Baan seeks united front on CRM

Baan Co. NV on Monday plans to unveil a CRM strategy, iBaan for CRM, that proposes users link existing Baan backend office applications with a new data analytics application.

Intended for aerospace and defense, automotive, industrial manufacturing, and high-techn markets, the strategy purports to provide access to customer information across all "touchpoints," according to the Netherlands-based company.

Included in the mix are Baan CRM, ERP, supply-chain logistics and service applications, and a new analytical application, available Monday, called Cross Enterprise Analytics. This product will extract, compile, and present information based on critical success factors and executive information system requirements, according to Baan. Other vendors' ERP systems also can be part of the mix, via APIs.

"I can determine, for example, what's the true profitability for [a particular] customer," said Don Brower, vice president of product marketing and strategic alliances at the Baan CRM division in Golden, Colo. Embedded in the analytics application is Crystal Decisions report writing software.

"We're going to the next level of an enterprise solution. We're taking it from a front office solution to an enterprise solution that integrates the various components of the Baan software," Brower said.

The iBaan for CRM strategy recognizes multiple roles, devices, and channels. Customers can gain business intelligence to help improve customer acquisition, retention, and profitability, according to Baan.

Analyst Sharon Ward, vice president of enterprise solutions at the Hurwitz Group in Boston, said Baan's strategy clears up a confusion that has existed in which the company sold the same CRM application under two names, Baan CRM and ISS CRM from Invensys. Invensys is Baan's parent company. As part of Monday's announcement, Invensys CRM will be discontinued in favor of the Baan product.

"This will be good for them long-term," Ward said.

But the strategy of a vendor trying to be a one-stop shop for ERP and CRM applications is akin to what has been done by vendors such as SAP and Oracle, Ward said.

"It really is very similar to strategies that are being followed by a lot of their competitors," Ward said. But Baan has a longer history in CRM than its rivals, she added.

Included in Baan's plan is suite-based pricing for packaging CRM, ERP, analytics, and supply-chain logistics software together.

Baan also is planning similar unification initiatives for supply chain and product life cycle platforms.

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