Posted by Guido Haarmans, Senior Vice President of Business Development, Technology Partnership
At Ultimate Connections in March, we announced an exciting partnership with Ultimate Software, a leading provider of human capital management (HCM) solutions in the cloud. Through the partnership, we combined two industry leaders and are jointly able to offer customers an end-to-end platform, from enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), and omnichannel commerce to payroll, HR and talent management.
Now, almost six months after we announced the partnership, I had a chance to catch up with Ultimate’s SaaS Technology Evangelist and VP of Strategic Alliances Jim Jensen to discuss a few key trends in enterprise software and our partnership.
GH: Over my seven years at NetSuite, I’ve seen a dramatic change in the adoption of cloud computing by enterprise companies. Back then, the cloud was not even on the CIO’s radar, now it is very much so. Have you had a similar experience over at Ultimate?
JJ: One of my teams is called the SaaS Technology Evangelists team, so named because just a few years ago SaaS was not that commonplace… even though we’d been doing it since 2002. We spent a lot of time evangelizing the concept of HCM in the cloud. Over time, it’s become much more mainstream and accepted, but in the not so distant past IT organizations were doing everything in their power to locally manage every business application companies chose to deploy. That changed however, as now IT is required to do more and more with fewer resources, and is now more willing to hand over responsibility to manage compliance and technology requirements to a reputable cloud vendor.
GH: Of course there is sometimes still resistance to adopt the cloud for enterprise applications. How does Ultimate approach overcoming these objections?
JJ: The objections we see now are primarily around access to the data. They’re concerned that if they put HCM in the cloud, there are going to be limitations to accessing data and/or the application. We make sure they understand that every data element in UltiPro is available to them either for export as flat files, or for use seamlessly via web services.
GH: Why did Ultimate choose NetSuite as the only ERP vendor to partner with?
JJ: There’s no question that NetSuite pioneered ERP in the cloud, and Ultimate Software pioneered HCM in the cloud. NetSuite is clearly the leader in its category—it’s not like there are three or four other cloud ERP companies. It was a natural fit for both companies to partner to deliver a seamless user experience across two world-class solutions and address demand among our mutual customers for an integrated Ultimate/NetSuite environment.
Our two companies have been informally working together for years, but with the user-driven need for simplicity in business software, now is the perfect time for NetSuite and Ultimate to offer integrated ERP and HCM in a complete platform suited for enterprise deployment.
GH: Looking into the future, where do you see this partnership and integrated solution going in the enterprise?
JJ: Enterprises are absolutely moving to the cloud with HCM, and NetSuite has a growing number of enterprise customers as it continues moving up market. The demand for an integrated HCM/ERP solution, since we made the announcement, has definitely been at the high-end of our expectations, and with enterprises it’s a huge addressable market. Just look at SAP and Oracle—they’ve been acquiring solutions just to have something to call cloud-based. Those of us built in the cloud from the ground up have an advantage when customers examine what distinguishes a true cloud solution from the “fake cloud” and hosted applications that are currently available on the market.