Today's announcement, SumTotal is buying Softscape, is just one of a cascade of announcements in recent weeks involving M&A activity in the Human Resources (HR), Human Capital (HC) and Talent Management spaces. Some of the other recent deals involved Mr.Ted (acquired by StepStone), ORC Worldwide (by Mercer), the Center for High Performance Development (by Kenexa) and Workscape (by ADP).
It's been a busy time in this space. And, I suspect that more deals will occur before long as companies are trying to fill out gaps in their product lines as well as acquire customers that they can cross-sell solutions to with low sales costs and efforts.
This is a sign that the space is maturing and it's a sign that the market may be regaining some measure of confidence. Equity backers wouldn't approve of these deals if they were worried that their portfolio companies were not able to meet their growth and financial targets (let alone remain solvent).
I'd encourage each of you to come to Chicago next week to see the HR Technology Conference. My friend, Bill Kutik has once again booked the McCormick Center for this event. He'll have approximately 250 HR vendors in the exposition hall (one of the coolest things to peruse). There will also be software shootouts, an analyst debate and other features you don't always see at trade shows. Check out the agenda here.
I go every year as it makes my reviewing of the HR space sort of a one-stop shop. This year, Katherine Jones and I will be there checking out a lot of new players and many familiar ones. I was pleased to see one vendor, HR Acuity, receive one of Bill's pre-show accolades. Katherine and I really liked their CEO and what she told us last year. I don't know if we influenced Bill's decision but I wouldn't have discovered them if I didn't attend last year's show.
I'd especially want to recommend you go to the show this year as the current wave of M&A could mean fewer exhibitors in future years.