On the sidelines of the 25th anniversary of NetSuite at SuiteWorld 2023, held in Las Vegas from October 16-20, 2023, Prabhu Ram, Head-Industry Intelligence Group, CyberMedia Research (CMR) sat down with Evan Goldberg, Founder and EVP of Oracle NetSuite. The conversation delved into various themes, spanning from cutting-edge technology trends like Generative AI and its impact on the future of enterprise, to valuable insights on entrepreneurship and the significance of embracing the concept of failing fast.
Could you offer us a glimpse into your journey as an entrepreneur, spanning from the inception of Oracle NetSuite to its current standing in the industry?
Certainly, my journey as an entrepreneur has been quite a ride. Oracle NetSuite was my second startup, with the first one not succeeding. However, I gained invaluable lessons from that initial failure, which guided my approach with Oracle NetSuite. The most crucial lesson was the importance of having better business insights. I realized that using your own product can be highly beneficial. While being just one customer is not sufficient, it’s valuable to experience your own product in action. When we first implemented Oracle NetSuite within our own company, it was a significant milestone, and it confirmed the potential of the cloud. The ability to access real-time business information anywhere using the power of ubiquitous connectivity without dealing with complex infrastructure was a game-changer. Listening to your own needs and being an end-user of your own product is also a pivotal part of the journey. Additionally, emphasizing empathy and understanding your customers’ problems deeply is essential. We have improved and innovated at NetSuite by using and leveraging design thinking to develop features within the Suite that truly cater to our users’ needs. Thus, the journey involves engaging with diverse customers and addressing their unique requirements while providing flexibility. That is really key to the overall success of the journey.
Generative AI’s potential is evident across creative domains. How might it revolutionize business operations and innovation, particularly in enterprise software?
Generative AI is a ground-breaking technology, and we are excited to integrate it into Oracle NetSuite soon. The rapid progress in generative AI illustrates that other AI technologies are likely to see significant advancements as well. The future lies in a combination of various AI technologies and business applications. Large Language Models (LLMs) excel in understanding language and data, while traditional AI technologies are proficient in handling numerical data. The goal is to make AI seamless within the user experience. It should assist, advise, and adapt to users’ needs without requiring them to understand the underlying technology. In Oracle NetSuite, we’ve integrated generative AI seamlessly into everyday workflows. Our unique approach leverages the wealth of data within Oracle NetSuite to tailor the AI to the specific context and user requirements. Users can configure AI to match their company’s preferences, aligning with our philosophy of enabling easy configurability for all users.
We have a close collaboration with Cohere, a leading generative AI startup, and host it in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). This partnership leverages Oracle NetSuite’s strength, which is having a comprehensive dataset of business information in one place. For instance, we have already introduced AI-enhanced intelligent product recommendations in Oracle NetSuite. Ultimately, it is all about utilizing the extensive customer data we possess to offer timely and accurate recommendations.
How do you support customer journeys in technology adoption?
At Oracle NetSuite, we are heavily investing in the user experience to make it natural and intuitive. Our user interface, built upon Oracle’s Redwood Design System, aims to simplify interactions and minimize the need for extensive training. It’s designed to be purpose-built for specific workflows, resembling a conversation with an intelligent assistant. Our goal is to make AI feel like a seamless part of the user’s experience, guiding, advising, and assisting users based on their needs and preferences. We have long aimed for intelligent assistance in Oracle NetSuite, and it’s now within reach thanks to advanced technology.
Looking ahead, could you share your vision for the next phase of your journey? What are your future plans, both personally and professionally, as you continue to shape the path of technology and innovation?
I am passionate about making businesses more successful by providing and enabling them with exceptional technology tools. Oracle NetSuite is uniquely positioned with over 37,000 companies, and improving Oracle NetSuite can have a significant impact on a vast community of fast-growing companies that have the potential to change the world. There are endless opportunities in today’s technological landscape, and we believe that new technologies and user experiences will deliver unparalleled value to our customers. I constantly think about how we can enhance businesses, and if I have an idea that can help, we will definitely implement it in Oracle NetSuite.
What message do you have for budding tech entrepreneurs in Asia and specifically India, who are navigating the challenges of entrepreneurship?
There are two key pieces of advice I would offer to aspiring tech entrepreneurs. First, maintain a clear focus on your Northstar, your long-term goal. Stay faithful to this goal, even if you need to make minor de-tours along the way. Always prioritize driving toward your Northstar and staying ahead in terms of differentiation. Do not get side-tracked by custom feature requests that may not benefit your broader user base. Knowing when to say no is crucial when it deviates from your path to the Northstar. This disciplined approach is vital for building a successful startup.
(Disclaimer: The interview with Evan Goldberg took place on the sidelines of the 25th anniversary of Oracle NetSuite at SuiteWorld 2023 in Las Vegas. All travel expenses, including flights and hotel stay, were covered by Oracle NetSuite for the event.)
Founder and EVP, Oracle NetSuite
By Prabhu Ram