As an idealistic young man a preacher repeated something in a meeting I have never forgotten. He said:
“It is not what you are but what you will be.”
The pimply faced adolescents loved the message. There was a great future ahead and it was exciting beyond the tribulations of teenage angst.
This is a message I would like to give to HR technology vendors. When looking at competitors consider “it is not what they are but what they will be!”
This week HR analyst Josh Bersin released some interesting research after a one year study of talent management systems summarizing that Talent Management suites are not compelling applications.
I agree and would contend the reason is not just the user interface and customer experience that Bersin talks about but more fundamental.
Most talent management suites are based on a model that digitized and incrementally improved existing HR processes. These processes were previously paper based and never really worked and never really will. They are based on a mangement model. Not a leadership model. They even call it that: Human Capital Management/Talent Management. Clearly they help organisations but as Bersin said they are not compelling. Users comply with the system but they are not part of day to day work. Importantly as time goes I believe they will be less compelling.
The Bersin report goes onto say. This research shows that talent management software does not directly create or drive improvements in business performance. What does drive performance (revenue per employee, retention, productivity) are the practices themselves. Career development, accountability, goal transparency, feedback, coaching, development planning and leadership development are listed as practices that do impact on performance.
Just before Christmas I read a blog from leading HRC vendor Taleo. They reviewed the Salesforce acquisition of Rypple by Salesforce. Read it here:
It was awesome. In Australia we call it “having a crack”. Basically the experienced product developer from Taleo said Rypple was not even half a talent management Suite but curiously also lumped social into the tirade. “Social smocial” was the gist of it. The key point is the Taleo system is integrated.
Incredible! Is it possible that Taleo do not get social? To me it is the lifeblood and backbone of our future HR industry. Remember “it is not what you are but what you will be!”. Can Taleo reasonably be around in 5 years time without a HR social backbone? Taleo went onto say that HR social did not exist as an entity. Bersin says 6% of talent management customers use the talent management social products so yes that makes sense for a current vendor to say that. If you believe in social though the market is wide open.
The value proposition is simple. Social HR (by that I mean Talent and HR apps delivered in an internal social network) will deliver the practices talked about by Bersin better than traditional tech. Not by a little. By a lot. The evolution of HR tech started from hard copy forms and traditional command and control cascading of processes.
Social HR can finally deliver simple, scalable tools that allow these critical HR practices to flourish by the users. The people. Not HR. A compelling suite.
So where are these killer apps that Taleo should be worried about? Clearly Rypple has not rocked the pond according to Taleo but has recently released social goals and has social recognition and feedback in place. Interestingly Rypple also needed a Chatter or Jive to grow but now has the framework/backbone to grow an integrated suite.
The answer to where are the killer apps? On the way. By a multitude of vendors including start ups. The growth of mobile and tablet infrastructure will help especially to workers who have not been easy customers for HR tech vendors to satisfy. There are cool start ups each with components and a wealth of consumer apps that would revolutionize the enterprise market. This revolution will happen.
So if you were an ambitious enterprise player (look at IBM) or even a cheeky start up tech vendor like Yackstar – would you try and patch together a social add on to traditional talent management or just start with social at the centre?
Salesforce are betting on starting with a social centre. The current tech approach is slow to deploy ( takes up to 2 years) yet a lot of the content does not have much longevity. A compliance module or a performance review or succession plan is yesterday’s fish wrapping to be honest. You can replace the traditional systems quickly if you have an alternative that is compelling.
So social smocial? Are Taleo right? Will organisations continue to stick with the status quo? Will the e20 social transform organisations or does aligning HR tech products with the current state of organisational hierarchy make more sense? What do you think?
In my next blog I will continue with the 4 reasons HR Social is transformational.
Remember it is not what you are but what you will be.