Moe, Larry, and Shemp

Posted: July 27, 2006 in CRM

I love the people at NetSuite and I think they have some good products, a customer oriented attitude, and generally that they have their heads screwed on right most of the time.  But I feel an irresistable compuntion to give them a noogie right now.

I just got email from them announcing some take-aways from Salesforce.com.  The email reads in part:

"Salesforce.com’s newly announced SAP connector essentially reveals Achilles heal: a CRM application without ERP integration is basically useless. CRM without ERP is like ham without eggs, Sonny without Cher." 

To this list I suppose you could add Moe and Larry without Curley and in one of their gags on the best sandwiches in the world, honey without peanut butter or bologna without whipped cream.

Useless?  hmmm…strong words.  I think this is more like two parties talkiing past one another as in a low calorie beer commercial: "Taastes great!"  "Less filling!" Now let the mud wrestling begin.  Que the blonds.

In fact there are, as I see it, two distinct markets that are parallel but not intersecting–one where the integration of front and back office is vital and the other where it is not only non-essential but where tight integration might actually be a not very good thing.  This all centers around the idea of whether or not a company already has back office functionality (most big companies do) in which case bringing in an ERP function along with CRM might be the latter day equivalent of coals to Newcastle.

Salesforce.com has been smart enough to integrate with SAP, which makes a lot of sense since SAP is everywhere and many SAP customers do not operate, or do not want to operate, SAP CRM.  You only need to look at Siebel’s success to understand that.  So it makes a good deal of sense to offer a connector to SAP as a sort of software modus vivendi.  It would make far less sense for the company to offer tight integration with MAS back office products from Sage given that Sage has a pretty full inventory of CRM including SalesLogix, Sage CRM, and the popular ACT! product.

NetSuite, on the other hand, is executing a smart strategy for smaller companies that might not have either front or back office applications or possibly those that are running on back office solutions that operate on a single PC and could stand an upgrade.  That’s a great market and it doesn’t matter which end of the business NetSuite implements first; I am sure there are lots of customers that are glad to know they can go to a one stop shop for all their business solutions and not have to worry about a costly integration between front and back office systems.

NetSuite offers a lot of functionality and its sweet spot is the company that needs both front and back office functionality.  But I remain unconvinced that large companies with back end functionality already in place would be ill served going with SFDC.

At the end of the day, to a degree, it’s a matter of personal preference: either you like balogna and whipped cream, or you don’t.

Moe, Larry, tickle my foot! nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!

So, what did you think?

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