Baan Resurrects Multi-Dimensionally Part 1: Recent Announcements

Event Summary

In its bid to return to its erstwhile short-lived glory, Baan, the resurrected global provider of collaborative enterprise business solutions and a unit of the Invensys Software Systems (ISS) division of Invensys plc, the global automation and controls group with headquarters in the UK, has lately blitzed the market with a number of announcements. The most prominent amongst these were:

  • Deliveries of vertically focused solutions for some industries
  • Deliveries of horizontal, cross-industry applications
  • Some high-profile partnerships
  • Some initiatives to shore up its large customer base

This is Part One of a four-part Event Note concerning these announcements and their Market Impact.
Part Four will contain User Recommendation based on this analysis.

Vertical and Horizontal Expansion

On January 14, Baan announced its new customer relationship management (CRM) enterprise strategy for organizations that are "looking to drive profitable growth through enhanced customer intimacy". Dubbed iBaan for CRM, the strategy calls for consolidating information from multiple touch-points across an enterprise, from enterprise resource planning (ERP), to product lifecycle management (PLM), to CRM and supply chain management (SCM), and then analyzing the data using sophisticated tools. The end goal is the improved insight to, e.g., understand the profitability index of each customer.

The iBaan for CRM 'prospect-to-profitability' approach aims to provide a broad suite of comprehensive CRM systems, software and applied business intelligence (BI) solutions. The improved insight across an enterprise offered by the vocally touted analytics functionality of iBaan for CRM might be important for savvy businesses that want to create a business strategy around customer intimacy, as companies should be able respond more specifically to customers' needs, wants, and expectations. Using iBaan for CRM, enterprises might now have the ability to allocate their limited resources to preferentially serve the business's most loyal and profitable accounts.

Baan believes iBaan for CRM delivers solutions to support customer-intimacy strategies by recognizing that:

  • Multiple roles and relationships exist throughout the enterprise
  • Roles interact with the extended enterprise through multiple devices and channels
  • The individual view of the enterprise is a function of specific wants, needs and preferences of different customers
  • Roles, devices and channels connect with business processes and corresponding touch-points characterizing the optimal value chain
  • This combination of defining fundamentals enables true cross-enterprise analytics, management and optimization through the iBaan solution environment

Baan claims to be the only company to offer unique analytics capabilities for specific vertical markets and that iBaan for CRM is particularly suited to businesses in Baan's focus markets including Aerospace & Defense, Automotive, Electronics, and Industrial Machinery. By sourcing everything from a single vendor and by taking advantage of the modular, incremental iBaan approach, these solutions can help companies significantly reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) and increase the impact of their customer intimacy strategy and implementation. Organizations throughout the world already use iBaan for CRM and this announcement follows recent high profile industry wins from Hitachi Data Systems, Flowserve, PHI DATA, Barco and A-Dec.

Instantaneous Configuration Feedback

On the same day, Baan launched its new iBaan E-Configuration Enterprise solution. The new Internet-enabled thin client solution should help global organizations in mass customization environments to streamline their sales processes by providing customers, business partners, field salespeople, or call center operatives with an interactive, real-time guided configuration model. iBaan E-Configuration Enterprise can reportedly provide instantaneous feedback on any product selection made, even in complex product and pricing environments, enabling users to compare options, prepare orders and identify spares and accessories through a single web interface.

iBaan E-Configuration Enterprise utilizes the 'Complete Deduction' method to help ensure that only valid configurations are made. This method deducts everything based on the product definitions and the selections that are made, internally calculating all possible solutions that meet the requirements and showing alternatives where a non-valid selection is made. This occurs in real time and gives the user immediate feedback, eliminating errors to provide an accurate overview, improve productivity and help to secure high return in sales situations.

Web-Based Sales Management

Further fleshing out its CRM strategy, on January 11, Baan announced a new web-based sales management system designed to accurately price and configure sales proposals for value added resellers (VARs), manufacturers' sales representatives, retailers and direct sales teams. iBaan SalesPoint leverages iBaan for CRM's configuration technology to real-time product, price and customer account information in the hands of sales professionals throughout a multi-channel, multi-language sales organization. iBaan SalesPoint reportedly integrates with other enterprise applications for front- and back-office, enabling the user to feed sales data from the field directly into customer databases and production planning systems. iBaan SalesPoint models a company's internal sales and marketing policies as well as product configuration requirements in an intuitive visual format that allows them to deliver the product or service as ordered.

Manufacturers might find that iBaan SalesPoint can reduce the number of orders that bounce back to the channel because of errors, while channel partners may also benefit from shorter sales cycles and reduced order-input errors. iBaan SalesPoint, therefore, combines customer information, catalog information, intelligent pricing and product configuration to produce high quality proposals customized to local conditions and templates.

Because users need only a browser and an Internet connection to run iBaan SalesPoint, the cost of initial implementation is supposedly lower than traditional client/server applications, and ongoing maintenance and upgrade expenses are also reduced. iBaan SalesPoint is reportedly designed and optimized for scalable web applications and is compatible with iBaan for CRM's client/server product suite. Because iBaan SalesPoint uses the same pricing modeler and configuration modeler as the iBaan SalesPlus and iBaan ConfigurationPlus products, current iBaan for CRM customers who implement iBaan SalesPoint for channel sales teams should have a consistent data foundation and pricing structure across both direct and indirect sales.

Horizontal Cross-Industry Applications

The CRM product, which addresses achieving customer intimacy, has been the second cross-applications product suite that Baan has recently launched, with the supply chain management (SCM) suite, aimed at achieving operations efficiency, yet to be delivered. Earlier, on October 30, Baan announced its new iBaan solution for Product Lifecycle Management (iBaan for PLM) offering, which addresses product leadership strategy. Effective product life cycle management (PLM) is reportedly a key goal and objective of most of the 5,000 Baan customers who are active in the discrete manufacturing sector. iBaan for PLM is an integrated solution that spans the complete lifecycle of a product from design, to manufacture, to operations and maintenance, and retirement/discontinuation and should enable users to share and link product information within an enterprise, and across the value chain.

Up until now, the goal of sharing and linking product information within an enterprise and across the extended enterprise has remained mainly unrealized, according to Baan. For the first time therefore, the new iBaan for PLM offering should provide its users the ability to support and maintain a closed-loop system that manages all aspects of a product's lifecycle within one virtual, yet integrated environment. Although data remains in place in legacy systems, information can be loosely coupled or 'federated' together to present 'the big picture'. Changes made in one organization can automatically be sent to the affected organizations. The new offering should enable the reduction of product development costs by sharing product data within and between enterprises, increase productivity of partnerships and involve customers more in the design process for immediate feedback.

With iBaan for PLM, each business unit or enterprise reportedly does not necessarily have to standardize information or processes before being able to share information. Organizations can work 'as is' and let iBaan for PLM efficiently bridge the variety and diversity when collaborating. iBaan for PLM encourages continuous improvement and synergy between organizations, not restrictive standardization to the lowest common denominator, while most PLM solutions on the market today require one single enterprise to manage and administer the complete workspace, value chain or value network, and most suppliers do not want to give that responsibility to another organization, especially if it involves managing their intellectual property. iBaan for Product Lifecycle Management allows each organization in a value chain to manage their own accounts and intellectual property as well as define how they share information and processes, and with whom.

Focus on Electronics Industry

In its stride to deliver vertically focused solutions, on November 30, Baan announced its new iBaan for Electronics suite for the high-tech/electronics industry. The company claims that iBaan for Electronics is the only strategy available today to provide Engineer-To-Order (ETO), Assemble-To-Order (ATO) and Make-To-Order (MTO) companies with the industry's broadest range of integrated front-office, back-office and B2B business solutions. New iBaan for Electronics functionality includes support for demand/pricing and order/configuration/logistics/quality/knowledge management, pricing and promotion strategy, product development, procurement, manufacturing execution, production planning, service and maintenance, customer acquisition, sourcing, and master scheduling.

The launch of iBaan for Electronics was aimed at providing electronics companies with the strongest manufacturing capability and multi-national functionality on the market, and at increasing support for multiple modes of production in a single system to better fit their core business models. In the high technology/electronics industry, demand for smaller, faster and more mobile electronics drives the trend of continual miniaturization. Increased costs and tighter margins have made many manufacturers rethink their manufacturing and supply chain strategies.

For high technology/electronics organizations, iBaan offers enterprise wide intranet/extranet web visibility; agile, quick and easy adjustment to business process changes; dramatic improvements in velocity of information and material flow through the entire B2B value chain; web-enabled supply chain management information for both customer and business partners; and real-time integration with advance planning, optimization and execution modules.

This announcement follows recent high profile industry wins from Barco, Teknion and Tokyo Electron. High-tech and electronics is Baan's largest industry group and Baan customers include five of the top ten manufacturers in the electronics contract manufacturing industry with Baan users such as Solectron, Flextronics and MES, for example. Other Baan customers in this market include MSL, Benchmark Electronics and Elcoteq, as well as industrial and consumer electronics companies including Sensormatic, ABB and Philips Medical Systems.

Focus on the Automotive Industry

On November 13, Baan announced its new iBaan for Automotive Internet-enabled solution to extend the visibility of the automotive supply chain. For the first time, iBaan for Automotive will reportedly provide the automotive industry with an integrated range of applications covering ERP, CRM, SCM, collaborative private trade exchanges (PTX) and manufacturing execution systems (MES). This should enable automotive companies to harness the power of the Internet to streamline business processes and improve enterprise management, B2B collaboration, decision support management, manufacturing execution, access to information portals, and indirect material procurement.

For the automotive industry to deliver a quality product on time requires a manufacturing system with advanced planning capabilities to meet customer requirement changes, repetitive production demands, material issues and unforeseen downtime. Connecting that to the plant floor creates an efficient way of monitoring the production environment in real-time to oversee and track plant floor activity for timeliness and quality. The iBaan for Automotive solution supports discrete and repetitive manufacturing, industry-specific requirements and integrated decision support to control the reporting and delivery of information about production orders. It can also automate the indirect procurement process to help cut costs, shorten cycles and improve productivity. Baan claims to have proven success in the automotive industry with over 125 major global customers including Renault, Mercedes, Dana, Hi-Lex, TWR, Magna, Volkswagen, Donnelly and International (Navistar) all using Baan solutions to help produce over one million cars per year.

This concludes Part One of a four-part note on Baan's recent announcements.
Part Two will cover high-profile alliances and some initiatives to support its large customer base.

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