NetSuite ships ERP software for iPhone

NetSuite Inc. has launched its cloud-based ERP and CRM systems for Apple Inc. iPhone and iPod Touch devices.

The free mobile app, now available in the Apple App Store, will give users access to NetSuite’s integrated business management suite, including interactive and real-time dashboards for keeping tabs on company key performance indicators, trend graphs, and other reports.

Currently the app is limited to read-only functionality, but future editions will allow users to make changes to their NetSuite calendar and tasks list page and track lead and customer data.

The app also comes with a NetSuite’s “click-to-call” feature for any record that includes a phone number. This one-click functionality is geared toward salespeople, the company said, and also works with NetSuite records that contain and e-mail address or an address (using Google Maps).

Malin Huffman, principal product manager at NetSuite, said that all organization-specific fields and dashboards used in the company’s desktop tools will also be carried over to the mobile app. He added that the iPhone’s mutli-touch interface and display screen make it an ideal platform for NetSuite’s mobile capabilities.

Johann Schneider, CEO at Vancouver-based i3 Underwriting Managers Inc., said his company is a user of both NetSuite and Mac products, which makes the launch of the iPhone app long over-due. Schneider used the app for part of NetSuite’s test cycle and rolled it out company-wide last week.

“It’s a great tool for us and gives us quick access to our information,” he said. “We can look up receivables, payables, and other account information and see it right away.”

Schneider added that the ability to have the contact information of its over 3,000 clients on-demand rather than storing it on each individual phone was also a huge factor in rolling the app company wide. He said that his company will be interested in following NetSuite’s roadmap for the app and the additional functionality beyond read-only.

The NetSuite app looks to compete with other vendors such as Salesforce.com, which also has an iPhone app for its suite of business apps.

Stephen Drake, a program vice-president in IDC Corp.’s mobility and telecom unit, said that the release highlights the strong and growing interest in iPhone adoption among enterprise workers.

The only concern, he said, will be for enterprise IT shops to ensure that any app does not expose them to undue risks.

“Even if it’s read-only, you want to make sure you’re including drive encryption, device wipe and lockdown is enabled, and make sure there’s some management and policy capabilities,” he said.

George Goodall, senior research analyst with Info-Tech Research Group Ltd., agreed, adding that while the iPhone 3GS has alleviated some of the worries for IT administrators, organizations will still have to closely consider how much ERP they want to push out to mobile devices.

“Of course, this isn’t necessarily related to technology,” he said. “It’s ore a question of policy than anything.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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