The Future of the Cloud Is in the Believing

I believe that our daily interactions with NetSuite customers and prospects are an excellent indicator of where business is going. 

Last week, as NetSuite’s VP of Professional Services APAC, I participated in three presentations to prospects interested in NetSuite cloud ERP. So what? Isn’t that a typical week in the office? Well, yes, but it was also a powerful validation of a growing trend we are seeing—large global enterprises are transitioning from Stone Age on-premise ERP to cloud-based business management.

Two of the three presentations were to Fortune 500 companies that had been using SAP as their primary ERP solution for more than 10 years. Both of these multinational companies knew that they would never again go through another SAP implementation. Both were looking to a cloud software provider to help them solve growing pains in their emerging markets—India, Australia, China, Vietnam and Thailand, to name a few. 

The primary motivation of these companies is simple—they recognise that with cloud computing, they can get to their respective markets fast and cheaper. They know that cloud ERP gives them a more controlled, centralised deployment without the fuss and bother of on-premise databases, servers, virtualisation, and disaster recovery systems that require a financial investment way beyond the cost of the software itself.

When presenting NetSuite cloud solutions to an organisation familiar with SAP, I always take the time to look around the room, gauge body language and try to get a sense of how we are doing. In each case. I find one emotion consistently displayed—disbelief.  

When talking to business and IT leaders familiar with SAP, I find they simply don’t believe that NetSuite can be deployed in six months. They don’t believe we can upgrade all of our customers twice per year without disruption. They certainly don’t believe that NetSuite would allow them to customise their environments and seamlessly retain those customisations through the upgrade process.

Cloud-based ERP software is very hard to build, so understandably some people out there simply don’t believe it can be done. On the other hand, cloud believers recognize that NetSuite has been implemented at more than 10,000 organisations, many of which are using cloud ERP in a two-tiered deployment with legacy applications such as SAP and Oracle.

CFOs, CIOs and other business and IT leaders who chose cloud ERP software are now reaping the benefits, and are eagerly expanding on their initial footprint. The number of disbelievers is steadily diminishing as more and more companies come to believe the cloud is real—and that it enables them to run better and grow faster.

In the meantime, I look forward to my next prospect meeting with yet another “Director, Global SAP” and wonder when the time will come when the company is forced to rethink that job title. 

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