As businesses work to differentiate their products or services, grow the bottom line, and expand globally, they need to think seriously about the important role that their employees play in helping the business achieve successful outcomes. Businesses must invest in processes and technology to recruit and onboard the best people, address performance gaps with key learning activities, provide career development plans, and align pay with performance. Activities like human resource management (HRM) deployment in the cloud and the use of mobile and social technologies for HRM processes catapult HR to the cutting edge of innovation.
Last month, I published an update to my 2011 Forrester Wave™ on talent management because the human resource management (HRM) market has experienced tremendous consolidation and many top-rated vendors have become part of other very large organizations. I defined “talent management” as encompassing performance, learning, succession planning, and career development. When I published my current Wave in March 2013, I continued to call it the “Talent Management Wave.” This has caused confusion, because in the past two years, the word “talent management” has morphed to include recruiting, which also has seen incredible growth and change. As the Wave is a deep dive into more than criteria and focuses on 10 vendors, I could not include recruiting within the parameters of the Wave. Recruiting is also very different, with many integrations with small boutique vendors that provide important services. But the questions kept coming: “Where is recruiting?”
I decided that the title, not the content, was the problem. Therefore, this Wave has a new, more representative, title: “The Forrester Wave: Learning And Talent Development, Q1 2013.” This title better describes my effort to showcase the suite vendors that own both performance (often including succession and career development) and learning applications and have devoted tremendous energy and resources to unify the two applications (with various degrees of success). Ideally, this means that a manager can identify an employee knowledge gap and, right from the performance app, select the best learning opportunity that will address the gap, and the activity or course appears on the employee’s individual learning plan. These applications look and feel like one application.
One of our recent surveys on business applications shows that more than 60% of business and business technology (BT) decision-makers consider consolidating, rationalizing, and transforming their business applications a high or critical priority — business applications drive three of the top four software initiative priorities (see the figure below). If we include closely related analytics, business intelligence (BI), and decision support tools, we cover all four top priorities.
At the same time, business and BT execs responsible for a variety of different business and IT domains across multiple industries typically explain that customer experience has moved to center stage; digital value has increasing importance in an information society and an information economy; and better use of things like real estate, intellectual property, available inventory, skilled personnel, and digital assets has become mandatory to manage costs and create new revenue streams. Managing and reducing costs in a continuously changing business and IT environment remains a key driver for functional departments in many firms.
The rumor circulating for the past few weeks has now been confirmed: Oracle is buying Taleo, a global talent management vendor, for $1.9 billion. This is just another — albeit important — acquisition in the strategic talent management space. All companies must have core HR systems in place, but now it’s equally important to look at the strategic part of HR: the performance, succession, career development, and learning components as a layer resting on top of the core. Companies want to retain, develop, and reward their employees and need these applications in place for efficiency and effectiveness.
With this acquisition, Oracle gets a vendor with these talent management components in a pure SaaS deployment model, which provides ultimate flexibility. However, the offerings in the suite are not equally robust. Taleo is known for its recruiting app; to become a suite vendor, it added performance, which has gotten mixed reviews, and learning, which is not best in its class. Learn.com, the vendor Taleo acquired for learning, works OK for the midmarket, but its functionality does not hold up well for large global and enterprise customers.
Oracle can’t buck the SaaS tide any more. SaaS is the preferred deployment model for talent management, and the large ERP vendors like SAP (finalizing its acquisition of SuccessFactors) and Oracle are now joining the movement. Oracle offers Fusion, but a lot of work still needs to be done to develop this into a full SaaS talent suite. Once this deal closes, watch and see how Oracle positions the Taleo offerings with Fusion Talent Management.
Oracle Corporation announced its purchase of Taleo for $1.9 billion on Feb. 9, 2012, signaling a major shift in its stance on software-as-a-service (SaaS) and talent management applications. The transaction is expected to close midyear 2012, subject to regulatory and stockholder approvals.
Oracle has long held a “we can build it better” position on talent management, learning, and recruitment applications but struggled to compete with best-of-breed talent management vendors like SuccessFactors (recently acquired by rival SAP), Taleo, Kenexa, Cornerstone, and SumTotal Systems. Oracle has been reticent to offer these (or any other) applications via SaaS, preferring a licensed/on-premises business model that provides early revenue recognition versus the deferred revenue model of SaaS.
In fact, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has been outspoken in his anti-SaaS stance in recent years, changing his posture somewhat with the Oracle Public Cloud announcement at last October’s Oracle OpenWorld conference. Meanwhile, the HR apps market shifted overwhelmingly to the SaaS (subscription-based) deployment model, which has become virtually ubiquitous in recruitment, learning, and talent management and is also growing in core HRMS via ADP, Ultimate Software, and Workday.
By acquiring Taleo, Oracle puts itself back in the game for SaaS recruiting and talent management. Taleo is a market leader in recruitment automation and has a competitive portfolio of products across performance, compensation, and learning management. The $1.9 billion deal price is more than six times Taleo’s 2011 annual revenues of $309 million, a high premium but substantially less than the $3.4 billion and 11-times revenues that SAP recently paid for SuccessFactors.
SAP is a paying a substantial premium to acquire SuccessFactors, a leading SaaS performance and talent management vendor. The press release of December 3, 2011 states that the deal price of $40 per share is a 52% premium over the Dec. 2 closing stock price. Even more startling is that SuccessFactors has a revenue run rate of roughly $300 to $330 million for 2011, and the acquisition price of $3.4 billion is more than 10 times revenue! Why then did SAP make this move?
SAP’s cloud strategy has been struggling with time-to-market issues, and its core on-premises HR management software has been at a competitive disadvantage with best-of-breed solutions in areas such as employee performance, succession planning, and learning management. By acquiring SuccessFactors, SAP puts itself into a much stronger competitive position in human resources applications and reaffirms its commitment to software-as-a-service as a key business model.
In my recent research for a soon-to-be-published Forrester Wave™ on human resource management systems (HRMS), I noted that SAP has more than 13,000 customers using its HCM suite. Yet the adoption of SAP’s learning and talent management products is much less (a few thousand, perhaps), which is noted in my colleague Claire Schooley’s “The Forrester Wave™: Talent Management, Q2 2011.” The talent management Forrester Wave also clearly shows that SAP’s embedded talent management offerings lag well behind the best-of-breed specialists in learning and performance management. The bottom line here is that SAP HCM customers predominantly run best-of-breed talent management solutions alongside their SAP core HRMS (i.e., the transactional employee system of record).