Meeting challenge of e-commerce
ONE of the challenges facing any software company is marrying business with technology.
As Baan brings new and innovative software to the market, it is Steve Green's job as technologies manager of Baan SA to show the value of software to customers.
"One of the latest demands from business has been to make their business software web-enabled," says Green.
"At Baan we have had our applications ready for the web for more than a year.
"The main advantage of using the web as a front end is that it drives down the total cost of ownership of the IT system deployed within an organisation. With Baan products, users are able to fire up their web browsers and connect directly with our systems."
Green says the Internet will drive electronic commerce and it is an important business tool.
"Already we are starting to see web-enabled commerce and Internet shops applications working in the background. They need to be able to work in real time with web browsers and they need to do it in the background as unobtrusively, yet as efficiently as possible.
"Nowadays it is not enough just to have a fancy web site - all the components that constitute electronic trade have to be synchronised with the front end."
Green cites the example of systems such as Baan's being used to provide information to someone using the web about a car they have purchased.
"Using the web linked to a Baan automotive solution, someone who has ordered a car on line specifying model, colour and other options like seat material and instrumentation, can track the car's progress down the production line. If, for example, before the car is painted, he or she wants to change their mind about the colour, this can be done on line and the order updated on the production line automatically."
Green adds: "Business talks about the value web and this is what we are starting to see now - software that can link businesses with their customers and provide benefits for both.
"It is now possible for a company to offer its key suppliers access to its business information systems to view delivery schedules, inventory balances and purchase orders."
Electronic forecasts and engineering changes can also be exchanged on the Internet.
"A business's key customers are able to view up to date product information, plus ascertain product availability, place orders, check on shipping progress and much more," says Green.
"Using Baan software as a backbone, companies can use the Internet to bring themselves up to speed doing business in the 21st century."