'Collaborative Commerce': ERP, CRM, e-Proc, and SCM Unite!
Series Study: Baan and Parent Company, Invensys
In the early 90's, ERP came of age. Everyone had to have the functionality
ERP packages promised. Since then, as Web and Internet technologies have
matured, CRM on the front end, and e-Procurement and Supply Chain Management
on the back end, these packages have come into their own.
in 2001, the catchphrase is "Collaborative Commerce," where we unite all
of the above elements into one coherent system within and between organizations.
This is the Big Kahuna, the zero latency, fully transparent, 360 degree
exposure that is the stuff systems integrators dream of. Is it here? Are
the technologies mature enough? Simple enough? In this part of the series,
we take a look at the effort Baan and its new parent company, Invensys,
are making in the push.
the third of a series of articles on Collaborative Commerce (C-Commerce)
takes a look at the effort Baan and its new parent company, Invensys,
are making in the push.
first examined what it is and can be.
second looked at J.D. Edwards.
Look at Baan and Invensys
During much of 2000, in a series of TEC articles written by P. J. Jakovljevic,
we all got the sense that Baan was in serious trouble. Mr. Jakovljevic
noted that Europe's number two ERP vendor had been encountering sagging
revenues and experienced seven quarterly losses in a row, all stemming
from a seeming inability to properly digest and synthesize the corporate
acquisitions it had made in the previous several years. These acquisitions
were: Berclain, a Supply Chain Management (SCM) vendor, 1996; Beologic,
a product configurator vendor, 1997, Aurum Software, a Sales
Force Automation (SFA) vendor, 1997, and Caps Logistics,
a transportation and distribution planning and management vendor, 1998.
For more info see Baan
- What Will The Future In Invensys' Stable Bring? Part 1: About Baan.
Jakovljevic particularly noted Baan's acquisition of Aurum, and suggested
that if it wanted to survive as an independent ERP and e-Business force,
or if it were to position itself for a takeover, it would be best to,
among other things, divest itself of Aurum and its holdings (only at that
stage when they did not have an imminent buyer!). With both the CEO and
CFO of Baan gone in abrupt resignations, it seemed that Baan had some
critical strategic thinking and moving to do to turn the ship around.
You can access these articles by doing a search on "Baan".
Sweeps in and Clears out the Cobwebs
Invensys plc, long focused on automation and controls for manufacturing
and industrial companies, made a surprising cash offer for Baan in June
2000. With what they were calling a 'Sensor to Boardroom' move, Invensys
envisioned being the provisioner of automation and productivity tools
from "web site to factory floor." They established a new division called
ISS (Invensys Software and Systems), swept Baan under their arm, and started
running at full tilt to show the world how they could bring the Baan and
Invensys universes together.
Decisions and Acquisitions
Baan and Invensys moved quickly. Baan made a couple of moves around the
same time as the takeover bid was happening: they negotiated a strategic
alliance with Seagate Software (now known as Crystal
Decisions) to make that company's Seagate Info their
enterprise reporting solution, and they established a reseller and development
alliance agreement with Top Tier, a maker of Enterprise
Integration Portal (EIP) software.
August 2000, Robert Karulf was named to lead a new CRM division, to be
based in Golden, Colorado. Bruce Henderson, division chief executive of
ISS, noted: "Mr. Karulf's appointment demonstrates Invensys' commitment
to growing the customer relationship management (CRM) segment of Baan's
e-enterprise business." Baan's president, Laurens van der Tang, said,
"This appointment creates a dedicated CRM business unit that sharpens
our focus on this important e-business market segment. We continue to
be committed to delivering integrated enterprise solutions from front
office to back office."
moves in the ensuing months solidified the notion that Baan was in the
C-Commerce game. In November 2000, Baan announced the establishment of
a strategic partnership with Business Objects for E-Business Intelligence
(management reporting and decision support tools).
January 2001, Baan unveiled a suite of products, called iBaan, which is
fully web-based across the entire integrated Baan. They released iBaan
OpenWorld 2.0, including a new XML-based framework as "the embedded
integration technology for its new generation iBaan suite of Internet-enabled
value web collaboration solutions." The suite includes multiple components,
with the aim of delivering Business Object Interfaces (BOI's)
to integrate Baan solutions with 3rd-party solutions via graphical data
established iBaan Portal, designed to provide employees with customized
views of Enterprise-specific, web-based information. They also announced
a new suite called iBaan Collaboration, a set of Internet-enabled
tools designed to support "rapid configuration of open, flexible components
to support emerging collaborative commerce business models." Pre-designed
"collaboration templates" focus on collaboration efforts in the Supply
Chain and Logistics spaces.
February 2001, Baan added iBaan E-Service Remote, a web-based solution
that enables a company's field force with the ability to document field
actions and results on a laptop, PDA, or desktop computer for later synching
with the main database.
Baan is now iBaan, fully focused on the Internet via Portals and web technologies,
across CRM, ERP, and SCM spaces. Every product has been renamed with a
leading 'i'. The list includes:
Sales - Including ERP, Product Configurator and Pricing Modeler,
Sales, and Marketing pieces
Procurement - Including ERP and E-Procurement modules
Planning - Including ERP and SCM pieces iBaan Distribution
Service - including multi-channel contact center, a knowledge base,
the ability to accept, track, and intelligently route service requests,
and iBaan E-Service Remote, as mentioned above.
Portal - Enterprise portal for corporate information for employees
Business Intelligence - Including "Enterprise Reporting" from Crystal
Decisions and "Tactical" Reporting from Business Objects.
Not to be
left out of the mix are the pieces that support the outside world; to
help the universe of third-parties work in tandem with Baan (or should
I say, iBaan):
B2B Server - XML and Document Repository. Can either be used EDI-style
(like a mailbox where messages are stored between partners), or in "push"
or "pull" mode for information sharing;
Collaboration - Streamlined application links along the Demand and
OpenWorld - Business process and application integration levels
Complete The Vision?
What seems to have happened is that Baan, more than anything, has been
organized and motivated by Invensys to "go for it," to go for the half-vision
they were trying to promulgate in the press and the industry through the
half-hearted and not-so-warmly received product rollout of Baan FrontOffice.
It's quite possible that the top guard were, themselves, unsure of stepping
beyond the safety net of Baan's stronghold in ERP. But Tender Feet
were shown the door, and Men Who Walk Over
Hot Coals came in with the Invensys wind. Refocused, re-energized,
and going for the 'Net. (see, Baan
Achieves A Speedy Recovery Despite The Tough Times).
that's all well and good. But the add-on products are not fundamentally
changed from what they were a year ago. Baan still has Aurum at the core
of their Sales Force Automation pieces, Apropos Technologies at
the core of their customer service and support offerings, a fairly weak,
non-real-time field force solution, Berclain at the heart of their SCM
tools, and not one but two Business Intelligence tools from two different
vendors, Crystal Decisions and Business Objects. TEC doesn't sense that
all systems are assimilated into Baan R&D hands and are being given equal
treatment. And, still no native HR/payroll solution, a surprising and
lasting gap in their product line that prevents them from stamping the
"One Stop Shop" logo on their iBaan suite.
applaud, however, their aggressive move to allow third-parties to come
to the iBaan show through iBaan B2B Server, Collaboration, and OpenWorld.
These pieces are welcome and necessary in the C-Commerce world of interconnectivity.
Is Possible - SAP And Baan Strange Bedfellows.
Baan scores a 'B-' on the C-Commerce scoring charts - not bad considering
where it was a mere year ago. I think the kick is back in its step. Now,
there are some clear things Baan should do from here. Specifically, on
the CRM front:
- In its
iBaan Service module, iBaan E-Service Remote is lacking a real-time,
wireless component, something that is being driven hard by other CRM
vendors and is seen as important technology in being able to make a
large step up in Field Force effectiveness. In addition, iBaan E-Service
Remote is, well, focused on Service, and does not include a Sales component,
enabling Salespersons on the road to do such things as access/modify
account information, create new quotes on the fly, etc.
- The iBaan
E-Service is good as far as it goes, but it doesn't offer true interactivity.
Users can diagnose problems, submit new issues, and view status of existing
issues. But it doesn't enable the customer with such interactive tools
as Call Me Now buttons, web chat facilities, Voice over IP (VoIP), or
even the ability to add comments to existing issues, or update its own
account information (e.g., contact information).
We need some
evidence that all the many pieces in the iBaan puzzle play nicely on the
We need to
see Baan place more emphasis on and give more technological support for
industries other than Baan's stronghold (manufacturing and distribution).
Baan needs to create, or, more expeditiously, acquire a top tier standalone
HR/Payroll system, to complete its package.
survives for now, much to the surprise of many. It needs to move quickly
and match functionality with the leaders in the C-Commerce movement, to
keep its competitiveness, and its revival, intact.
future articles in this series on SAP, IFS, Oracle, and PeopleSoft.