Baan Wrap-up

New technology strategy, new solutions, new customers emerge from L.A. user conference

Tempe, AZ  October 17, 2002  Enterprise software provider Baan took advantage of its autumn user conference in Los Angeles this week to roll out a new technology strategy supported by a new enabling solution, as well as a new sourcing solution and pair of new customers.

Let's tackle the company's announcements one at a time.

The New Strategy

Perhaps most significantly, Baan used its user conference to roll out a new technology strategy centered on the concept of the real-time enterprise.

Laurens van der Tang, president of Baan, said his company's manufacturer customers are moving toward build-to-order strategies and increasingly need to break down the walls between enterprise- and supply chain-level systems and the real-time systems on the shop floor. To support this trend, Baan is releasing OpenWorldX, which the software company describes as an enabling platform for the rapid creation and deployment of business process solutions called iBaan Value Apps.

Without getting into the technical details, suffice it to say that the idea behind OpenWorldX is to allow companies to manage key business activities across people and applications by creating more responsive, end-to-end business processes throughout the extended enterprise.

iBaan Value Apps are focused business process solutions intended to remove the latency of information delivery for internal company business processes and between companies in a supply chain. The apps sit on top of other enterprise systems and span different functions within the enterprise and between trading partners. Examples of planned iBaan Value Apps include supplier collaboration, configuration and commitment, and engineering design collaboration.

In addition to OpenWorldX, Baan will be rolling out next year a new release of its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, codenamed Gemini, that incorporates a Web services architecture and that van der Tang said will further support the move toward the real-time enterprise.

Susan Heystee, president of Baan Americas, said in an interview that the new architecture in Gemini, which is in Beta testing at the moment, will allow users to more easily link various components of Baan's offering. In addition, she said the provider had added a number of functional enhancements to the solution to support a make-to-order environment and a more event-driven environment.

Sourcing App Debuts

The software company also said it was stepping up its focus on what it is calling the "supplier resource management" market with the release of iBaan Sourcing and enhancements to its e-procurement solutions.

iBaan Sourcing is a Web-enabled solution that allows commodity managers to create and distribute requests for quote (RFQ), information (RFI) and disposal (RFD), and to collect and analyze bids, award business, and create and monitor contracts. The solution offers workflow for drafting and approving requests and contracts, and it supports multi-site supply aggregation. The application offers integration to a Baan or legacy back-end system.

Given the crowded market for e-sourcing solutions, a natural question is why Baan would come out with its own application in this space at this time. Van der Tang said that Baan's customers are focusing on saving money by negotiating lower prices with their suppliers. "For many of our customers, this is a very hot topic," Van der Tang said. "It's an area where there is significant potential savings, and if we can deliver a well-integrated that leverages everything that we have in the ERP backbone, that's something that customers are quite interested in."

The newly released version 2.2 of Baan's solution for indirect materials procurement, iBaan E-Procurement, adds capabilities for warehouse requisitions, allocation of a requisition to multiple budgets, upgraded approval processing, enhanced receiving and invoicing options, and integration to iBaan Sourcing to initiate sourcing activities for off-catalog items.

A-dec Taps iBaan for CRM

Baan also made several customer announcements at the show, including that A-dec, the world's largest dental equipment manufacturer, has gone live with the provider's customer relationship management solution, iBaan for CRM solution.

A-dec implemented the CRM solution to form the backbone of its new "OrderNet" Web-based sales, configuration and ordering system for the company's global dealer and distributor network. A-dec is counting on OrderNet and the Baan solution to simplify complex product configurations, allowing products with over 1,000 constraint-rules to be defined within minutes using the system. The system replaces previous manual processes under which clients would fax in orders.

"A-dec products are highly customizable, with an estimated 1.4 billion configurations, and we were looking for a solution that would enable our dealer network to accurately configure all orders in the field," said Keith Bearden, A-dec's vice president of information. "By streamlining our sales and product configuration processes, we have significantly reduced the sales cycle time and increased sales for all orders received online via the company's global dealer network."

Baan said the solution helped A-dec dealers increase order accuracy from 12 percent to 100 percent, reduced order entry time by 70 percent and cut order cycle time by 200 percent.

Defense Agency Tries CRM, Too

Meanwhile, the Defense Aviation Repair Agency (DARA) of the U.K. Ministry of Defense also has gone live with iBaan for CRM.

DARA, formed in April 1999 following the merger of the Naval Aircraft Repair organization and the Royal Air Force's Maintenance Group Defense Agency, is the largest government-owned aerospace and defense facility in Europe, providing a one-stop-shop for aerospace maintenance, repair and overhaul.

The iBaan for CRM solution allows DARA employees to access and utilize enterprise-wide customer data from any site in the kingdom, which Baan says will enable them to identify and pursue business opportunities in real time. In addition, DARA has connected the CRM application with its existing iBaan solutions, including the iBaan Enterprise system, to enable sales staff to feed demand planning requirements from the CRM system through to the ERP system.

With some 125 new customers to their credit this year, Baan executives clearly were feeling ebullient as they touted recent go-lives with Boeing, Tokyo Electron America, Flextronics and others. "We are continuing to penetrate the market, and, what's more important, we are gaining market share," van der Tang said, noting an August 2002 research report from technology consultancy Gartner that showed Baan had regained almost a point of share in the 2001 market for enterprise applications.

Heystee said that Baan has seen new customers among companies that are changing their business model or focus to take advantage of the growth opportunities that they see in the market, as well as among companies that are looking to put in place the systems they need now to help them compete better and gain market share as the overall economy picks up.