After more than a year of reticence, Baan is ready to speak out. Since its formal unveiling of iBaan as a strategy shift toward a total enterprisewide focus, the company is attempting to show that Invensys' acquisition of Baan is paying off. Susan Heystee, president of Baan Americas, spoke with Senior Editor David Myron about Baan's reentry into the enterprise and its CRM plans.
CRM: How have customers responded to your formal iBaan announcement, made at the Frost & Sullivan summit earlier this year?
Susan Heystee: The feedback has been positive. Customers are looking at CRM as a strategy across the business. They are considering the total life cycle of CRM, and as a result are considering service, flexible configuration in a made-to-order environment, and on-time delivery of products. CRM is not just about products at the front end. It includes providing support for that objective and linking that information across the enterprise. The event at Frost & Sullivan was really just the first step for us in our whole CRM launch. Unlike some of the other suite vendors that are really starting to expand in the CRM area, we've already been in the CRM space for five years after our acquisition of Aurum in early 1997.
CRM: Why has Baan been so quiet over the past year?
Heystee: Well, part of it was really our focus. When Invensys acquired us in August 2000 we made a decision to invest significantly in support and development and get back in touch with all of our customers. So we focused on things like account management, rebuilding the team, introducing customer executives to Invensys and getting their input on where Baan was going--as well as finding out what their issues and needs were, such as where we were supporting their business and where we needed to improve support. We really intensively focused on that, and the result of that effort is that customer satisfaction is at an all-time high. It's in the 88 percent referenceability level, and this is with mission-critical systems running their business, in many cases with CRM, supply chain, e-business, and the whole enterprise backbone.
CRM: How much did your customer satisfaction rating improve as a result of these efforts?
Heystee: It was about a 40 percent increase from previous levels within a year and a half. [Customer satisfaction] is a key part of our business. Obviously, we're in the customer industry ourselves. That was our first focus and that meant that we were going out to customers. We held a lot of customer events across the globe. As a result we didn't do a lot of public relations and advertising around CRM and areas like that. We needed to get our house in order, focus back on the customer, and improve customer satisfaction and delivery. In the meantime we also worked on a number of new releases and have been focusing on building the business back.
CRM: How has this affected your growth over the past year and a half?
Heystee: In the past year and a half we've wrapped up quarter-on-quarter profitability and revenue growth in a more difficult economic climate than what we've seen historically. As we move forward we're seeing very good opportunities to continue to grow the business. We've had more than 200 leading customer wins in North America and Latin America over the past nine months. So we're pleased with that and we're pleased with where the company is today from an overall customer standpoint. With 6,000 customers worldwide we're in a very strong position right now.