Invensys Announces New Division - Baan Process

  • Written By: P. Catz
  • Published: April 26 2001

Invensys Announces New Division - Baan Process
P. Catz - April 26, 2001

Event Summary

A new division within Invensys, Baan Process Solutions Group (BPSG), will be made up of the PRISM and Protean process ERP products currently under the Wonderware division, plus the Baan Dimensions and Baan IV Process product targeted at Food and Beverage, Chemicals, Plastics, Primary Metals, Pulp & Paper, and Cable & Wire industries. Robert Thomas is the name of the executive who will head-up BPSG. Thomas is a long term Invensys executive with a long career in the process automation industry. He has experience in automation research and development, sales and customer service.

Under the new division, sales and development of both PRISM and Protean is planned to continue. While some of the individuals who held sales and development positions for these products left shortly after the Fall 2000 decision to de-emphasize these products by Wonderware management, a portion have been retained on long term retention plans keyed to delivering the Protean 3.2 release. Invensys states that they will retain significant additional resources in the areas of development, sales and marketing.

The marketplace had assumed the PRISM and Protean Process ERP products were basically dead (see Process ERP Market Loses PRISM and Protean). They had passed from Marcam to Wonderware who announced a significant cut in the dedicated resources, including all sales and most of the development and support groups. With the formation of BPSG, Invensys is attempting to breath new life into PRISM and Protean.

Invensys also announced that a series of existing Baan product suites would be added to PRISM and Protean over the next few years. The suites had been part of the Baan product and were repackaged recently into the iBaan suite of products. The product suites include e-business, supply chain and business intelligence.

The iBaan e-business suite includes iSell for customers, sales VPs, account executives, iBuy for suppliers, purchasing VPs, buyers, and iPlan for customers, suppliers, logistics VPs, planners. The iBaan Supply Chain Management suite consists of a series of modules that cover areas ranging from network design to forecasting to plant scheduling. Since these modules were designed for Baan's traditional non-process market, both integration and functionality for the PRISM process customer base will be a challenge for Baan. A Business Intelligence offering, called iBaanBIS, will address Enterprise Reporting and Tactical Intelligence. Enterprise Reporting is built upon Crystal Reports while Tactical Intelligence uses a combination of technologies including Business Objects. Invensys will also integrate Hyperion Financial products to Protean and Prism, as it already does for Baan Dimensions and Baan IV Process. Integration will be accomplished by use of Baan's OpenWorld integration technology. This XML oriented technology will allow integration and consistentency with Baan's other announced product integrations.

Market Impact

Are PRISM and Protean alive and well? The market will have to wait and see. It is difficult to access the market impact of this announcement.

Vendors who sell replacement solutions for the PRISM ERP system will see minimal impact. The incoming executive will determine how the Protean product line will be positioned in the market and, in turn, its attractiveness to new customers. Thomas emphasizes the fact that two thirds of Invensys Software Systems' total revenue comes from process industry customers. He states that Invensys considers this market to be its core market.

Vendors who offer add-on products that satisfy the needs addressed by the plans involving the iBaan products and who are pre-integrated will see a new competitor, BPSG. These vendors must evaluate their relative position and rededicate themselves to the PRISM and Protean communities to be successful in this market.

User Recommendations

Process companies looking for a new ERP solution should place Protean on their long list if the focus of their search is operational (versus administrative or planning) applications. For these companies, this announcement is not adequate to promote PRISM to their long list. PRISM is still a circa 1980's product with all the associated pluses (very proven) and minuses (green screens, 1980's level business function, 1980's technology, etc.).

PRISM and Protean users who are interested in the functional areas announced by Baan should consider these products. Users must satisfy themselves that these products, originally not designed for integration of PRISM or Protean, will satisfy their business needs, that the integration plans are robust and that Baan will deliver as announced. These users should also evaluate the solutions from alternative vendors whose products come pre-integrated with PRISM or Protean. Although the edge should logically be given to Baan because they control both PRISM/Protean and the add-on products, users should test Baan's plans to be satisfied that Baan will deliver what is promised, when it is promised and with adequate long term support.

PRISM is alive for those companies who already have it installed and have decided to keep it. Those companies who have PRISM but have already decided to move to a replacement system may consider keeping PRISM. PRISM users contemplating discontinuing support for PRISM should be encouraged by these announcements. These users should discuss this renewed level of commitment to PRISM to ascertain how PRISM support will bring them value in the future.

Protean users should be encouraged by this announcement. It insures a greater level of commitment from Invensys than had previously been announced and creates a centerpiece of the development of a Protean after market.

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