SuiteWorld 2023 proves customers still don't know what they're supposed to do with generative AI

Generative AI concept art using a digital illustration of a human brain
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Many firms still see no concrete use case for generative AI, according to a NetSuite customer, even as the firm works to expand the use of foundation models across its offerings.

ITPro spoke to Fraser MacKenzie, CTO at home fashion firm and NetSuite customer, Buster + Punch, about the value he sees in the suite as it stands and the steps that still need to be taken in order to get customers on board with AI transformation

MacKenzie likened the generative AI hype cycle to that of the blockchain and said that NetSuite and AI providers could do more to sell the value of AI on a customer-by-customer basis. 

“Blockchain was always that solution looking for a problem and I don’t think anyone has yet developed the killer method of using AI, that it’s such a significant impact from within NetSuite,” said MacKenzie. 

MacKenzie said that there was plenty of potential for AI to unlock value across customer relationship management (CRM) data, business intelligence, or case management, but that more development and clarity will be necessary to convince businesses to adopt the technology en-masse. 

“The question I would keep asking is what is the benefit to me? What is that silver bullet that is going to improve efficiency, reduce headcount, reduce costs, retain customers, win customers, where is that?” 

“I talk to my CEO practically every week, and he’ll say ‘what are we doing about AI?’ - it’s a train that everyone wants to get on, but nobody really knows why they’re on the train.” 

MacKenzie’s comments align in part with the perspective offered by Brian Chess, SVP AI & Cloud Operations at NetSuite. 

Chess told ITPro that many customers ask him what they are supposed to be doing with AI, with some executives confused by the contrast between consumer applications such as ChatGPT and the enormous impact the technology can have, as well as the lack of a clear use case for generative AI within their business at present.

“They’ve read the headlines that say there’s an enormous wave coming, AI is the next thing, and yet they wake up tomorrow just like it was yesterday, so they ask if they are supposed to be doing something,” said Chess.

“This is particularly true for the NetSuite finance audience, they’re saying what’s in this for me?”

Chess argued for more ‘play’ with AI, in which companies are left to freely use the technology within a controlled environment as a proof of concept. Long-term, this could have the effect of winning customers over with clearly defined use cases, he suggested, and help boost innovation in the space. 

In the opening keynote, Cohere COO Martin Kon stated that firms seeking to ‘win’ in the generative AI space should avoid needless prep and simply pursue an idea to see if it works. This, he said, could help AI move at a similar pace to the rise of the cloud market in the late 1990s and early 2000s. 

It may be that until this development is achieved, some customers will continue to view generative AI - including NetSuite’s own endeavors in the space - with skepticism. 

Generative AI needs a seamless, unlabeled approach

NetSuite has used SuiteWorld 2023 to sell its vision for embedding generative AI throughout its end-to-end suite, working with AI developer Cohere and based on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). 

It unveiled a new platform-wide generative AI tool, Text Enhance, in its opening keynote. The feature will be available for users soon, and will allow for the generation of context-specific text across the suite at no extra cost to existing base price customers. 

The value proposition of Text Enhance for customers, Chess argued, is huge.

“We think it’s applicable to just about everybody who uses NetSuite,” he said.


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NetSuite has also used the event to show early demonstration videos of an upcoming AI assistant that can be leveraged for a range of purposes suite-wide such as the generation of more granular business projections based on user inputs.

At a press conference, NetSuite founder and EVP Evan Goldberg stated that the firm had made a conscious choice to avoid giving its planned AI features a title in the same vein as Text Enhance, as it aims to make the updates a part of the suite experience rather than a standalone product.

“We name features in NetSuite,” Goldberg told ITPro

“It's a feature name, we're not naming all of the AI in NetSuite because it's going to manifest itself in so many different ways. But yeah, you know what I think that name will probably go away eventually because it'll just be a very natural part of NetSuite.” 

Rory Bathgate
Features and Multimedia Editor

Rory Bathgate is Features and Multimedia Editor at ITPro, overseeing all in-depth content and case studies. He can also be found co-hosting the ITPro Podcast with Jane McCallion, swapping a keyboard for a microphone to discuss the latest learnings with thought leaders from across the tech sector.

In his free time, Rory enjoys photography, video editing, and good science fiction. After graduating from the University of Kent with a BA in English and American Literature, Rory undertook an MA in Eighteenth-Century Studies at King’s College London. He joined ITPro in 2022 as a graduate, following four years in student journalism. You can contact Rory at or on LinkedIn.