Mac, our customers don’t have to worry about upgrading their software with our system.

It’s like using Facebook, which is always available, always on the latest version,” he said, adding that their first clients who used to access only 10 pioneer features can now use all of the 20 that they offer today, free of charge, as part of the subscription.

“They get more value over time and that, for them, is very compelling.”

Pabellon admitted that while the Philippines’s score on the cloud readiness index is not yet on the level of Hong Kong, Singapore or Korea, joint efforts by the private and public sectors to improve Internet speed in the country and a fairly liberal regulatory regime have contributed to a “healthy” adoption of cloud-based solutions.

Being hesitant to join the fray over security concerns, however, is common among first-time cloud-based ERP users. But according to Pabellon, once people get to know about their products and its features, perspectives change quickly as they learn that with online banking-like encryption, regular third-party audit and security engineers that develop sophisticated firewalls and intrusion detective systems, making the move to the cloud can actually be more secure than staying out of it.

Pabellon also recalled the instance when their Marikina-based car repair client, MoTech, was the only business running after Ondoy hit because all of their financial data were on the cloud. “Using only just broadband Internet, they were already good to go because their sales order, invoice, vendor procurement, inventory, etc. were all online.”

While Oracle NetSuite products are available to all types of businesses, Lee said they will continue to develop products and feature that can help small businesses grow big. Pabellon added that the company will also look into tackling more industries and explore areas where they can innovate further, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, as announced during SuiteWorld 2018 in April.