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Baan stakes future on consulting

Emma Nash
Baan, the enterprise software company is planning a rapid move into services as part of a major restructuring announced by its parent Invensys.

Invensys claimed that Baan, which it purchased 18 months ago, is now key to its future. Baan president Laurens van der Tang said: "We want to be the leading solution for industrial enterprises.

"We were a software maker and we want to become an admired solution provider, providing all of the services around it. Customers want to see one single provider that takes responsibility for everything," he added.

Baan currently offers its customers only basic services, such as applications training.

Customers often have to turn to an outside consultancy to implement and customise Baan software. Van der Tang admitted that project management is not one of Baan's strengths, but pledged that it would be in the near future.

Baan's goal is to be able to take complete responsibility for a project's entire life cycle, he said.

Baan announced an aggressive recruitment strategy throughout next year to build its consulting business. The plan reverses a downsizing trend that saw Invensys cut 5,000 employees from its workforce last year.

Baan was once considered a serious contender in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) arena but it lost ground in the rush to e-business.

"Baan is saying it's going to focus on a vertical [market]. That probably makes sense," said Tony Lock, senior analyst at Bloor Research. "It's now a matter of training and focus and getting their own sales and support staff up to speed."

However, it is arguable whether Invensys has left it too late to move Baan back into a prominent position.

"What they've [Baan] got to do is get a really entrenched position in this vertical and fight off the likes of JD Edwards, SAP, Oracle and PeopleSoft," Lock explained.

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