Chief executive Zach Nelson explains how technology can be used to harness a business's myriad data.
Founded in 1998, NetSuite is the leading provider of CRM (customer relationship management) and ERP (enterprise resource planning) software for small and medium-sized businesses -- all packed into one application. Unlike the SAPs and Oracles of the world, the NetSuite offering is an on-demand Internet model.
We spoke with NetSuite's chief executive, Zach Nelson, about how managing your company well involves technology (like his, perhaps) -- and some organizational savvy.
Inc. Technology: How can a company manage itself efficiently -- aside from using software?
Zach Nelson: I think you need to organize and rally your team around a key set of metrics so that everyone is pulling in the same direction. How you measure your progress against those objectives is, of course, up to each individual company. You can use a white board, a company meeting, an Excel spreadsheet, or a business application. A system like NetSuite just makes it easier to keep everyone focused on these metrics, in real-time, and ensures that the data comprising those metrics is actually accurate.
Inc. Technology: You've been quoted as saying it can be more difficult running a smaller company than a larger one. What did you mean by that?
Nelson: Small companies face many of the same challenges as larger companies, but without the resources -- money and people -- to address those issues. Many of these challenges are technology challenges, including:
* Larger suppliers wanting to do business electronically with smaller companies;
* Smaller companies having to take advantage of global economies of scale to be competitive;
* Customers want a seamless experience with your company, regardless of the "channel" that they approach you through -- the Web, on the phone, or in person.
There are also inherent risks associated with being a smaller company. A $50,000 investment in technology, marketing, or sales could destroy a small business. In a large company, it's a rounding error. So before you make such bets, you want to make sure you have all the information you need to make it pay off. It's useful to have more than a gut feel when betting the farm (perhaps literally) on a new initiative.