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NetSuite goes to 11

The SaaS CRM/ERP vendor adds new customization capabilities, vertical flavors, and AJAX-enhanced reporting.

NetSuite Inc. has rolled out the latest upgrade to its software as a service (SaaS) ERP and CRM applications.

In a launch event at the Oakland Coliseum, home to the Oakland A's, a NetSuite customer, the San Mateo, Calif.-based company unveiled version 11. The release will occur in phases, beginning this month and running through June, and features a new SuiteScript tool to help companies customize their business processes between the CRM and ERP systems within the on-demand application.

"We've always had lead-to-order and order-to-cash," said Mini Peiris, vice president of product management. "Now you're able to right-click and basically customize the flows. Once the script is written, an end business user can tweak those parameters."

So, for example, a complex discounting process can be written into the application with SuiteScript, and a business user can modify the percentage discount once the parameters have been set.

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NetSuite 11 also extends the company's support of AJAX (asynchronous Javascript and XML), improving reporting to enable users to preview reports as they build them and manipulate data columns, AJAX-powered document management, and list editing.

"One typical complaint we've heard with Web-based applications is you have to scroll a lot to get the information you need," Peiris said. "AJAX provides a dynamic interface so you can expand and collapse the information you're viewing on your dashboard."

NetSuite also continued its push into vertical markets with the release of editions for wholesaler/distributor and services company editions. This follows up on last month's release of a software company edition.

With this latest release, NetSuite is taking aim at the midmarket -- companies with fewer than 1,000 employees -- with its combined ERP, CRM and e-commerce tool. No application vendor dominates the midmarket in the way SAP and Oracle control the enterprise market, and those vendors have proven the need for a unified suite of applications, Peiris said.

The release also sets the stage for an initial public offering (IPO). CEO Zach Nelson said in published reports that he would like to file for an IPO in the second half of this year. The move would follow a path blazed by rivals in the SaaS CRM market. San Francisco-based Salesforce.com went public in June 2004, followed by Bozeman, Mont.-based RightNow Technologies in August.

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