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Build a business case: developing custom apps

The (generally speaking uncustomisable) user interface of online business services is the last significant stumbling block they have had to face. This has meant that users of services such as those from Software as a Service (SaaS) vendor NetSuite have had to use the UI that comes with the service, even if it didn't really fit their business processes.

That now changes with what the company claims is a first – a fully customisable UI that means businesses can have the interface that maps onto their business process needs.

This is at the heart of SuiteFlex, a new application development platform that is targeted specifically at the company's channel partners. This adds the ability to build their own vertical applications on top of the NetSuite business management system as well as an integrated, end-to-end customised UI for their customers, and then have it all available as an online, on demand service delivered via NetSuite.

The company has also launched Suite Bundler, which it defines as "Service as Software". This allows the channel partners to code and embed their knowledge of industry best practices and applications directly into the NetSuite system.

According to senior product manager Mini Peiris, these are major components in the company's plan to build a service aggregator business. This will allow NetSuite to take complementary applications services developed by its business partners and package them together to provide levels of services that individual partners could not attempt. There are already 100 partner applications available through NetSuite as open source services.

Aggregation services by a primary service provider like NetSuite opens up significant market opportunities for channel partners such as ISVs, systems integrators, and the like. By having their specific offerings integrate into the NetSuite service, they can also be integrated with other complementary offerings, broadening their potential market opportunities by being grouped in industry-specific packages or suites.

It also broadens the potential for NetSuite itself in that it should be able to rapidly put together these industry-specific service packages – for example, a retail industry suite – with minimum engineering or development resource commitment and a short lead time. These suites would also be easy to modify or adapt to meet changing market needs. ®

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