SuccessFactors plugs Google Apps into HCM

Following on from its previous link-up with SaaS CRM giant Salesforce.com, Google has teamed up with SaaS talent management vendor SuccessFactors to bring its cloud-based collaboration suite into the human capital management (HCM) arena.
Written by Phil Wainewright, Contributor

Google has teamed up with SaaS vendor SuccessFactors to bring its cloud-based collaboration suite into the human capital management (HCM) arena. In a low-key announcement today, SuccessFactors launched five separate Google integrations that customers can choose to activate in its talent management software, including integrations with Google Docs, Google Calendar and Google Talk. Also linked are Google Maps and Google Book Search.

Earlier this year, Google teamed up with Salesforce.com, the leading SaaS CRM vendor, for the launch of Google Apps for Salesforce. Although the integration to SuccessFactors is not as deeply embedded as in Salesforce (there's no link to Gmail, for example), it has the potential to touch even more users. If early adopters find value in tapping the Google integrations, SuccessFactors claims a 4-million-plus user base that would have a new reason for accessing Google Apps. At the same time, SuccessFactors, which had its IPO last November, stands to gain from becoming the first HCM application to link to Google Apps, which, as BusinessWeek reports today, has already signed up more than 500,000 organizations.

Rob Bernshteyn, VP of global product marketing and management at SuccessFactors, said that SuccessFactors views the integration with Google as a differentiation from competitors that don't have the same shared services architecture. "We're the only vendor in HCM that's truly multitenant. We're the only one that has one code base," he said. "The huge advantage this gives us — that we've only just started to realize — is the opportunity to take advantage of web services out in the Internet cloud."

The Google integrations are just the first of many with other providers, he continued: "These five examples are only the tip of the iceberg of where we can go with this," he said. "There are five to six thousand web services out there that we can take advantage of" — for example, a PDF conversion service that a user might make available as a download option in their profile page.

Bernshteyn gave me some examples of how customers will use the integrations:

  • Google Talk — employees will be able to use Internet chat from within the SuccessFactors application to get help from colleagues when filling in a form or seeking advice.
  • Google Calendar — Performance tasks, goals and deadlines can be replicated from SuccessFactors into the calendar app so that they're in the same schedule as other work activities and targets.
  • Google Docs — Employees can embed Google documents in their profile page in SuccessFactors, providing colleagues with a single, up-to-date source for documents they own.
  • Google Book Search — Without leaving the SuccessFactors application, users can search for and start reading books that are relevant to their career development.
  • Google Maps — a manager can view a map that shows where members of his team are located, or visualize the impact of a relocation (see screenshot below).

Integration to Gmail isn't on the list because SuccessFactors were cautious of the privacy implications of hooking a general-purpose email account into a performance appraisal application. For the same reason, the Google Talk integration is a widget that sits in the application screen but has no capability to save a chat conversation directly in SuccessFactors except by cut-and-paste.

Customers enable the integrations by selecting the relevant configuration options, which are then activated by SuccessFactors. Customers must subscribe to Google Apps separately, and can specify that users only use their corporate Google Apps account rather than, for example, sharing documents from a personal Google Apps account.

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