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Baan Is Back With a Vengeance
Its push for collaboration across the enterprise may require some catching up for the CRM latecomer.
For the rest of the March 2002 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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Baan, the once-tarnished ERP vendor, is making a comeback in the CRM arena with an enterprise strategy shift called iBaan. But losing first-mover advantage in the CRM market to long-time ERP rivals, including Oracle Corp., SAP AG, and PeopleSoft Inc., may weigh heavily on Baan's reentry. Baan, now a unit of Invensys Software Systems, based in Schiller Park, Ill., formally introduced its iBaan for CRM enterprise strategy at Frost & Sullivan's Executive Summit on CRM and PRM in Scottsdale, Ariz., earlier this year. The strategy is an effort to recognize the need for the collaboration of applications across the enterprise. Baan maintains that iBaan for CRM offers a comprehensive application environment through cross-enterprise analytics. "This strategy and this announcement is the most important announcement that sets the stage for years to come," says Don Brower, vice president of product marketing and strategic alliances for Baan CRM. "Now, we are focusing on an enterprisewide solution as opposed to individual CRM and ERP projects that we've traditionally been doing. Best-of-breed is on the decline and [integration across the] enterprise is on the rise. Customers don't want to be left holding the integration luggage [that goes with best-of-breed applications]." For Baan, enterprisewide analytics is the name of the game. IBaan for CRM's analytical capabilities enables companies to respond specifically to customers' needs and expectations. Additionally, because the analytical applications communicate with Baan's business intelligence, CRM, ERP, e-business, e-commerce, and supply chain management applications, it can identify areas such as the most profitable and most costly customers by analyzing the overhead costs a customer has on all aspects of the enterprise--what Baan calls the cost to serve. Companies also can use the analytics module to gain insight into each customer's satisfaction level by accessing information from the service and support database, then mapping its most profitable customers directly to their satisfaction levels, generating a red flag when the two factors deviate.
However, there is a price to pay for getting a late start. "What you lose by not having first-mover advantage is the ability to deliver an unstable version one product," says Denis Pombriant, research director at Aberdeen Group, based in Boston. "[First movers] get an advantage by learning from their mistakes. As a result, companies entering later have to throw more strikes over the plate." Pombriant suggests Baan's latest pitch is no strike. "I don't think it's a smart way to push the industry," Pombriant says. "You're going to find you'll have the same problems with a total enterprise solution. When you make changes in one spot you'll have to make changes in another. You'll have a lot of maintenance issues. The way around the maintenance issues is to build a best-of-breed solution based on Java--an open architecture." Pombriant says two companies leading the way in enterprise Java applications are Chordiant Software Inc. and YOUcentric Systems, which was recently acquired by J.D. Edwards & Co. --David Myron
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