SuccessFactors shows a path to Enterprise 2.0

SuccessFactors has announced the latest enhancements to its service with the release of ULTRA.

SuccessFactors' has announced the latest enhancements to its service with the release of ULTRA (a laborious acronym or mantra to describe the core concepts of the software: User delight, Leading edge innovation, Technology agnostic, Results focused capabilities, Advanced integration).

SuccessFactors is one of the software-as-a-service success stories. The company, which delivers human resource (automating performance and talent management), took in more than US$100 million in its IPO in November 2007.

Along with Taleo (also a public company with over 1 million users) and Workday (chaired by PeopleSoft founder Dave Duffield), SuccessFactors is breathing new life into managing humans as resources.

The main innovation of ULTRA is making the functionality more usable via Web 2.0 technologies, so that employees, and management, will not think of HR performance and talent management as a trip to the dentist.

"At our scale, with over 2 million users, we are in a unique position to deploy Web 2.0 in the enterprise," said Rob Bernshteyn, vice president of global product marketing and management at SuccessFactors.

The 2 million users are spread across 1,400 customers (disclosure: CNET Networks is a customer) in 150 countries, according to the company, which employs about 700 people. SuccessFactors pricing ranges from between US$100 to US$150 per user per module per year.

ULTRA offers some new features, such as an interactive seating chart, integration with Facebook (linking employee and Facebook profiles) and tagging capabilities. The Flash-based Succession Organizational Chart lets managers easily view multiple reporting layers and take actions.

ULTRA provides tag clouds, allowing people to associate themselves with interest groups and make the connections visible to the whole organization. The software can also automatically create development goals for employees based on gaps found in a performance review.

A Seating Chart application locates people in the organization, saving time that would be spent wandering around an office trying to find someone's office or cubicle.

A Source Quality Chart plots the performance of employees against the recruiting cost for each source as a way to get some measure of ROI.

Along with CRM, the HR space is where Web 2.0 is showing the path to Enterprise 2.0. Other categories, from financials and billing to business intelligence and integration services, are also populated with new SaaS alternatives to client/servers solutions.

Given the state of the economy, corporations looking to weather the apparent recession storm and bring in new solutions should take a closer look at the pay-as-you-go SaaS model.

This article first appeared as a blog post on ZDNet.com.