The rise and fall of JBA software - AS400 ERP System21

JBA was one of the world’s leading business software providers in the early 1990's. Based in Birmingham, it had offices nationwide due to explosive growth through the late 80's and early 1990's.

Founded in 1981 by two former IBM employees, JBA focused on developing business applications for the System38 and later the AS/400. Its flagship offering was System21, an enterprise wide management package that included modules for accounting, order processing, logistics, manufacturing, customer service warehousing solutions for anyone using AS400 systems. Complemented by unique solutions for specific industries, System 21 also gave many of the world’s leading food, automotive, drinks, style and service management companies the competitive advantage they needed in the nineties.

JBA’s ERP solutions were distinguished by their high functionality and closeness of fit to customer requirements. JBA was one of the first global ERP suppliers to provide industry sector specific products based on a standard commercial product set. These industry sector products contained many thousands of man years’ research and development which JBA went on to try to break down into a more component based technology.

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In a 1995 report, the Gartner Group consultancy cited JBA's efforts to release graphical modules of its System 21 product as key to the vendor's ability to advance in the enterprise resource planning market.

During this time, the computer industry was separating into two distinctly different market places (a) larger companies who wanted to install and maintain themselves and (b) smaller companies who want a ‘one stop shop’ for hardware, software and middleware:

To meet these requirement JBA formed two dedicated divisions to focus on each area.

Software Solution Division comprised teams focused on selling software solutions primarily to larger companies, JBA's traditional marketplace.

Computer Solution Division comprises teams principally in North America focused on the ‘one stop shop’ with over 200 affiliates having front line customer responsibility and JBA being the second tier supplier of both hardware and software to them.

At the end of 1997 there were approx 3,000 people employed by the group worldwide and JBA was awarded the IBM AS/400 Star Stream Award for its integration of Lotus Domino with System 21 ERP. JBA was one of IBM’s largest strategic Business Partners worldwide, an IBM Premier Solution Provider, IBM Distributor, IBM Global Financing Partner and Lotus Notes Business Partner.

In 1999, JBA was was acquired by Geac Computer Corporation, a Canadian company for $137 million. JBA offices were cut back and the it's inhouse development was curtailed. No fruther release of JBA System21 were to appear.

The final release of JBA System 21 was 3.5.2

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hint - check out INFOR and AURORA  ;)

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