Evan Goldberg on NetSuite Turning 25 and Pushing Boundaries with AI

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Evan Goldberg: [00:00:00] And we want to have a user cost that includes all the important technology that you need to be successful. We don't want, like some users, more successful than other users. I mean, we want all users to be successful. And so we'll you know, we believe that AI is going to be built in all throughout the suite. So it'll be weird to charge separately for it. I mean, it'll be, you know, it's just always there. It's a deep part of the system. At some point you won't be able to extract it because it's so intrinsic to your daily use of NetSuite.

Blake Oliver: [00:00:35] Welcome back to the show. We are here at SuiteWorld in Las Vegas. I am Blake Oliver-

David Leary: [00:00:41] I'm David Leary.

Blake Oliver: [00:00:42] And we have the privilege of speaking once again with Evan Goldberg, founder and EVP of NetSuite Evan, welcome.

Evan Goldberg: [00:00:48] Thank you so much for having me again.

Blake Oliver: [00:00:50] Yeah, thanks for having us back to the show. It was a lot of announcements this morning in the keynote. You had your usual just incredible presentation. Every year it gets more and more elaborate with the screen and the and the and the specials. We really appreciate the the specials.

Evan Goldberg: [00:01:08] That's a lot of fun.

Blake Oliver: [00:01:09] I'm wondering, do you have a favorite new Net suite feature?

Evan Goldberg: [00:01:15] Um, well, of the stuff that we showed at the show, I mean, certainly I think Text enhance is super intriguing because just it's to me, it's taking this great advance that we've been seeing in generative AI technology and applying it in a very context sensitive way inside of. Net suite, where it's really easy to access. And so I'm pretty excited about that, you know, again. This whole wave of excitement around generative AI. It's neat for us to really be able to apply it very quickly and get it out to customers very quickly. It's going to be out to customers in a matter of a couple of months. So that's pretty exciting.

Blake Oliver: [00:01:56] Yeah, congrats. I mean, it's been less than a year since this whole generative AI thing has been around.

Evan Goldberg: [00:02:00] You know, we're moving quickly. And the other one that I'm super excited about is customer 360. And there's a couple of reasons for that. For one, it really harkens back to why really started NetSuite in the first place, which is to just get greater information about everything, about my business. And of course, your customers are your lifeblood. So if you can know everything about your customer, you're going to run your business better. So that that connection with why we started NetSuite originally is there and then it's using again, it's using AI capabilities, some generative AI capabilities, also traditional AI and doing product recommendations. That's been something we've been working on and talking about for years, and it's built on our new UI. So it gets us to allows us to get out some of this great work that we're really piggybacking on Oracle with, because they've put so much effort in research and design into their Redwood design system, which you're seeing on a variety of different Oracle products. And so getting that out to customers, you know, in the next few months is super exciting. Also.

Blake Oliver: [00:03:02] Let's dig into those features, if that's all right with you, David, I was going to even step back for a second. Okay. Sure. Go for it. So 25 years. Congratulations. Thank you so much. And so NetSuite has been around for 25 years. Crazy. So I have a question actually on that. Is NetSuite still on the family phone plan now? Does it still on the health insurance. Is it or is it left the house?

Evan Goldberg: [00:03:23] Yeah, I think we've at this point I think you're allowed to do that till you're 26. So maybe we have one more year. No no no we are providing health insurance not consuming it.

David Leary: [00:03:36] We were talking before before you got here, you know, didn't exist. Podcasts didn't exist. These things didn't exist 25 years ago. But you made a comment on.

Evan Goldberg: [00:03:43] I did exist. It was just obscure. Obscure because you made a comment.

David Leary: [00:03:47] On stage how like, things you envisioned 25 years ago are finally kind of happening now. That's so true. This product, so elaborate on that a little bit. Well.

Evan Goldberg: [00:03:55] You know, why do you build business software in the first place? You know, and software for entrepreneurs, obviously it's to make it easier for them to be successful. And you know, a lot of cases for. Small companies successful means growth and. You know. So ultimately we want to provide a system that really can help you grow. It's not just about seeing that you're growing, but actually help you grow. And if you, as a small company, can have this powerful assistant built into your business software that's, you know, seeing everything that's going on and and helping guide you, you know, obviously you're the entrepreneur. They're not going to do your job for you. But like a great assistant surfacing things that you need to know, hiding things from you that you don't need to know. I mean, that is great for a small company with a few people. It's like, you know, you normally have to hire management consultants and, you know, to do this stuff, but and examine your business. How awesome is it that for small companies to be able to have that power at their fingertips? And so that's what I'm really excited about.

Blake Oliver: [00:05:04] 25 years ago, you were one of the first cloud based apps for business, period. Thinking back. Did you get any? What were some of the. Strange questions you got about that. You know, 25 years ago when you were explaining to somebody, we're a cloud based software.

Evan Goldberg: [00:05:21] Well, the strangest question was like, can you please run it on our at our site? Can we just run NetSuite and, you know, in our office? And fortunately, we never said yes to that. Um, that was a pretty strange question because I'm like, but I've seen your office and I've seen your computers and, you know, your computer is like a rickety computer and anyone can get there and, you know, put a thumb drive in it. I don't even know whether they had thumb drives yet. Whatever the equivalent was a CD-Rom and copy your entire customer list. I mean, is that really the way you want to do things? I mean, even back then, NetSuite was hosted in professional data centers with like, you needed a hand print to get in. So that was probably the strangest question from my perspective. They didn't think it was strange, but I thought it was strange.

Blake Oliver: [00:06:11] Was there ever an internal debate as to whether or not you should do that.

Evan Goldberg: [00:06:14] For like five seconds? Yeah. I mean, because, you know, if a big customer would come along and say, hey, we have a professionally managed data center, why don't you host it there? And like, maybe we could have, but inevitably they went down that road a little bit and then they're like, no, we don't we don't want to deal with that. Yeah, you just do it. Actually, that sounds great. And so, you know, when we did all those customers eventually, obviously eventually we're like, oh yeah, the cloud is the way to do things.

Blake Oliver: [00:06:40] So I want to go back to some of the features you mentioned at the beginning, the text enhance and customer 360 Text Enhance. We got to see a demo of that. Right. So that is not yet available but will be soon. Right. Okay. So can you describe for our listeners what exactly it is, what does it look like.

Evan Goldberg: [00:07:00] So you enter a lot of text. Description on your invoice or in your webstore. For example, you write collection letters, you just all over the system. There's this need for. If you're a manufacturer, you'll have often instructions built in to build a bill of materials, things like that. So a lot of text gets written by by many businesses. And. What Text Enhance is all about is helping you do that by making sure that everyone, anyone can go over and use a public large language model to write text for them and to try to put in and go back and forth with them and say, no, I need it too. Here's some more info. I want you to include in there. No, don't include that.

Blake Oliver: [00:07:46] We're copying and pasting back and forth.

Evan Goldberg: [00:07:48] Back and forth. And you know, the example we showed is like writing it sales description on an item. I mean, you're doing it all the time and you're probably doing the same thing over and over again. Okay, I've got to pull this information from here on the item record, or I've got to go over here and get something else. And what we're trying to do, and this is an evolving process is, is use the data in the system automatically. So when you're in the sales description, the system knows, oh yeah, they're going to want to put info from field A, B and C whatever that is we showed today. It would automatically pull in minimum and maximum quantity because that's important information for someone that's looking at that item or for the sales person in fact that's selling it. Why should they have to look all over the record? It's right there in the description so we can configure it to pull in that information. But what's even more exciting to me is that then the customer is being able to go beyond our configuration and say, here's how we want the large language model, or here's the information. We want the large language model to use to build a typical sales description. And some of that may be custom information from fields that you've added. And so that to me is just making it making the the the large language model work better, work in context, work more automatically, saving you a bunch of time. And you know, this is evolving very quickly. And I'm loving that we're showing it on the show floor because the people that are building it are right there, like the engineers are there. So you can go talk to the engineer and you can say, oh, well, let me play with it. Okay. Well, why does it do this? I'd like to see this. So this is definitely an evolving process. It's really exciting. Kind of like the early days of of NetSuite and a lot of fun.

David Leary: [00:09:28] So instead of creating prompts to give stuff, I'm going to be able to have a permanent prompt. I guess inside I'm going to say a.

Evan Goldberg: [00:09:35] Custom permanent prompt. I mean, it'll you'll also still be able to type into the field so that it takes some of that that you type in. Here's some things I want you to include in this sales description, but then it'll automatically add all this other information as you can. I mean we'll pre-configure it and then you can custom configure it to do the right thing in the places that are important to you.

David Leary: [00:09:53] And then I'm the accounts receivable and I'm going to do a collections letter. I can almost create a for that template or a template prompt for that letter.

Evan Goldberg: [00:10:01] Across the board. Yeah. And I mean it's, it's going to be more custom to that customer because just because you know, it, it pulls in lots of data about that customer. And it's going to make it seem, well, hey, we noticed that you used to pay. You know, always in 15 days. You haven't been paying in 15 days as much. I mean, that's the type of stuff we can eventually do by pulling in, you know, some of the information from fields, you know, from custom fields that you've made, that you've calculated and you can make calculated fields in NetSuite can pull that data automatically into your collection letters. Maybe there's some formula that you've used, and then you can figure out whether, you know, there are there are good risks there. We talked about, you know, risk in days to pay. Maybe you could generate custom letters based on some of this calculations that you're doing. And there's just endless possibilities.

Blake Oliver: [00:10:50] And is this at an additional charge. Is it included? Yeah.

Evan Goldberg: [00:10:54] It's as we've announced, it's included in. Net suite, no additional charge. It's just going to show up in your account. You're going to get there. It's going to be that little text enhance icon next to your text fields and have at it.

Blake Oliver: [00:11:08] That's awesome because we see some developers are choosing to charge extra, you know, like like Google is charging $36 a month now for the AI features if you want to keep them. But isn't the whole goal just to increase adoption of the system?

Evan Goldberg: [00:11:22] Yeah, that's absolutely true. And we want to have a user cost that includes all the important technology that you need to be successful. Yeah. We don't want like some users more successful than other users. I mean, we want all users to be successful. And so we'll all you know, we believe that AI is going to be built in all throughout the suite. So it'll be weird to charge separately for it. I mean, it'll be, you know, it's just always there. It's a deep part of the system. At some point you won't be able to extract it because it's so intrinsic to your daily use of NetSuite.

Blake Oliver: [00:11:55] Now, customer 360 is very similar. We saw on the screen a sales record record of a customer and in plain English. At the top there was a headline, and that headline was surfacing some really important information like this customer, it would be good. I forget what the example was, but it was like something for a salesperson.

Evan Goldberg: [00:12:14] Well, for one thing, it said there's a hot opportunity here that you want to take advantage of. And the other thing it told you is, hey, we figured out some products that you might want to consider selling because similar customers buy these products.

Blake Oliver: [00:12:23] Yeah. So so now your sales team, instead of having that information buried in the client record, has it right up at the.

Evan Goldberg: [00:12:29] That's absolutely the idea. And we again, see we see lots of customers adopting our CRM features, especially in industries where there's sort of this real entanglement between sales and operations inventory. Et cetera. And so we think we can within that group that already sort of heavily uses I mean, sales is our most common user type in that suite. That's kind of people don't expect that they're using it for sales, and that the very reason is because we have such rich information. So if we can surface that rich information to make it easier to consume and also find patterns that maybe you wouldn't see if you were digging through the the client record or the customer record that's going to accrue to our most popular user type and make them more successful.

Blake Oliver: [00:13:16] The most common user type is sales. I would not have guessed that there's a lot of them.

Evan Goldberg: [00:13:20] Yeah.

Blake Oliver: [00:13:21] I mean, it makes sense. It makes sense. But you don't think about in an ERP. I mean, I guess that that that to me is a sign of success.

Evan Goldberg: [00:13:27] Yeah. I mean, we built a complete suite. So they really do have the opportunity to use basically a complete CRM system in. Net suite that's intimately tied to the rest of the data in the system. And again, in certain industries, that's the best type of sales system. I mean, you might not see that in a software company that has a huge sales organization that's following a methodology and sort of doing the same thing. But you might see in a smaller distributor who, you know, has their clients, and they really want to know everything that's going on with them, because that's how they stay in touch and figure out when they need something new.

Blake Oliver: [00:14:02] This whole AI development could really be the thing that ties your vision together, that you've had this vision for years of the single suite.

Evan Goldberg: [00:14:12] No, it's it's so exciting to me. And then combining that with our new UI, with these rich interactions that are very natural and that you can just sit down, start using. Net suite, it makes sense. You don't need a user guide, you don't need tons of training. You just sit there and it's like, oh, okay, yeah, you're just gonna be able to.

Blake Oliver: [00:14:30] Chat with Net.

Evan Goldberg: [00:14:31] Suite basically.

Blake Oliver: [00:14:32] Eventually.

Evan Goldberg: [00:14:32] I mean, I mean, I love that I chat with my phone all the time now, she doesn't always do what I ask.

Blake Oliver: [00:14:39] But yeah, yeah, maybe you can lend some of your expertise to Apple.

Evan Goldberg: [00:14:44] I think, actually, no joke that I suspect using this new technology, you're going to see things like Siri take a quantum leap in their abilities, I would hope. I mean, because you're seeing what you can see out there is sort of mind boggling.

Blake Oliver: [00:15:01] I mean, yeah, Picture World, in which I can talk to Siri and Siri can interact with my. Net suite ERP. Right. And just it'll.

Evan Goldberg: [00:15:11] Be like the movie her but hopefully not as dystopic. Yes.

Blake Oliver: [00:15:15] Well, someday maybe you too can fall in love with NetSuite, right?

David Leary: [00:15:20] So you you mentioned that you purposely did not give it a name because a lot of companies, they have their thing and everybody has a witty name. It's Chat Blake or GPT or whatever you want to call it. So you consciously did. Not consciously. Why is that?

Evan Goldberg: [00:15:35] Because we believe it's again, it's an intrinsic. It'd be like you.

Blake Oliver: [00:15:41] Only have to name it if you're going to sell it.

Evan Goldberg: [00:15:42] Yeah. I mean, it's an intrinsic part of everything. It's just part of NetSuite. We have a name. We don't need another name. Netsuite. It's worked out pretty well.

Blake Oliver: [00:15:51] Well, maybe Stanley. Maybe Stanley will have a bot at some point.

Evan Goldberg: [00:15:54] Yeah, maybe. Yeah.

Blake Oliver: [00:15:56] And for those who have no idea what I'm talking about. Stanley is the mascot of NetSuite. Adorable mascot who got. He got married. Was it last year or the year before?

Evan Goldberg: [00:16:04] I think so, and I think, yeah. Now, the thing about Stanley is that he doesn't speak, so he could probably really benefit from a large language model.

Blake Oliver: [00:16:14] There you go. And did Stanley have a baby? Is that is that the news?

Evan Goldberg: [00:16:18] Is that was that this year? Yeah. This year. Yeah. Okay. It's hard to keep track, sweet pea. I have trouble enough with my own children, I don't know.

David Leary: [00:16:26] So the question on the. So you guys partnered with cohere to do the AI stuff. And some part of me is like, why didn't Oracle just build AI from scratch to the theory that would be capable of this? And like, did the partner.

Evan Goldberg: [00:16:42] You know, there's another big company that didn't Microsoft. And it looks like there's another big company that didn't and Amazon. So I think we're in good company. Good point. I mean these companies, you know, have this, you know, incredible intellectual capital that they've built up now. And it's a great time to take advantage of it. And it's very easy. They're building these APIs. And we you know, we've developed this great relationship with cohere. So I think it's just going to allow us to move a lot further, faster. And again, we're in the business of selling business software. You know, they might be in the business of developing this incredible technology. And I think it's a good fit.

Blake Oliver: [00:17:26] Looking into the future. You you presented some really fascinating ideas about what NetSuite could do. Could you share an example of of like a what would you call it, a vision for where you think it will go?

Evan Goldberg: [00:17:41] Well, I mean, certainly what we showed today that I mean, that wasn't meant to merely be, you know, a cool demo or, you know, a cool prototype or whatever you want to call it, that was really meant to represent Guideposts for us in how we're going to enhance NetSuite in the future. So I think a lot of it is in there.

Blake Oliver: [00:18:05] And the part that really stuck out to me was field service management or the logistics management that you showed you were, you know, the vision is a delivery to a customer is going to be delayed because of bad weather. Right. And now NetSuite is suggesting alternative delivery providers.

Evan Goldberg: [00:18:22] And, you know, a lot of the stuff we showed there was pretty specific, you know, it was pretty specific to the area of of functionality and the part of your business that we were talking about, whether it was, you know, your operations person or your sales person in the bigger, bigger, longer picture. And I purposely didn't sort of show this. It really is going to know about everything and make connections between everything. Now that's closer to sort of artificial general intelligence, where you can have this assistant that's like if you're a founder, it's like your chief of staff. They know everything that's going on. They know how, you know, this thing over here is going to affect this other thing over there. And that's, I think, where we'd like to go. That's a bit futuristic. I think for us right now, we're going to be a little more focused on, you know, the different functional areas of your business and making sure that those take advantage of all this great new technology just to make them easier and more effective.

Blake Oliver: [00:19:16] Evan Goldberg, it has been a pleasure speaking to you, and thanks for joining us. Well, thanks.

Evan Goldberg: [00:19:20] So much for having me again.

Creators and Guests

David Leary
David Leary
President and Founder, Sombrero Apps Company
Evan Goldberg, Executive Vice President and Founder, NetSuite
Evan Goldberg, Executive Vice President and Founder, NetSuite
As the founder and EVP of Oracle NetSuite, I understand that a business starts with an idea, but it succeeds because of the people. At NetSuite, we have grown from a small office above a hair salon into a global organization that now works with more than 32,000 customers in 217 countries and dependent territories.
Evan Goldberg on NetSuite Turning 25 and Pushing Boundaries with AI
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