Wrapup from HR Technology Conference 2013 and SuccessConnect

vegasThis year we had a marathon week in Las Vegas with back to back HR technology conferences and lots to share.  In this blog I will highlight some of my thoughts on where the HR technology markets are going.

1.  The HR Technology Conference was bigger than ever (8,000 people apparently) and most of the HR teams I talked with were buying something. Watching Bill Kutik's sendoff was bittersweet.  I've become close to Bill over the years and we all wish him the best in his new life as journalist and consultant in our marketplace. He created the biggest global HR technology community in the world.

2.  HR Technology buying is up, and more than 50% of buyers are now looking for integrated HRMS and talent management systems. While most of the talent software companies are growing rapidly (CornerstoneOnDemand, Lumesse, SumTotal, JobVite, Halogen,  PeopleFluent, Silkroad, PageUpPeople ), more than 50% of buyers are now looking for totally integrated systems which include an HRMS.

Today only Oracle and SAP are close to fulfilling on this, but interestingly 12% of buyers (according to Lexy Martin's research) want Workday to fill this gap - so the writing is on the wall:  standalone talent management systems are slowly being collapsed into HRMS vendor platforms.

This will take many years to complete, but all the major HRMS vendors (including ADP and Ultimate Software) are now fully invested in building and buying total talent management suites.  A few of the talent vendors are building HRMS systems too (SilkRoad and SumTotal), but generally don't have the R&D muscle to compete in that segment.

3. Innovation continues. Despite this trend, the HR technology market is filled with incredible innovation so the big ERP vendors will never have everything you need. For example:

  • HireVue (moving from "video interviewing" to "interaction platform") is now bringing video to nearly every talent practice, including onboarding.
  • JobVite has doubled down on end-to-end recruitment and now offers referral recruiting, candidate management, ad management, and its own video interviewing - keeping Oracle and SuccessFactors busy to keep up.
  • PeopleFluent and SumTotal both announced very intelligent middleware products (Collosus from PeopleFluent and ElixHR from SumTotal) which bring third party data together to make their talent suites plug and play with any other HR data source.  SumTotal ElixHR is particularly unique because it actually brings context to the data stream, enabling applications like sales training to configure themselves based on sales activity.
  • Logi-Serve introduced a next generation assessment platform which we believe has the potential to upset many of the established assessment players (now partnering with DDI).  Brand new technology with unique and highly flexible way to build customized assessments for your organization.
  • Halogen Software integrated the CPP Myers-Briggs assessment into its platform with a very unique user interface that encourages any employee to understand their own personality and gives them tips when interacting with anyone else (I found this particularly useful).
  • Glassdoor expanded its corporate services and is rapidly becoming one of the top social jobs platform, now up there in traffic with LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.  It is no longer simply a place to "rate employers" (ie. the Yelp of employment) but now a place to "find the best job."  Lots more innovation to come from Glassdoor.
  • IBM/Kenexa introduced new recruiting analytics tools and continues to focus on its unique brand and capabilities in the market. As long as IBM keeps the Kenexa brand and team in place, the company will continue to grow its business in the ever-expanding world of global recruiting.
  • Vemo announced "rent a data scientist" which I found amusing, given the tremendous growth and demand for talent analytics.  (Read our news release to hear more about our announcements in that area.)
  • Visier showed off its predictive analytics models and even more complete tools for talent analytics.
  • Learning tools continue to expand: our LMS presentation was filled as usual and we talked with a variety of new learning companies now evolving learning well beyond "social" to what I'd call "embedded." One of the more interesting companies is Axonify, who has productized the idea of "spaced recognition" - delivering learning in small chunks during the day (even to a retail cash register). These are the types of innovation which keep corporate training relevant as new technologies emerge. And yes, watch out for the MOOC's, they're coming too.
4. The big players get bigger.  Workday's Big Data Analytics is helping define that market and Workday's momentum is accelerating as companies anticipate recruiting early next year. Oracle is now out in force with a very focused message targeting HR executives, and SAP and SuccessFactors have really gotten their act together.

On the topic of SuccessFactors, I had a few days at their user conference and walked away very impressed. With 25 million users and the "feel of a startup" still in place, SuccessFactors is innovating as if it was a standalone company. Not only is the company now starting to "ship" Employee Central (HRMS in the cloud), but the rest of the suite continues to improve with new innovations every quarter.

Some of these include SuccessFactors Workforce Analytics (a more traditional data warehouse but with a huge amount of embedded content and IP to make predictive analytics and workforce planning easy), Headlines (predictive analytics delivered to mobile), Jam (one of the leading social tools designed for learning, onboarding, and other HR applications), one of the leading LMS Platforms (many of the Plateau team are still there) and a variety of other new features in the core applications.

We've just published a detailed research report on SAP-SuccessFactors integration and the scenarios and solutions are well along. Pepsico presented their hybrid solution at the conference, which includes both on-premise payroll and cloud-payroll for remote locations - interoperating through SAP middleware. While Workday's cloud-based HRMS is still several years ahead of SuccessFactors, an SAP customer would have a hard time not considering SuccessFactors for its talent management solution (and hybrid cloud-HRMS) with all the leading functionality now in place. And I was particularly impressed with the tenure of the team and the excitement and engagement of the SuccessFactors organization - SAP has let them thrive and it shows.

The HR Technology market has not slowed one bit and we see innovations coming in all directions. I haven't even mentioned the exploding area of analytics and Big Data. One of the companies I met with recently, "Identified," has now figured out how to scrape data from LinkedIn, Facebook, Yahoo, and other sources to create a candidate database 2-3X larger than LinkedIn. I saw the company's product and was startled at it's capability. This is only an example of many of the innovative tools yet to be unleashed to make HR's life better.

We will continue to stay on top of any and all HR technology - it's an exciting market and continues to grow.

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