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BAAN Announces "Open World": Business-To-Business Collaboration Over The Internet

Written By: A. Turner
Published On: January 3 2000

Event Summary

Today, manufacturing organizations spend more than 35% of their IT budgets integrating disparate systems such as CRM, ERP, and Supply Chain applications. Yet, the level of integration most organizations achieve is a simple point-to-point data exchange which may allow the sharing of customer information between front and back office applications, or batch transfer of supply chain planning information with an ERP System.

Baan is painting a vision of true business to business collaboration over the Internet. In this vision business partners are able to seamlessly share information and collaborate on business processes to achieve new levels of responsiveness to customers and business partners.

"For companies to compete effectively in the emerging business to business Internet economy, integration across the various business domains is an absolute requirement," said Mary Coleman, Chairman and CEO, Baan Company. "As consumer expectations of service and support have changed dramatically with the advent of Internet sales - today customers expect 7 x 24 service, next day delivery and more competitive pricing - Baan believes that the changes brought about by the Internet on B-2-B commerce will be even more dramatic. To compete, manufacturing businesses will need to learn to partner with suppliers and customers to deliver custom configured solutions, while maintaining minimal inventory in reduced timeframes."

Baan OpenWorld is an integration framework built on four tiered levels of exchange:

Data Level: At this first level, applications share or exchange common elements such as customer information, part numbers, and inventory levels. This level of integration includes data migration, replication, and data connectivity.

Application Level: At this second level, applications exchange data in the form of objects at the sub-process level. This includes connectivity between applications and certified integration interfaces for 3rd party applications.

Business Process Level: At this third level, organizations are able to integrate business processes between applications using standards like XML and based on IBM MQ Series or MSMQ messaging queues. At this level, businesses are able to use common process modeling and workflow tools, common user interfaces and business intelligence systems to seamlessly solve multi-functional business problems like Available to Promise, order fulfillment, demand management, etc.

Business Community Level: This top-level of exchange enables true business process collaboration within an enterprise, and across the heterogeneous enterprises of business partners and customers. Adaptable business logic, real-time alerts, and a publish and subscribe communications model will allow organizations to work together, using XML standards-based Internet messaging to react quickly to customer demands.

The first three tiers of the Baan OpenWorld Integration Framework are included in the Baan Enterprise Solutions suite. Beta customers for new products supporting the Business Community level are planned for the first half of 2000.

Market Impact

As Mary Coleman observes, "Businesses that don't learn to E-Collaborate will lose a competitive edge." Baan's move into providing E-commerce solutions, like those of SAP and PeopleSoft, represents a growing trend for ERP providers. As the technology evolves and the giants in this otherwise moribund industry move into price and feature competition with each other, this segment of e-commerce will be worth watching.

User Recommendations

If you are a manufacturing organization that already has, or is considering Baan's solution, this announcement represents value. Business-to-business E-commerce is in the future for most corporations, and should Baan's framework successfully evolve it will represent an attractive alternative. However, it is important to note that the XML business to business environment remains to be defined. Several consortia and standards organizations are pursuing XML (at the transaction level) in an attempt to define a common methodology (See TEC News Analysis articles: "Commerce One Meets GM: Web Now Has A Really Big Parts Department" November 10th, 1999 and "Ariba Successes Highlights Standards Wars" August 13th, 1999).

SAP's recent announcements detail an open architecture designed to connect thousands of their customers within SAP's Market place. Baan will need to reciprocate with additional information in order to stay competitive. Vendors working to establish themselves in the business marketplace arena (eg: Commerce One, Concur, Ariba) have already endorsed open XML based standards. Baan will need to maintain an adaptable standard, publish more data on integration plans, detail possible partners and describe rich feature sets if they hope to compete with SAP and PeopleSoft.

 
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