In December 2011, shortly after SuccessFactors announced its acquisition by SAP, David Wilkins, VP Taleo Research published an insightful commentary on what the acquisition of a talent management provider by an HRIS system would mean to its customers. Wilkins argues persuasively that the combination would be problematic for SuccessFactors customers by commenting:
- “An HRIS isn’t ever going to move the needle on engagement, but talent management interventions have been shown to impact not only engagement, but productivity, innovation, time-to-competency, and a host of other business variables... one argument for consolidation is the combining of the HR / Talent Management data set, but this rings hollow from the start.”
- “By my rough count, [SAP and SuccessFactors] need to rationalize more than five major platforms; four versions of HRIS; three performance management tools; two LMS’s, two recruiting tools, two social tools, and what? A partridge in a pear tree?”
- “…customers need to figure out pesky little questions like: “Will my LMS be supported next year?” “Will the product I’ve invested in for three years be the one they standardize on or will I be forced to migrate?” “Am I going to get lost in the shuffle?” Big questions. No answers yet.”
- “… customers see slower innovation, less responsiveness, fewer answers. SAP and SuccessFactors clients will need to decide for themselves how this will play out in their case. My take is best echoed by immortal words of Professor Hinkle: “Messy, messy, messy.”
- “HRIS has not innovated at anywhere near the pace of SaaS-based talent management solutions… I wouldn’t be surprised to see the best and brightest players at SuccessFactors grow frustrated with the pace of change and leave, perhaps back to their roots with other rapidly growing SaaS talent management solutions.”
- “Consolidation itself isn’t bad, and even consolidation between talent management and HRIS isn’t bad by default, provided the integration leads to synergy, as in: 1+1 = 3. This consolidation feels more like 1+1 = 1.5 – at least from a customer perspective. “
I agree with David Wilkins’s comments on the SAP / SuccessFactors merger and those comments are equally applicable to Taleo today. For a select segment of Taleo customers, the alignment of Oracle (or PeopleSoft, JD Edwards or another platform) with Taleo will make sense and deliver benefit. For clients who use Taleo with other systems the experience may be different – and for those who appreciate Taleo for its innovation and culture, it’s almost inevitable that within the context of Oracle both will change.
Oracle and SAP have both now acknowledged the importance of talent management through their actions. If Wilkins is correct and SuccessFactors customers will see “slower innovation, less responsiveness” from SAP, the same is true for Taleo customers in the Oracle context. And if Wilkins is correct that the “best and brightest players at SuccessFactors” will “grow frustrated with the pace of change and leave, perhaps back to their roots with other rapidly growing SaaS talent management solutions,” we invite those talented professionals to look closely at the innovation happening at Peoplefluent for their new opportunities… along with their similarly talented colleagues from Taleo who find themselves in exactly the same position today (http://www.peoplefluent.com/careers).