Baan rammed home its move towards e-commerce at its BaanWorld 99 user and partner conference in Vienna. Whatever the product or service, Baan has slapped an E in front of it, recasting the vendor as a complete order-to-delivery provider rather than an ERP supplier. ERP has become a commodity item; instead, Baan sees the future in integration of supply chains using the Internet.
But the changes at Baan are more than just surface paint. Fresh blood has been brought in to fill the chief executive and finance and marketing positions. Baan is clearing its financial mess, it appears contrite about its past mistakes and, above all, its products are hitting the spot.
John Allen, managing director of market analyst E Technology Consulting, said: "The thin client/server architecture really is as good as Baan says and it will create a lot of interest among resellers and users."
The technology has moved on from being prehistoric, he said, as Baan tries to take a jump over everyone else.
But the vendor has to change a lot of the perceptions about the company. It has had a rough time, even by the turbulent standards of the ERP market. Job cuts, office closures and a string of financial losses were blamed on a shift towards subscription-based licensing deals which are intended to build long-term commitment, make it easier for customers to use its applications and create an ongoing revenue stream.
Baan has been buffeted by criticism from all sides, Jim Mooney, chief financial officer at Baan, admitted. "We have been through transition. Many companies stay mediocre forever, but it is BaanÕs goal to turn this around to global success."
Like its rivals, Baan retreated from the ERP market to scavenge for fresh revenue opportunities. Front-office applications such as CRM and supply chain software are the latest hunting grounds. It wants to consolidate its position as one of the top two in each of the niche markets.
In CRM, for example, it aims to secure second place behind Siebel. In supply chain software, it is gunning for I2. But it is in gift-wrapping all the front-office applications together as an integrated Internet product set that Baan seeks first place. Mary Coleman, chief executive of Baan, said: "There will be only one throat for everyone to choke on."
According to a Forrester Research estimate, e-commerce is worth $131bn and will hit $1.5tn by 2003. The business-to-business slice of that money mountain represents an $800bn market opportunity.
With defined sales goals and plans to increase market share and services revenue, Baan is confident that it will restore licence sales growth next year.
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