Oracle’s NetSuite Acquisition Changes Labor Equation

Over the last several years, accounting firms that serve the SMB market have been rushing to adapt to cloud-based services and big data ERP solutions. Perhaps the most widely used of these solutions is the NetSuite ERP platform. It is a thriving software ecosystem that was among the early pioneers of online accounting software. At the end of last year, though, a significant change sent a distinct chill through the user base.

That event, of course, was the announcement of Oracle purchasing NetSuite. When the sale became final, NetSuite was estimated to have approximately thirty thousand customers. These customers were mostly in the SMB market. Existing users became worried by the sale, noting Oracle’s reputation for poor customer service. Many accounting firms altered their plans to adopt the software or fretted over providing support to customers that used it.

The Labor Market Reacts

The uncertainty had an interesting effect on the pool of skilled labor that NetSuite users rely on. It seems to have produced an odd dichotomy in the way NetSuite professionals view their jobs and future prospects. Recruiting firm Anderson Frank recently released a NetSuite Salary Survey that contains some interesting statistics on the topic.

The key takeaways seem to indicate that NetSuite professionals don’t expect to change positions anytime soon, but aren’t particularly satisfied with their salaries or chances for promotion. For accounting firms that rely on their skills, this data holds clues to where the labor market is, and where it may be about to go.

Near-Term Implications

The survey indicated that at least two-thirds of NetSuite professionals expect to remain in their current role for at least the next twelve months. For employers, this may be a relief, since it signals a low turnover rate and means that they won’t be left short of critical talent. It’s difficult to say if this response is directly connected to the overall slowdown in NetSuite adoption (or the perception of it) that occurred in the wake of the Oracle acquisition. Whatever the cause, it means that for planning purposes, there isn’t any imperative to restock a pipeline of NetSuite talent at the moment. That may not be the case for long, though.

Long-Range Predictions

There was some troubling data contained in the survey too. When asked for the top reasons that they’d consider leaving a job, participants had a number of responses, but two stood out. Lack of salary increases was cited by 48% of respondents, while 38% mentioned a lack of promotion opportunities. For employers, these responses should be worrisome. When the dust settles from the Oracle sale, the NetSuite market is likely to recover and begin to grow once more. When that happens, it’s clear that companies looking to retain talent are going to need to spend more money, and create paths for advancement within their firms. How well they plan for both of these necessities will be critical.

The Future of NetSuite

Despite the concerns of NetSuite users, Oracle seems intent on growing the platform. For whatever you think about the company, they have a history of putting their considerable resources behind dominating every market they enter. For those of us in the accounting world, this means two things. The first is that the demand for NetSuite-based accounting and business practices is poised to grow. The second is that there’s a lucrative opportunity to gain clients for those that read the tea leaves now and prepare their firms to get to work.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.