Bangalore: Jan Baan is the founder of Baan Corp., a company that was once among the Top 3 enterprise software firms in the world (SAP and Oracle being the two others). However, with the company performing poorly, Baan had to leave in 1998. Almost a decade later, the Dutch businessman is back, with Cordys Software BV, a business process management (BPM) firm. BPM is essentially enterprise software. Much of Cordys’ development activities happen in India, and Baan, the executive chairman and CEO of the firm, was in the country recently. He spoke to Mint on the future of what he claims is a new model, and his company’s plans. Edited excerpts:
Baan at one time was synonymous with enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Things have changed considerably since then. Now you have Cordys. How does this company take the BPM concept forward?
Companies now focus more on functionality of the software instead of how it
helps the business. I had focused on coming out of the database. Today, in the world of Internet, the data is the king.
Indophile: Cordys Software’s founder and chairman Jan Baan.
Thus, we cannot do what we did: we were like a leopard, but soon turned into dinosaurs. I have learnt from the mistakes of Baan. We need business processes to be central again, with software applications integrated into them and the vehicle is the Internet. I am an innovator and after Baan, Cordys gets all the attention.
What has gone into the making of Cordys?
This is a technology firm that is mature and will set the trend (in this area) in the next few years. I have invested €200 million, or Rs1,122 crore, (in the company); it is from a crazy old man with a passion. Now, the firm cannot be related to one single person. We have been able to raise $80 million (Rs324 crore); this is the largest investment in a BPM company.
What does Cordys’ BPM suite offer customers?
Customers benefit from speed and stability and the whole system is transparent. The IT complexity is reduced and (the software) ensures businesses benefits and not complexity.?The?service-oriented architecture is the key, to enhance better performance.
Do you think that a single offering can meet the requirements of customers across industry segments?
There is no answer for this. In the past, companies offering solutions have been monolithic. Yesterday, every (ERP) solution was proprietary, whether it was from Baan, SAP or Oracle. The markets never like monopolies and companies have no choice but to integrate other products. If there is a good layer outside our portfolio, we have to integrate and offer to customers and that is the industry standard.
What role does Cordys India play in your overall scheme of things?
I am an Indophile: when the rest of the world ignored India, I knew this was the land with resources. In the 1990s, 60% of the components in Baan came from India. I didn’t do any body shopping or outsource from India. I used talent here. I invested in a team and continue to do so. We have 300 people in Cordys in Hyderabad who have built a world-class product for five years without one single telephone call (to complain)?from any customer.
Is India a market for the product, too?
If the software is built in India, why should it not be sold in India? The customers here are demanding and want the best in the world. India and China are big markets, but there may be more opportunities in China.
Apart from Cordys itself, are there other companies with which you are involved?
I am not a serial entrepreneur, but an entrepreneur for life. The investments in Webex and TopTier (since sold) have been not as entrepreneur, but as an observer. I have investments in Fletcher Asset Management Co. I am an innovator and the only two companies that got my focus are: Baan and Cordys.