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Jan Baan slices through the 'bullsh*t'

Passionate, crazy old guy takes on BPM

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Interview Database legend Jan Baan is a man on a mission to kill old software business models and shake up IT departments everywhere.

But how is the self-proclaimed "passionate, crazy old guy" going to do that?

Baan reckons the answer is through simplifying business process management (BPM) software, not by building it to last but instead by building it to change.

The Dutch entrepreneur has a colourful past, having played a key role in the history of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. He founded the eponymous Baan company in 1978, which for a time in the 1990s vied for the top spot up against market rival SAP.

But ultimately, Baan admits building components to have different data models under one monolithic model was not without its problems. In 1998, following several successful investments in Top Tier, he sold his firm to SAP for $400m.

Baan, who describes the database business as "the mother of all complexity", has for the past few years been working on a new project. Putting his money where his mouth is, he has pumped €200m into Cordys, a firm he co-founded with Theodoor van Donge in 2001.

Emerging blinking into the light after a long stint underground developing his latest venture, it's hardly surprising to find Baan in good, chatty spirits.

So, is he humble enough to accept the mistakes he has made in the past?

"Of course. You know some people say that 'Jan Baan is the guy who pushed the vision, he was always early, most times ten years before'. We have a good word for vision, we call it bullshit. The truth is I can only learn from my mistakes from yesterday and the pain from today - I'm long enough in business and I’m a fast learner."

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