Social media strategy eyes the enterprise.NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson said his company decided to support social networking vendor Yammer over rival Qontext as the best social media platform for enterprise because those organisations tended to have separate applications for CRM and ERP. They were therefore less likely to have all employees using a single application such as NetSuite, Nelson said.
“In the Fortune 80 and large companies, not every user has a log in to NetSuite and so there’s no way that the NetSuite UI (user interface) is going to be a social UI for them. They will use something like Yammer,” Nelson said in an interview with BoxFreeIT. An edited transcript of the interview is available here. In mid-sized companies that used NetSuite for ERP and CRM, “basically everyone is transacting on the record”, Nelson said. In that case, “it would make great sense to have the social media system within the NetSuite application, and that’s exactly where an application like Qontext applies.”
NetSuite’s prototype platform
Nelson said he had looked at building an internal social media platform into NetSuite but ultimately decided to make it a separate application that could integrate with third-party social media vendors. He said that social media was still an undeveloped field and there was “no way” the company could pick a winner.
NetSuite built a prototype social media platform that was like a “very limited” version of Qontext to experiment with before changing direction and creating SuiteSocial, an integration tool on the SuiteCloud development platform.“In general a system of record like NetSuite is so different from a system of engagement like Yammer that we just felt we needed to think of a different strategy than owning the whole strategy ourselves,” Nelson said.
“Then we said, since we’re not going to pick the winner in the system of engagement world, how are we going to work with many winners?” said NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson.
“Which is a big thing for NetSuite because NetSuite’s strategy is to build everything. For us to say that we’re not going to build, that is actually a very big strategic decision for us.
“Then we said, since we’re not going to pick the winner in the system of engagement world, how are we going to work with many winners? That’s when we came up with the idea for SuiteSocial. Let’s enable any system of engagement, because there may be new systems of engagement beyond Yammer some day, right?”
Once the decision was made to use an external platform, NetSuite looked at Yammer as the biggest vendor in social media by users and penetration, and was impressed with the product, Nelson said.
“We were like, oh yeah, we would never have built this. There is no way that we could have built a fully functional social media client the way Yammer has done it,” Nelson said.
“So we thought we made the right decision, this is a very different beast and so this socialisation of our media is a great strategy.”
Nelson announced the partnership with Yammer CEO David Sacks on stage on the first day of the vendor’s inaugural user conference in San Francisco. SuiteSocial, due to launch in Q2, would send a feed of all activity on customer and other records to the Yammer enterprise social networking platform, Nelson said.
The following day during his keynote, NetSuite CTO Evan Goldberg invited Qontext’s Samir Ghosh, VP of business development and strategy, onto stage to demonstrate how its integrated messaging worked within NetSuite.
While Ghosh made no mention of SuiteSocial or Yammer during the presentation, a message sent by Qontext’s Twitter account the next day read: “Have you seen NetSuite + Qontext? Better than NS + Yammer and SFDC + Chatter”. (NS is an abbreviation of NetSuite; Chatter is the name of the social media platform used by Salesforce.com.)
How SuiteSocial works
NetSuite explained how SuiteSocial would operate in a press release, excerpted here.
“With SuiteSocial, users can follow records of interest in NetSuite, and as important activities and updates occur, SuiteSocial content is automatically generated which may then be syndicated to an external social stream or feed.
“The NetSuite SuiteSocial content is integrated and presented to Yammer users as activity stories in Yammer’s new Activity Streams. Activity Streams are currently displayed as a separate feed in Yammer and in the future, the most relevant stories will be elevated into the user’s primary feed.
“Yammer Activity Streams were expected to launch in Q2 followed by the NetSuite integration in early Q3. The Yammer Activity Stories API were expected to be made available to all third-party developers in Q3,” said the release.
Disclosure: Sholto Macpherson travelled to the NetSuite conference SuiteWorld as a guest of NetSuite.
Behind the scenes with NetSuite’s Nelson – edited transcript of the interview
“Yammer and NetSuite socialise business data and activity”, NetSuite press release