Category Archives: HR technology

Recruiters Lagging Behind

Social media is changing the way people find jobs, but fewer than one-quarter of companies surveyed have a formal social media strategy, according to SFN Group, which used to be known as Spherion (and I will always wonder why companies think changing their name so drastically is a good idea).

According to the Emerging Workforce Study, only 24 percent of companies have a social-media strategy — and of them, only two in 10 (22 percent) of companies actually engage in social networking to recruit new talent.

For all of the hype, that’s pretty slim pickings, adoption-wise — even though 85 percent of the respondents indicate they are “somewhat successful” at using social media for recruiting.

For those of you interested in jumping on this bandwagon  — that one day may actually become an actual phenomenon — HRE just ran a story, It’s Personal in our Sept. 16 issue, on some ways companies are using social networking to identify and build relationships with top talent.

As for the SFN study,  it’s fairly opaque. It doesn’t reveal who or how many were surveyed (and a note I sent to their media contact asking for that information hasn’t gotten a response as yet).  UPDATE: Turns out there were 306 HR managers surveyed as well as  2,519 employees surveyed (95 percent full-time and 16 percent part-time — respondents could choose more than one category. (Thanks, Lesly.)

It also has this list — LinkedIn (23 percent); corporate blog (16 percent); company (14 percent); viral video (7 percent); corporate (6 percent); Second Life (1 percent); and other (16 percent) — but never tells the reader what these percentages indicate.

Are 23 percent of respondents who use social media using LinkedIn for recruiting, etc.? Possibly. It would be nice if the study said.

The Vendors’ Viewpoint

My HRE colleagues and I spend a lot of time during the show meeting with vendors, and while some of them seem to want to spend all of our limited time hawking their products (boring!) others are genuinely interested in talking about the state of the HCM market (and yeah, I know human capital management is a tiresome and annoying buzzword to some, but I digress).

Anyway, Charles Coy, director of product marketing at Cornerstone OnDemand, said product differentiation is getting tougher and tougher every year for talent-management vendors like his firm. “Look around the show floor,” he told me, gesturing at the crowded booths covering the exhibit floor at this year’s HR Technology®  Conference.

“So many of us are selling what are essentially the same products, delivered the same way [via SaaS]–how do you stand out from the crowd?” Cornerstone’s strategy will be to distinguish itself from others by pointing out to prospective clients that its suite of tools were developed “organically” (in-house), unlike other vendors, who are assembling suites by going out and purchasing other vendors and integrating their products. “Our products run on the same data platform,” said Coy. “I may be wrong, but I do think that’s a differentiator.”

Coy also chatted at length about the Cornerstone Foundation, a nonprofit foundation created by his firm which — among other things — donates free Cornerstone software to outfits like Teach for America and various charities. “Nonprofits are really underserved in this area,” he said. Interesting …

Michael Custers and Brad Everett of Northgate Arinso chatted about their firm, which recently completed its purchase of Convergys Corp.’s HR business-process outsourcing operations, which makes them one of the largest such vendors in North America, putting them in direct competition with the folks at Hewitt, IBM and Accenture. “We’re a global firm, not US-centric, and we think that will differentiate us,” said Everett.

Over at Saba, they’re feeling pretty confident that collaboration as an actual, workable reality (as opposed to a topic that no one but industry analysts is talking about) is finally taking off, said Yvette Cameron, vice president and general manager. 

“HR people are really starting to drive collaboration and networking within their organizations, and we think that’s great–we want to see them get out in front of this, not hang back and let other departments take the lead,” she told me. Yvette has some self-interest at stake, of course: Saba’s just  introduced Saba People Systems, a suite of collaboration, learning and performance applications that’s designed to “power up the individuals in the organization.” Hmmmmm …  

Meanwhile, Successfactors and Workday are vigorously going after the core HR systems market, with Successfactors asserting that the market is eager for core HR products from best-of-breed vendors. Successfactors can indeed boast of winning over giant technology firm EMC, which is replacing its PeopleSoft enterprise system with SuccessFactors’ EmployeeCentral product for core HR.

And Workday is continuing to go after the large-enterprise market, having used the show to demonstrate how Flextronics (which itself is practially the size of a small country) is one of the small-but-growing cadre of big corporations that are moving away from ERP to SaaS-based enterprise systems.

And what about the regular stream of software updates that SaaS customers receive–which, if you’re a large and complex organization like Flextronics, can wreak havoc on your internal processes?

 “We’re getting much more proactive at communication, letting our customers know ahead of time what these updates will do so they can make sure nothing gets messed up,” said Workday’s Andy McCarthy. Interesting times. We’ll see how things look next year in Las Vegas, where the 2011 HR Technology®  Conference will be held at the Mandalay Bay resort.

Are We Ever Going to Learn the TM Lesson?

Perhaps the two most striking observations by this attendee while sitting in the HR Technology® Conference’s “Fourth Annual Talent Management Panel” were that the message was still the  same as in past years — know your business and its goals before you buy — and that the room was still just as crowded, with a standing-room-only crowd lining the walls.

Clearly, the message has yet to be fully absorbed. Consider the second half of the session’s title: “How Talent Management Failed and How to Fix It.” For such a panel discussion to draw this kind of crowd, the pain points around integrated-TM failures and fears of failures are still pretty acute.

Guided by moderator Jason Averbook, co-founder and CEO of Knowledge Infusion, each of the four panelists — Mary Beth Drake, vice president of HR planning and services for The McGraw-Hill Cos.; James Dwyer, vice president of HR operations and service delivery for MetLife; David Klein, manager of co-worker services technology for CDW; and Michael Peterman, director of HR administration for the Four Seasons hotel company — pulled no punches in relaying their pains. All four, as billed, had failures to share.

By varying degrees, those failures sounded similar: inabilities to put infrastructures in place before entertaining vendor bids; no core data, such as skills and competencies, business goals, etc., gathered beforehand to build a system on; allowing vendors to make incorrect assumptions that their would-be clients had their houses in order; the list goes on.

And by varying degrees, the warnings resonated with ones issued to standing-room-only crowds of the past: know your business goals going in, know what you want the tools to do before taking them on, make sure everyone in the organization is speaking the same talent-management language.

And this gem from Dwyer: “”We drank the magic juice from the vendors and let them convince us they could solve all our issues. Don’t drink the punch.”

To put it “shortly and sweetly,” said Peterman, “we weren’t ready to implement a talent-management system [several years ago]. Make sure you have your house in order and make sure your data is very clean.”

He went on to describe the scope of his company’s failed attempt to streamline and perfect its TM strategies among 85 hotels in 38 countries and some 35,000 employees. “We basically broke perfectly fine software by not reconfiguring it properly to meet our needs and business architecture. It’s kind of a mess right now at Four Seasons.”

For years, said Drake, “every time we would talk about talent management, we’d talk about five or 10 minutes about business strategy and then start looking for vendors. The business-strategy discussion needs much more time and focus.”

“At the end of the day,” she added, “know what you’re after and what the vendors are after. Know what the vendors can do and what they can’t do.” No one vendor can do all aspects of the talent-management space perfectly, she added. “No one can do it all.”

It’ll be interesting to see where these echoed warnings land, and whether integrated TM will ever be the success story that was anticipated some five or so years ago. Let me just say that when Averbook asked for a show of hands from totally satisfied customers, only one hand in that sea of people was raised.

So You Want to Be a Blogger?

Among the many firsts at this year’s HR Technology® Conference is the first-ever Blogger Insight panel.

For those toying with the idea of launching their own blog, the five bloggers comprising the panel – Bryon Abramowitz, Mike Krupa, Trish McFarlane, Laurie Ruettimann and Kris Dunn (who served as the moderator) – offered attendees some practical advice.

The panelists seemed to agree on a number of fronts, including the need to find your own voice. “All five of us have very different approaches,” Dunn said.

Not everyone agreed, however, on what limits, if any, should be set on that voice.

“Be reasonable, do what makes sense,” said Abramowitz, a blogger who is HR technology practice leader at Baker Tilly. “Don’t put things out there that reflect badly on the company.”

Posting something inappropriate not only reflects badly on your company, he said, but could hurt your personal brand as well.

Ruettimann, however, had a somewhat different take.

“Some of us in the room are human and screw up on a daily basis,” said Ruettimann, president of New Media Services and the creator of the Punk Rock HR blog. “If you can’t use Facebook to post [certain] pictures, where is the joy in life? Sure, your blog is an extension of your human brand and is an extension of your human resources department, but you’re also human.”

Even though a record number of bloggers attended HR Technology® Conference in 2010, I suppose the conference should brace for even more in 2011. When Dunn asked how many attendees in the room were considering doing a blog, roughly one-third of those in the room raised their hand.

Data Predicts Uptick in Spending

Nice to see encouraging news coming from CedarCrestone’s HR Systems Survey, which was officially released at this year’s HR Technology® Conference.

According to CedarCrestone, there should be a nice uptick in HR technology spending in the next few years, with  respondents forecasting 100-percent growth in talent management, social media and analytics/planning applications.

The study, sprearheaded by Director of Research Lexy Martin, also found Software as a Service is continuing to gain momentum, with much stronger growth than what was forecasted in 2009.

(At the same time, the study found companies that utilized talent analytics, on a whole, outperformed those that didn’t.)

Of course, none of this comes as a huge surprise, considering the strong attendance at this year’s event (around 2,500) and the positive mood that seems to permeate the sessions and show floor. But it’s still good to see meaningful data that suggests many companies are either spending on HR technology again or soon will be.

Erickson Opens Conference with a Call to Embrace the Times

As the opening keynote speaker for the 13th annual, and largest-ever, HR Technology Conference® and Exposition in Chicago, Tamara Erickson — collaboration and innovation expert, blogger and author of numerous books on generational evolutions in the workplace — got things rolling with an inspiring look at where technology’s taken us from the beginning of man to where it’s now taking American businesses.

That is, if they’re savvy and open enough to evolve.

Starting with the caveman’s need to share ideas  in order to make the very first tools and taking us through the 20th century corporate organizational model where “we had to make enough stuff at good-enough quality and low-enough costs to sustain the company and help it prosper,” she said,  “now, this century, if you can’t figure out how to tap into the knowledge and ideas of customers and employees … and do [the latter] on a more horizontal org. chart,” she said, you won’t make it.

Challenging listeners to adopt an entire new approach to employment; that is, away from expecting employees to perform because you pay them and into a model where you need to entice them to expend “discretionary effort,” she said, Erickson listed off numerous companies that are starting to adapt: Best Buy, Deloitte, Rypple, Kraft Food, the list went on.

But most companies, she said, are still stuck in the old way. “They’re not providing the technologies and investing in the tools so employees will choose to innovate,” she said.

“You have to invest in their discretionary effort,” Erickson said. “Now is the time for the combination of to invest in their discretionary effort,” Erickson said. “Now is the time for the combination of technology and HR. This time is ripe. HR holds the key to the next step change in our organizational technologies.”

Taleo Acquires

In a fragmented market — that often leaves large corporations depending on providers who were “essentially small companies,” this acquisition will accelerate market consolidation and expand the size of the learning management systems market, according to a blogpost by Josh Bersin, an LMS expert.

 The acquisition, for about $125 million in cash, will also help integrate learning management with the entire talent-management system, Bersin writes, noting that:

 “While all the integration between and Taleo has yet to be done, Taleo has a track record of doing what it says it will do – and over time Taleo will likely deliver a seamless solution which integrates recruiting, performance management, succession, development planning, and learning management.”

And the Mergers (Uh, Make that ‘Acquisitions’) Continue …

… with today’s announcement that Kenexa will acquire

HR technology expert Bill Kutik, who writes a monthly column for HREOnline as well as co-chairs our annual — and upcoming HR Technology® Conference — has the following reaction:

“Kenexa has long sought a Compensation Management solution to round out its suite of Talent Management applications. Even though started life selling compensation surveys to corporations (and radically, even to individual applicants!), it has developed a strong market reputation for Compensation Management software and subscriptions for it have represented a substantial part of its revenue.

 “Recently tried to widen its footprint, as outlined in February, and clearly some of those were mistakes, including its acquisition and then sale of Genesys, one of our mainframe HRMS providers. The CEO and founder left between those two events.

“The largest question remaining is how quickly Kenexa can integrate Salary’s software onto its new 2x platform, which is already used for Kenexa BrassRing for recruiting and its existing large-company Performance.

 “On the Wall Street conference call Wednesday morning (both Salary and Kenexa are public companies), CEO Rudy Karsan said that could “take years.” But maybe sooner.”

News on the M&A Front

Two items of note for HR leaders on the M&A front today: ADP completes its acquisition of Workscape, while one of the legal restrictions possibly hampering the merger of Aon and Hewitt disappears. [Duh: I wrote Workday earlier by mistake.]

 As for ADP/Workscape: Carlos Rodriguez, president of ADP National Account Services and Employer Services International, says the “strategic and cultural fit between ADP and Workscape is compelling, and will be extremely complementary in terms of services.”

 He notes that “an integral part of ADP’s growth strategy is expanding our benefits and talent-management portfolio and the strategic acquisition of a well-established player such as Workscape represents a significant step in that effort.”

 In the Hewitt/Aon merger, the organizations announced that the anti-trust waiting period had expired. The deal is still pending approval by stockholders and foreign regulatory officials. We previously wrote about the merger here.

 UPDATE: Make that three items of note … as Monster completes its acquisition of Yahoo! HotJobs and enters into a three-year agreement to provide career and job content to the Yahoo! home page. 


A Goliath Gets Even Bigger

ADP’s recently announced acquisition of Workscape, a provider of compensation-planning tools, will be “hugely disruptive” to the talent management marketplace, says Josh Bersin, CEO of Bersin Associates, who was briefed on the deal by ADP earlier today.

The acquisition will enable ADP, the $9 billion provider of HR, payroll and ben. admin. services to 570,000 clients throughout the U.S. and the world, to offer Workscape’s world-class compensation planning tools to the thousands upon thousands of small-to-medium-sized companies that already use ADP for payroll processing.

ADP already distributes Cornerstone OnDemand’s suite of performance management and succession planning tools. The Workscape acquisition (ADP did not disclose the terms of the deal) will enable the Roseland, N.J.-based behemoth to gobble up an even bigger share of the TM marketplace by reaching out to the vast number of mid-sized firms that are just starting to focus on talent management, he says.

“The compensation-management platform from Workscape is the most sophisticated of its kind out there,” says Bersin. “If ADP is already providing payroll services, not to mention performance management [through Cornerstone] to these companies, and now they can sell comp planning as well, they’re going to have a huge leg up on other TM vendors. ”

ADP may also be able to differentiate itself from other software vendors through its  pricing, says Bersin.

“They get paid by their clients via a monthly charge, on a per-employee, per-check basis,” he says. “My guess is, they’ll embed the Workscape services into that monthly charge, just adding to it slightly, which will enable them to price it in a way that a typical software company could never price it. This will help them gain a lot of market share.”

“The big question is how aggressive ADP will get with it–how well will they train their salesforce and how heavily they’ll promote it,” says Bersin.

“I like to think of ADP as the General Electric of the software industry–they don’t think of it as tools, but as a business,” he adds. “When they buy a company, they look at how rapidly they can integrate it into their sales organization and sell it. I think they’re going to get a lot of traction, and other vendors–especially in the mid-sized market that ADP sells into–they’re going to have to deal with ADP.”