The life and times of HR application software (2012 in review)

Summary:From talent management, payroll, analytics, HRMS and other niche HR solutions, this year saw several cool innovations and emerging trends, plus a generous helping of M&A with a side order of IPO. Brian Sommer covers major issues, company highlights, and the year's big misses.

Part Two – The micro/vendor view of HR software in 2012

In the course of a year, I get to attend a number of vendor conferences, analyst briefings and even take in a few teleconferences, too. In these encounters, I learn a lot of details about the vendor’s product line, technical architecture, management and strategy. 

Let’s review some of this year’s announcements, pluses, minuses, etc.:

Silkroad – Silkroad is based here in Chicago. They’ve got a fairly full talent management suite with a look and feel that is quite nice. Their advancements in social and other fronts are impressive, too. The company’s growth is positioning them to go public in the first half of 2013. If you haven’t seen it, get their report on social media  (Social Media & Workforce Collaboration).

HR Tech 2012 051
SilkRoad @ HR Technology - Copyright 2012 - All Rights Reserved - TechVentive, Inc.

Workday - Workday (WDAY) went public in 2012 with a huge uptick in price. You should watch for Workday’s public focus to shift more towards their financials applications as these are now coming of age. That doesn’t mean they’ll be ignoring HR applications though. Workday has already announced it has a recruiting module under development that will go into a beta test in 2013. Also noteworthy is the sheer number of HR software firms that are partnering with Workday. 

Workday Product Map - Copyright 2012 - All Rights Reserved - TechVentive, Inc.

While many HR user conferences have a kumbaya/feel good vibe, the Workday event in Vegas a couple of months ago was a veritable love-in. There’s a chemistry between the company and the customers that can’t be found in a lot of their competitors events.

Workday Recruiting - Copyright 2012 - All Rights Reserved - TechVentive, Inc.

Kenexa – Rudy and the gang at Kenexa closed their M&A deal with IBM. The interesting thing about this deal (versus those re: Taleo and SuccessFactors) was how IBM is going to position Kenexa’s solutions. IBM is taking a more strategic, CEO-focused look at the modern interconnected workforce and will likely pitch Kenexa with IBM’s social products. The goal will be to drive greater productivity, etc. from workforces. Kenexa, in the interim, announced a new social LMS, lots of mobile development tool advances and a resurgence in their RPO business.

SumTotal – Many firms have tried to buy their way into a full product suite but never get around to re-platforming the product line. SumTotal did. They now have one product line with one underlying architecture. This is no simple feat and it should help them acquire new partners and new customers.  

Talx – Talx is now embracing the Equifax name in its branding efforts although Equifax has owned the company for a bit now. Today, Talx is taking analytics, especially the marriage of Equifax data with Talx data, to whole new levels.  This approach to analytics could be a real one to watch.

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Talx @ HR Technology - Copyright 2012 - All Rights Reserved - TechVentive, Inc.

Northgate Arinso – Northgate Arinso has been expanding. The company is now into 111 countries for its euHReka  solution. It has more mobile apps and is doing more in BPO with its PeopleSoft offerings. 

HR Tech 2012 041
NGA @ HR Technology - Copyright 2012 - All Rights Reserved - TechVentive, Inc. – re-branded and enhanced its Rypple acquisition this year. Its spiffed up product,, was promoted heavily at the recent Dreamforce event.

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Launch of - Copyright 2012 - All Rights Reserved - TechVentive, Inc.

Ultimate – Ultimate Software has gotten a lot more vocal and noticeable of late. The company’s alliances and private label deals make Ultimate’s revenue grow nicely while also keeping cost of sales respectable. The company has expanded functionality and embraced social technology via a deal with Yammer. Ultimate also added more mobile functionality to the product line with more technology advancements in the works.

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Ultimate @ HR Technology - Copyright 2012 - TechVentive, Inc. - All Rights Reserved

Chequed. Com – is like many HR software firms - they like large employers with lots of turnover. Chequed does a solid e-reference check for a specific job. These checks could be used for internal or external hires. Their method identifies more negative feedback than a traditional phone reference check. Interestingly, their process can even turn the reference providers into passive job seekers.

Halogen – Halogen continued to experience more growth via more customers and in more countries. The company now has an HR friendly reporting portal marketed as an analytics tool.

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Halogen @ HR Technology - All Rights Reserved - TechVentive, Inc. - Copyright 2012

iMomentous –  Here’s a company that has put all kinds of thought as to how HR talent acquisition apps must be if done exclusively for mobile devices. iMomentous uses Linkedin content as the jobseeker’s resume (note: it can also use data from Evernote or Google Docs, too). The mobile first approach to their product points out some different process, content and other points that desktop first vendors might not get.

Entelo – I met twice with the founder of this new firm. They are in the business of predicting talent movement. They have an algorithm that spots when a person might be ready for a career move. If you’re an employer, you need this knowledge to retain the talent you have and to know exactly when to pounce on the best and brightest that others have on their payroll. Entelo sends its customers a daily email alert identifying top candidates who may be on the move. Entelo's algorithm looks at 70+ variables or leading indicators of an upcoming career change.  While I’m not privy to their algorithm, I sense their software looks at factors like a person updating their LinkedIn profile, key changes in their life (via Facebook updates), etc.  Entelo seems to be really dialed into the publications, shows, discussion groups, etc.  that certain skill sets focus on. They pick up on chatter in non-employer sites and seek clues as to the unmet wants/desires/aspirations of top talent.

RoundPegg -  Here’s a new firm for me. RoundPegg is designed for evaluating recruits, new hires, teams, etc. as to how well they align with your firm’s culture. They review your as-is culture and look for success markers within your existing workforce, teams, etc. They are not there to change your company’s culture but to avoid mismatches. They even evaluate sub-cultures, too.

TalentBin – TalentBin is like a detective agency for talent. They search for where the best talent lies electronically and that means they’re not just looking at the same old job boards everyone else does. They sell lots of licenses to operational people not just to HR or recruiter professionals. For example, if you want a software engineer in the San Francisco Bay Area, they look at the bulletin boards, discussion groups, etc. that those people utilize. If you want talent that has a strong online brand, TalentBin finds the most visible, influential, etc. candidates in that space.

There were some other vendors I saw/was briefed on this year that stood out to me (although I need to do more follow-up on. These include:

TalentWise – These folks do applicant screening and more. Their focus is to take friction out of the entire recruit-to-hire process

Luceo –  Luceo is owned by CareerBuilder. Luceo focuses on eliminating lost time in recruiting and on identifying the best sources of specific candidates to improve hiring and operational results. – Lynda provides online training. They have lots of video that is used by 400 schools and many businesses. This is actually a well-established firm that’s grown quite large, but very quietly.  

Montage –  I’ve had a few conversations with Montage executives and will get a more detailed look at the solution when I’m next in Milwaukee. Montage has a newer video interviewing solution.

Manpower – I didn’t get a chance to check in with them in 2012. Like Montage, I will definitely do so when I’m in Milwaukee next.

Mercer – Bruce Lee at Mercer is probably torqued with me as I’ve been schedule conflicted out of the last three analyst briefings. This can happen but unfortunately for Mercer, I’ve unintentionally set a world record. I’d really like to see them this year if Bruce will have me back.

 Please continue to Part Three - The Misses of 2012

Topics: Enterprise Software


Brian is in a unique position to diagnosis the winners and the losers in technology and services. He was the longest running (10 years) and most senior director of Andersen Consulting's (now Accenture's) global Software Intelligence unit - a position that required him to pick the best possible software solutions for hundreds of clients gl... Full Bio

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