Majority Grade Talent-Management Vendors “C” or Below

 Judging from the poll of attendees at the packed “5th Annual Talent Management Panel” at the 14th Annual HR Technology Conference®, talent-management vendors have a pretty mediocre reputation with most of their customers: 72 percent of respondents gave their vendors  a “C” or below when asked to grade them on how they were doing “developing and supporting their products to help you meet your talent-management vision.”

The question was one of several posed to the audience (who responded via cellphone texting) by moderator Jason Averbook, CEO of tech consultancy KnowledgeInfusion. The attendees’ low grades were further amplified by panelist Lacy Kiser, vice president of HR at Shaw Power Group, who said that along with the rise of Software-as-a-Service, the very concept of “service” appears to have been forgotten by vendors: “Service no longer exists,” he said. “Vendors are focused on their technology; meanwhile, it’s very hard to get actual service from our vendors.”

When asked what three things she would tell TM vendors, Elizabeth King, vice president of global HR solutions and services at Starbucks, said she would ask vendors to stop representing themselves as “global” when they have just one large global client that may not even be using the software overseas. “Be honest about whether you’re global or not,” she said. King also said vendors should incorporate business requirements that reflect the actual ones used by their customers and to do a better job of meeting their commitments.

Jackie Scanlan, vice president of global talent management at Campbell’s Soup, said she’d ask vendors to focus on making their products as intuitive and easy-to-use as Google and to create a true “service partnership” between themselves and their clients in order to get deeper insight into their needs. “That nut has not yet been cracked, and the vendor that figures this out will be the vendor that wins,” she said.

Kevin McDonald, who oversees the HR operations group at media company Scripps Corp., said change management should also be more of a priority for vendors. “How do I make this process so ingrained in my organization’s culture that people are actually going to want to use it?” he asked. “This really goes to change management. Vendors talk a lot about their software’s functionality, but there really needs to be change management to help you embed the software in your culture.”