If the mere mention of enterprise business management and client-server software systems gets you tingly all over, you probably already know all about the ill-fated Dutch software company, Baan. If not, you might be a little out of the loop on 1990s tech moguls – like the rest of us.
To dig in to the "what the Baan system was and what it has evolved into," let's jump into the wayback machine – the good news is, our little tech trip back in time will eventually end up right here in the present, with the modern-day Infor LN system.
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The History of Baan
Paul and Jan Baan of Barneveld (in the Netherlands province of Gelderland) founded Baan in 1978 as an early rival to Silicon Valley tech companies, among the first founded by American venture capital. A producer of software meant for internal corporate use, Baan reached the height of its popularity (and profitability) circa 1994 though 1997. This peak coincided with the rise of Baan's corporate data-processing software, collectively known as the Baan system or Baan ERP (enterprise resource planning), which scored big when it was picked up for use by Boeing in '94. Baan went public in 1995 and pursued a business model based around adding more accessory programs to the Baan ERP suite, hoping for long-term, ultra-profitable "white whale" accounts.
By 1998, though – after purchasing nine other software companies, including Aurum Software and Coda – Baan's stock had collapsed due to a combination of the international tech boom cooling down and numerous cases of top-level mismanagement. The founders flew the coop and Baan went under, wrapped up in lawsuits regarding insider trading. That same year, the British Ivensys PLC purchased Baan and its remaining employees for $700 million.
Baan System Features
At its core, the Baan software suite focused on corporate record keeping and administrative services. Initially known as Triton, Baan was a modular software suite, offering numerous small programs that companies could purchase to suit their individual needs. Baan programs could aid in manufacturing and distribution, financial calculation, project estimates and management applications.
Features of the software varied across numerous versions and, in Baan's early days, the company's programmers could even customize the software to suit the needs of specific clients. However, one of the keys to Baan's success was creating an off-the-shelf, core version of Baan ERP software that could be used on standard computing systems. This was initially powered by the Unix operating system in the early 1980s, which helped make the software platform-independent. Later, the software would become compatible with Windows platforms, too.
Baan's bloodline didn't end with Invensys PLC. In 2003, Invensys offloaded the company to SSA Global Technologies, another enterprise software company. Three years later, SSA Global was acquired by Infor Global Solutions for $19.50 per share, or about $1.4 billion.
In 2018, Baan lives on as Infor LN from Infor Global Solutions. This software focuses on synchronizing materials and manufacturing operations, helping corporations configure mass-production lines, sequencing and order processes for boosted efficiency. Infor LN performs record-keeping operations, just like the original Baan, by keeping track of things like warranty claims, end-of-life recycling, refurbishing and service plans for previously manufactured products.