NetSuite is offering an iPhone app for accessing its business application software. It's another example of the Apple iPhone gaining credibility in the business world, and demonstrates how mobile apps are a natural extension for software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers.
The app is primarily targeted at salespeople and managers. It lets NetSuite users view calendar and task lists, sales leads, customer contacts, orders, and sales quotes. They can view graphical trends and key performance indicators related to such things as sales, forecasts, and orders.
NetSuite users may download the app for free at the iTunes App Store and use their regular log-on credentials to get into NetSuite. The app, however, doesn't work for some user roles, including Employee Center, Vendor Center, Customer Center, and Partner Center.
NetSuite, which offers enterprise-resourcing planning and customer-relationship management as a hosted service, already has mobile apps for the BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices. Mobile apps are a natural complement to SaaS, since in both instances, the applications are managed by the SaaS vendor with no IT involvement required by the customer.
Businesses that run their own ERP and CRM systems on site typically require middleware to synchronize with their backend servers. any data input or transactions a user makes on mobile apps. IT expertise is required to implement the middleware.
NetSuite appears to be avoiding many of the headaches related to data synchronization with customers' ERP and CRM systems, since the app's functionality is built around viewing rather than transacting. While users can accept or decline events, they can't make changes or add new data, which would require NetSuite to synchronize that information with a customer's systems.
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