NetSuite and Autodesk Join Forces for Cloud Manufacturing Software

NetSuite is on a roll with whopping growth and expansion (16,000 customers, 2,000 employees, and 700 partners) and is even now talking about profitability, positive cash flow, and a hefty cash position (contrary to the popular belief that cloud software vendors are not profitable in general). The company’s third SuiteWorld annual conference brought about 5,000 attendees, which is significantly higher than the 3,000 and 1,200 attendees respectively for the previous two years' events. While retail and multi-channel e-commerce was the main theme at SuiteWorld 2012, SuiteWorld 2013’s main theme was that manufacturing is ready for cloud computing too.

NetSuite for Manufacturing
This week’s release of NetSuite Manufacturing Edition brings to the marketplace a solution for manufacturing and product-centric companies that includes a portfolio of capabilities such as production routings and scheduling, financials for manufacturing with standard cost and work in progress (WIP) accounting, inventory management with available-to-promise (ATP), and supply chain integration. While previously NetSuite mainly targeted outsourced offshore manufacturing, NetSuite Manufacturing Edition now caters to manufacturers that make their own products. The offering is still a fairly generic discrete manufacturing solution, but it is likely that NetSuite will make it more vertical, in part based on tuck-in acquisitions and partner offerings.

The manufacturing product also benefits from NetSuite’s existing business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce solutions and many other key business processes now specifically built and optimized for manufacturers. NetSuite's established inventory, order management, and fulfillment capabilities should help manufacturers improve customer satisfaction, while NetSuite’s SuiteCommerce offering supports sales at physical locations (with integrated Point-of-Sale [POS]) and through e-commerce, enabling the easy creation of multiple branded or geo-specific websites and expansion into direct-to-consumer commerce.

In addition, NetSuite and Autodesk announced a strategic alliance to offer manufacturing companies integration of Autodesk PLM 360 and NetSuite’s OneWorld ERP to transform modern manufacturing by helping manufacturers confront shifting economic conditions, deliver quality products, and address customer innovation requirements, all in the cloud. The integration between Autodesk's PLM 360, a novel cloud-based product lifecycle management (PLM) solution and NetSuite's cloud business management solution, including the aforementioned NetSuite Manufacturing Edition, will deliver a cloud-based solution for ideation, design, manufacturing, service, multi-channel sales, and more to the manufacturing industry.

Cloud ERP + PLM
The bi-directional integration (via Jitterbit) of the two cloud technologies, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and PLM, gives manufacturers a single closed-loop solution to accelerate product design and development, reduce risk of errors and delays, streamline supply network collaboration, and gain critical real-time visibility into costing, scheduling, capacity, and profitability. It is a well-known fact that more than 50 percent of product costs are locked in during the design phase. On-demand visibility into component and production data, as well as forecasting and demand planning, shared across PLM and ERP systems, enables manufacturers to optimize costing and pricing to maximize profitability.

Product concept, design, and engineering data in Autodesk PLM 360, once released, will feed into NetSuite manufacturing to assemble bills of materials (BOMs), source components, assess capacity, and more, with role-based authorization across both PLM and ERP systems.


Figure 1


Figure 2

The integration between Autodesk PLM 360 and NetSuite ERP will give designers, engineers, and multi-tier partners as well as other stakeholders a scalable platform to ensure that changes are properly documented, propagated, and managed in both PLM and downstream manufacturing (see figures 1 and 2). Feedback from customers and partners captured in NetSuite’s customer relationship management (CRM), field service, and professional service automation (PSA) modules gives designers and engineers essential insights to understand customer acceptance of a product, assess criticisms and issues, and to adapt accordingly. The integrated solution also supports closed-loop quality corrective action with suppliers (see Figure 3).


Figure 3

This is the very first major ERP partnership for Autodesk PLM 360. Since its launch over a year ago, the cloud PLM solution has gained about 500 customers. For its part, NetSuite has about 60 customers with Arena Solutions, a cloud PLM pioneer, but Arena Solutions’ stature is much lower in the market compared to the Autodesk powerhouse. The idea is also to expand the partnership to cloud computer aided design (CAD) and simulations in the future, once the Autodesk Fusion 360 offering becomes generally available.

In summary, Autodesk can now leverage NetSuite's vast customer base. Both vendors seem to have similar target markets (Memjet being the first joint customer that was showcased at SuiteWorld 2013), and this alliance and mutual endorsements should be a win-win for both parties.
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