Business application vendor Baan Co. NV is ready to get out into the limelight and repair its tarnished image. The company, however, faces the prospect of once again losing money, and risks alienating customers with its strong focus on manufacturers in four specific industries.
After six consecutive quarters of profitability, Baan was pushed back into the red in April due to the "seriously depressed" state of the market, Baan President Laurens van der Tang revealed recently. In a strategy briefing with the press, Van der Tang said Baan ran a loss in the six months ending Sept. 30, something corporate parent Invensys PLC had not previously disclosed. The loss is spurring questions over Baan's future.
Van der Tang's target is to bring Baan back to profitability in the next financial year. Key to the company's strategy -- and its new ERP (enterprise resource planning) software due out by September -- is a focus on manufacturers in industrial machinery and equipment, electronics, automotive, and aerospace and defense.
Baan was a trendsetter in the ERP market in the mid-90s. That stopped cold when an accounting scandal involving false sales records ruined the Barneveld, Netherlands, company in the late-nineties. The company faced stiff competition from SAP AG, Oracle Corp., J.D. Edwards & Co., and PeopleSoft Inc., and analysts were all but writing Baan's obituary when it was saved by Invensys, a London engineering company, that bought it in August 2000 for about