NetSuite positions itself for Middle East incursion

Vendor plans to rapidly expand its channel once an official distributor has been brought on board later this year

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By  Julian Pletts Published  May 11, 2009

NetSuite, the ERP, CRM and e-commerce solutions provider, is currently in the process of signing a master distributor to officially market its products in the Middle East.

The vendor, which claims to already have 35 customers in the region, plans to rapidly expand its channel with the signing of resellers and solutions providers once an official distributor has been brought on board later this year.

Dean Mansfield, managing director of NetSuite, said he was unable to name the distributors that the firm has in mind to take responsibility for the entire Middle East market, but said it had been talking to an “array of potential partners here.”

“They [the distributor] clearly have to have distribution capabilities across the key markets in MENA, they have got to be able to run an implementation practice, or at least have partners that can do that,. Getting a customer configured and data enforced in the right place and setting up the business work-flow and the internet work suite are important,” explained Mansfield.

“Our application is 90% done when you buy it, all you have to do is input your data, map your business work-flow inside NetSuite, and you are live,” he added.

Despite this readiness of the NetSuite platform, the vendor insists there is great potential for partners to profit from working with the vendor. Solutions providers are able to mould the vendor’s offering to suit industry and vertical specific needs, plus resellers can make healthy, long-term margins from the annuity service opportunities that NetSuite’s offerings present.

NetSuite explains it is largely targeted at the SMB market and that this is a market that perhaps holds the most potential for revenue for customer-starved channel players at the moment.

“We are very much a mid-market application, we are not trying to take on SAP and Oracle in that space, though we have had a few SAP deployments that we have replaced,” said Mansfield. “We are very much SMB-focused, we are not going to deal with Emirates Airlines or the big department stores, our sweet spot is 50 to 500 employees, and that is the last great battle ground for business applications.”

Mansfield denied that the timing of the move into the Middle East was an effort to bolster the firm’s sales growth, which was down 22% in the first quarter from over 40% at the end of last year. “If you look at the evolution of most IT companies, we are early coming here,” asserted Mansfield. “We have been planning to do this for the last 12 months.”

When asked whether it plans to open an office here the vendor effusively stated that for the foreseeable future, at least five to six years, it intends to work through a master distribution partnership but it would install some of its own staff at that alliance to oversee the relationship and drive channel development.

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