Friday, October 3, 2014

Solar industry finds sun in NetSuite cloud

SAN MATEO, USA: NetSuite Inc. announced a number of new solar industry customer wins as businesses have adopted NetSuite's cloud business management solution to power growth in the rapidly expanding solar market.

New customers announced, including Qbotix, SimpleRay, Sustainable Power Group (sPower) and Technica, are relying on NetSuite to run their mission-critical business processes from procurement and inventory management, to order-to-cash, to sales and support.

With NetSuite, these new customers are enjoying many benefits including reduced IT costs and administrative overhead to channel resources into a laser focus on innovation, superior customer service and end-to-end business efficiency. These and other innovative solar industry companies, such as Suntech America and Sunetric, have achieved new degrees of agility in the highly competitive and fast-paced solar industry.

Solar industry market has huge growth opportunity
After generating a record 4.2 gigawatts of new solar installations in 2013 in the US, market researchers expect an additional 5.2 to 6.3 gigawatts of capacity to be added in 2014, building on the US position as the world's leading solar market outside of Asia-Pacific.

Solar industry distributors, manufacturers and power producers face volatile market conditions and huge cost pressures. Frequently, these companies have in place fragmented on-premise ERP and other software and systems that obscure visibility into key financial and operational metrics and require high degrees of manual administrative and IT labor. This diminishes agility to respond to emerging challenges and opportunities and introduces needless costs in lost productivity and IT systems maintenance.

These legacy systems leave distributors and manufacturers struggling to maintain optimal inventory levels in the face of constant price fluctuations; for instance, solar panel prices have fallen between 60 and 70 percent in recent years to a record global low of 63 cents per watt as of Q2 2014.2 Companies with overstock are often forced to sell at a loss as solar panel pricing continues to drop.

These pricing pressures add to the need for full visibility across the solar supply chain and balance sheet, as well as forward-looking demand and financial forecasting to anticipate market changes. At the same time, many solar industry distributors and manufacturers have not fully capitalized on their ecommerce potential because of standalone websites that don't integrate with inventory and financial systems; while manufacturers face obstacles in managing and optimizing component procurement and production to meet fluctuating customer demand.

Meanwhile, few power producers have in place software that supports project accounting with time and expense management so that costs can be accurately attributed to a specific project to monitor and optimize profitability for field work involving large consulting teams.

The financial reporting at the end of a month or a quarter—typical with legacy software—leaves these firms challenged to manage costs, revenue and cash flow. In addition, standalone systems and data silos make it difficult for a power producer to take full advantage of the array of US federal and state, as well as international subsidies and other incentives designed to encourage the use of solar and other renewable energy sources.

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