Poor old Baan!
Blimey, how many times have I written those words in the past few years. Baan you will recall was going to be the company that finally gave SAP a run for its money. Then there was an ill-fated tryst with CRM, some peculiar Dutch management tactics and a few run-ins with religious types over some charitable donations controversy (least said, soonest mended probably).
But the company seemed to find a home a few years ago with Invensys, which reckoned that it could make the company work again. It was always a bit of a non-starter really. I remember asking at the time what qualifications Invensys had to hope it could revive the ailing software company. Well, now we know as the new management team at Invensys abandons what is clearly seen as a Dutch albatross in a bid to revive its own fortunes.
So Baan is on the market again, but unlike the last time it was up for sale the enterprise applications market is as flat as the Dutch landscape. It's difficult to imagine that Baan will rustle up too much interest from the usual suspects. Computer Associates could probably buy it for the installed base but then CA is always rumoured to be on the list to snap up ill-considered software trifles. Oracle doesn't really have a track record of major acquisitions of this nature. Siebel might be a possibility to flesh out its portfolio, but the why bother factor must be pretty high.
So no obvious buyers, except....oh except - whisper it softly! - what about Microsoft? Would Baan sit nicely in the emergent Microsoft Business Solutions division? SAP's stance on .Net has not adhered to the gospel according to Redmond, so some of Baan's functionality would come in handy on that front. It would also save Microsoft from having to sign up i2 to the kind of .Net blood pact signed by Tom Siebel in the enterprise CRM space (although I suspect that a hugely expedient i2/Microsoft .Net love-in is pretty well done and dusted anyway...).
Of course the timing may not be right. MBS hasn't managed to ship its CRM applications outside of the US yet - and even there the criticism of the application has been pretty vocal. Then there's the equally pressing issue of amalgamating Navision and Great Plains and sorting out all those thorny little channel issues...
But I like the idea of MS-Baan, I must say. It would certainly put the cat among the pigeons...