Photo: Oracle NetSuite vice president for Latin America, Gustavo Moussalli. Credit: Courtesy of the interviewee

By Marta Sotres
The NGO Techo works to eliminate poverty in Latin America, one of the most unequal regions of the world; Ingenios Santos is a Mexican family business that has become one of the largest sugar producers in Mexico, and ATS, are a Colombian online document management company that have said goodbye to physical paperwork. Three companies with very different visions, but they all have a common thread: at the start, their internal management processes were completely manual and didn’t include any form of digitization. That was until their businesses grew and they needed technology in order to level up.

At this turning point, all three companies opted to partner with Oracle NetSuite, an American company whose cloud technology solutions have enabled Techo, Ingenios Santos and ATS to now operate 100% remotely. The vice president of Oracle NetSuite for Latin America, Gustavo Moussalli, explains why technology and digitization have become such indispensable tools for the businesses.

What is the differential value that NetSuite solutions offer to entrepreneurs in the market?
We offer a technological solution for small and medium-sized companies in all industries, consisting of a platform called a suite. This tool unifies ERP (an enterprise resource planning system), CRM (a customer relationship management model) and e-commerce.

But, how does our suite compare to others on the market? Firstly, it allows entrepreneurs to focus on value creation strategies for the company, such as increasing sales, income and productivity, as well as reducing expenses. Secondly, it simplifies all processes. NetSuite collates the data into a single source ranging from a system for billing, to inventory, collections, and purchases. A third advantage is that, not only is all information stored in the cloud but, also, the management of servers and systems is carried out by NetSuite, which leaves the entrepreneur to focus on the core operation of their business.

Moreover, as a company digital is in our DNA, we were founded in 1998 in San Mateo, California [USA]. Our founder, who is still CEO today, Evan Goldberg, was the one who developed the original, first version of our product in the cloud. More than 20 years have passed since then and we are now already operating in every country that makes up Latin America, from Mexico to Uruguay.

By offering such a high-tech solution, how does NetSuite accommodate customers less used to the digital world?

In 2014 or 2015 there were a lot more barriers than there are now and not knowing how to administer technical knowledge was a great concern for many people. However, both then and now, NetSuite seeks to eliminate that concern, which is why our product is much easier to use than other solutions on the market.

When a business starts to grow, the automation and digitization of processes becomes a necessity. It reaches a point where working on paper or with manual records such as Excel begin to be insufficient and an essential technological leap must be taken in order to continue to have control of processes and serve customers well. There is no other way for entrepreneurs. Also, for those who still prefer face-to-face care, we have an ecosystem of more than 70 partners from various companies, who support our less digital clients in person.

Do you think companies have gone from a period of growth to one of survival as a result of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19)?

With the outbreak of the pandemic, we witnessed two opposite reactions in the market: one sector of the business community saw that, in their businesses, demand exceeded supply (medical supplies, deliveries …) and others had to stop and rethink their core in order to start from scratch.

We are experiencing a very rapid expansion of new clients and, as a result of our digital “gene”, we were much more prepared than other companies. The fact is, the pandemic took humanity by surprise and it wasn’t prepared. Country by country, city by city, there was a global digital transformation that occurred virtually overnight. Many businesses that had a long-term strategy planned, realized the need to urgently change and that technology had become key to their business’ continuity.

Despite an initial feeling of bewilderment among our clients, there was still a transformation that occurred in record time that consisted of: an initial investment into new infrastructures (computers, WiFi connections…), a strategy to learn how to collaborate and communicate remotely and lastly, the organisational redesign of each business so they can be managed digitally.

Without a doubt, after this experience, companies are more prepared than they were before and, faced with much uncertainty, they have more capacity for greater visibility and control of their business, and more effective agile decision-making.

Do you think that innovation is stronger in times of crisis?

Of course, companies are now rethinking their businesses, innovating and changing their processes, they are giving more attention to customers and breaking many paradigms. An example of one we faced in Latin America was the need for face-to-face service, for example, when making a sale. Now, all of our businesses are transacting remotely, and so, there has been a major change in mindset.

As a result of the pandemic, and the demand of society, it has become essential to get to know the customer better and to be able to reach them across multiple channels: people have changed their behaviour and moved their consumption online. Many opportunities are opening up and entrepreneurs are already taking advantage of them to increase productivity. If there is a lesson to be learned, it is that times of crisis generate great opportunities for disruption.

In the short and medium term, what key opportunities will open up in your sector and in the market?

We are going to see a wave of new technology start-ups offering new products and services that satisfy new consumer habits. There will be a great opportunity within the service sector because the companies within it will be the most agile when it comes to offering solutions for new social behaviours. When this happens, in the medium term, leisure, entertainment and tourism will be the sectors that experience the greatest boom.

We are going through a time of the 4R’s: revalue, reinvent, react and reverberate. We are revaluing almost everything that surrounds us, from our business to our personal life, and this is leading us to change and reinvent our day to day lives, to react and reverberate whilst looking to the future.

How do you envision NetSuite in five years?

Our goals in five years will be the same as they are now: to transform people's lives through our technology, to help both private companies and social purpose organizations alike to operate remotely and to make their business processes easier and more automated. We want to be the number one company in Latin America so that we can increase our diffusion, reach more people's lives every day and therefore improve society..

Published by OPINNO © 2022 MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW spanish edition