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NetSuite lets users have it their way

The hosted provider is out with new customization capabilities designed for both users and resellers.

NetSuite Inc. has announced two customization enhancements that it hopes will end the "one-size-fits-all" image that hosted application providers have.

The San Mateo, Calif., application service provider is now offering Custom Records to allow companies to define their own custom record sets and Account Cloning to let resellers more easily develop industry-specific versions of NetSuite products.

Custom Records is free to existing NetSuite users; resellers will be charged a small fee to use Account Cloning.

The latter offering most impressed Denis Pombriant, vice president and CRM research director at Boston-based Aberdeen Group.

"No company in this space can possibly offer all the flavors of vertical-market capabilities," Pombriant said. "[Account Cloning] gives the reseller the ability to do for the customer what we've been doing with conventional software for many years."

Using Account Cloning, resellers and implementation providers can create a vertical template and quickly replicate it for multiple customers. This gives the reseller a simpler, faster way to provide solutions that can increase their margins. It also benefits customers, who will have access to an affordable industry solution, according to Sean Rollings, senior director of product marketing for NetSuite.

Rollings also insisted the Custom Records application is far more than configuration, which is what Pombriant equated it to. The application allows customers to create their own specific tables. Users can also add customized logic, Rollings said. For example, with a NetSuite contact record, users have to fill out certain fields before they can save and move on. With custom code, they can add individual fields for something like phone numbers or sales methodology processes that need to meet certain requirements before moving to next stage.

The application is based on JavaScript and is housed within NetSuite. Additionally, as NetSuite issues upgrades, the new code will move forward, eliminating the complexity of repeating customizations with upgrades, Rollings said.

The new functionality comes at a time when hosted providers are putting on a push to make their services more flexible and appeal to a larger group of users. Boston-based Salesnet Inc. recently unveiled plans to OEM its hosted software to industry-specific application providers. Meantime, market leader Salesforce.com, San Francisco, unveiled the latest iteration its application server. Sforce 2.0 builds on customization capabilities introduced earlier this year with the addition of custom objects, new workflow controls and programming controls for building user interfaces.

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