Posted by Steve Brooks, Guest Blogger

Last year, I stood at the entrance to the Arsenal football ground, the Emirates Stadium, wondering how successful my visit would be. I support the rival team Tottenham Hotspurs and it is rarely a friendly place for rival fans to visit. As I approached the venue last year, I wondered if it was worth attending and how, in a single day, NetSuite could convince me that it was genuine about its interest in Europe. For my football team, coming away from the Emirates with three points is a major success. I managed to come away with five good points from SuiteConnect 2015 -- a bigger bonus than I could have expected.

It’s About Who You Are

While the larger than life images of the Arsenal legends on the walls might have been imposing, the same was not the case for the NetSuite team. You can tell a lot by walking in to a company office. Professor Sumantra Ghoshal described it “The smell of the place” in a talk to the World Economic Forum. There is an openness, a friendliness and a belief that seems to make up the culture of NetSuite.

The ability to talk with your vendor candidly and openly is an opportunity that you can rarely pass up. It is not just the account managers who are present but product experts willing to share their knowledge.

Europe Matters

What was refreshing about the keynote is that European matters were put to the fore. Two new data centres were opened in Europe last year. This dealt with the data sovereignty issues that many attendees were concerned about. It proved that NetSuite is a company that doesn’t just talk, but listens to their customers and then delivers on them.

The recent SuiteConnect Sydney showcased a new regional technology alliance and specific functionality such as improvements to local tax functionality. Getting that information first hand and hot off the press is always welcome. Importantly, it will be of interest to Europeans and not merely an update for American customers in the room.

The Power of Story Telling

During last year’s keynote, Zach Nelson, CEO of NetSuite, spoke with three new companies who had taken on NetSuite for their business. Each was in a different stage of their corporate journey. Deliveroo was a start-up founded in 2013 who needed NetSuite to help with its growth. Pret A Manger looked to NetSuite to help internationalise.

The third was American Express Global Business Travel (GBT). Until recently it had relied on the SAP platform managed by American Express. Having been spun off into a separate business unit GBT had decided to go a different route and were looking for a new ERP platform.

Looking back all three companies have performed well. Deliveroo is due to hit £130 million in revenue and Pret A Manger is rumoured to be planning an IPO. GBT meanwhile is acquiring KDS an integrated travel technology firm. That last deal might be one to watch in the future if KDS decide to integrate with NetSuite.

Always Agile, Always Developing

NetSuite is always looking to improve its product. Delivering updates with metronomic regularity and supporting its partners to develop it even further. NetSuite has a true platform, one that provides partners with a development environment that allows them to create innovative add-on apps. Many of those NetSuite technology partners were present at the event to talk to and demonstrate their software. The event provided an opportunity to rapidly understand many of the applications that are within the NetSuite ecosystem.

On stage NetSuite revealed the latest software changes. At SuiteWorld earlier this year the major update was SuiteBilling and while it will no doubt be showcased there is probably going to be something else new.

The opportunity to talk to the partners that are attending and see how one can leverage these additional specialist apps is always useful. The opportunity to touch and feel the software, talk to the developers and understand how you can enhance your ERP solution is not something to miss.

Meeting People

Last year, I spoke to many people. I connected with several and have continued the conversation since. There is always a balance at events between what you want to learn, being entertained and the opportunity to network with peers. NetSuite provided those opportunities in brief breaks between sessions and a party at the end.

Never miss the opportunity to network. Making connections in other companies, peers, vendors or their partners is always useful. Those contacts come in useful in the future. Be it in understanding how their implementation went, advice on how to get started or just to share a glass of wine and make a new friend. There will be similar opportunities this year.

This year, I will be making my way back to SuiteConnect. I am grateful that it will not be held at the home of my football team’s arch rivals but I am sure I will still come away with the points.

SuiteConnect16 EMEA is going to be held at Westminster Park Plaza on 11th October.

Steve Brooks is an independent consultant and analyst. He will be writing several guest blogs covering SuiteConnect16 EMEA.