Where is the “Talent Management” Market going?

Posted on November 9, 2008. Filed under: Enterprise Learning, HR Systems, Talent Management | Tags: , , , , , , , |

As the US economy lost 240,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate rises to 6.5%, one of the questions I know many people ask is the direction of the “talent management” marketplace.  Let me give you our thoughts on the trends taking place.

First, the urgency of “talent management” in corporate HR organizations has not slowed.  In fact, nearly every organization we talk with is moving ahead with their new talent management strategies, which includes redesign of performance management, further integration of their HR organization, assignment of a Vice-President or other senior HR leader responsible for “talent management,” and the desire to implement talent management software.

Second, we also are finding that most companies are also reducing the size of their HR and L&D organizations (the US L&D market in 2008 has shrunk significantly, and we will be publishing this data in the next few weeks).  We are now working with many organizations to restructure their training departments to create more centralized organizations in the interest of reducing costs, and we see a dramatic dropoff in the development of new L&D initiatives which are not directly related to talent management.

Third, organizations are cutting back on travel and other development-related expenditures and now investing more in lower cost, collaborative learning infrastructure.  One Fortune 100 company we are working with has decided that instead of replacing their learning managment system they are going to implement new collaborative, Learning 2.0 strategies using low cost social networking software to enhance their sales and service training and create more employee engagement.  The LMS “upgrade” looked like a $5 Million project, so it is going on hold.

Fourth, the talent management systems market continues to grow, but at a slightly slowing rate.  In fact, if we look at the Q3 2008 revenues of four publically traded companies, SuccessFactors, Taleo, SumTotal, and Saba, we see positive but slowing revenue growth in every single company.  Revenue growth rates at these four companies are 77%, 39%, 12%, and -1% respectively.  Unfortunately, each of these public companies continues to lose money and all have seen their market caps drop (along with the entire market).  But the market is still healthy:  for example we know that private companies are also growing – Plateau, GeoLearning, and Learn.com each grew by over 25% in the last year.

Fifth, if you look at the talent management software market, which we see as a tremendously important part of corporate HR and talent management going forward, it is beginning to become a bit crowded.  While we still see explosive growth into many years in the future, our latest research now shows that most buyers see similar features from many software providers.  As a result the “price to enter” the market is higher, and software vendors have to invest more and more in sales and marketing to maintain their revenue growth.  SuccessFactors, the fastest growing of all, continues to invest an amazing 61% of its revenue in sales and marketing, which is unsustainable for any company over a long period of time.   We firmly believe that the talent management software market, just like the LMS market, will segment itself into leaders in different segments (global enterprise, enterprise, mid-market, and eventually small business) – and both Oracle and SAP will continue to grow.

Bottom line:  Today’s economic environment has caused new stresses for the HR and L&D organization and will definitely slow the market for talent management software.  But is the party over?  Not at all.  Organizations of all sizes continue to push ahead with their new talent management, social networking, capability modelling, and collaborative learning strategies — they key is to maintain the focus on these programs in a highly efficient way.

New research on these topics:

The Essential Guide to Performance Management Systems and the Market

Enterprise Social Software 2009:  Facts, Analysis, Trends, and Vendor Profiles

The Talent Management Factbook

The Corporate Learning Factbook

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Your “Incumbent” HR Systems Vendor – What to do?

Posted on August 19, 2008. Filed under: HR Systems, Talent Management | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

I just completed a series of interviews with three organizations going through the important, challenging, and time consuming process of implementing a new performance management system.  In each case (a large healthcare provider, a global mining company, and a global call center operations company), the company is using the implementation of a performance management system to implement a new, re-engineered, strategic performance management process.  But rather than discuss this, I’d like to give you some thoughts on their vendor strategy.

These three companies each chose to use their “incumbent” systems vendor.  Rather than go to the “biggest” or “noisiest” systems vendor (I wont mention any names), they felt that they would see far greater benefits by using a newer system from their provider of recruiting software.  Why did they do this?  Because in each case they felt they had a wealth of data, experience, and strong working relationship with this company.

This points out two critical points, which we are publishing in a major research bulletin in the next few weeks:

1.  The biggest ROI from HR systems comes from integration, not automation.  As Leighanne Levensaler, our Director of Talent Management research has pointed out in many of her findings, the real breakthrough benefits of HR systems now come from newly enabled applications, such as pay-for-performance, integrated career and development planning, enterprise succession management, and strategic internal and external recruiting – not from automating or improving a single process.

As our data will prove, this means that the benefits of integration are now far greater than the potential downside of going with a product which may be missing a few features.  (Assuming your incumbent vendor is developing the features you need.)

This means that if your LMS vendor has a solution, or your recruiting vendor has a solution (or even your ERP vendor), you should really look hard at the time, energy, and existing investment you have made in this system before you rush out and bring in a new solution provider.  Obviously there are tradeoffs when your incumbent vendor is not keeping up, but in today’s HR systems world remember that “integration” is far more important than “automation.”

2.  The big “Incumbents” are getting their acts together.  The second point I want to make is that the traditional incumbents (recruiting systems providers, ERP providers (Oracle, PeopleSoft, SAP, Lawson), and LMS providers) are all getting their “talent and performance management” software acts together.  While there are many feature differences between the providers (and our Talent Management Suites research will help you identify these), all now provide some form of an end-to-end solution which includes performance management.

While this continues to be a wild and wolly world of innovation (watch social networking coming around the corner), we think the role of your incumbent is becoming more important than ever.

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Performance Management Creates Agility in Copper Mining

Posted on February 28, 2008. Filed under: HR Systems, Performance Management | Tags: , , , |

Last week I spoke with some of the business and HR leaders at Freeport McMoRan, one of the nation’s largest producers of copper, gold, and molybdinum.  This company, which recently acquired Phelps Dodge, produces over 4 billion lbs. of copper each year, from its mines in North America, Indonesia, Chile, and Peru.  The company generates over $16 billion per year in total revenues with over $1 Billion per year in net income.

Large Decentralized Operations

As one can imagine, this is a very big business.  The mines owned by Freeport McMoRan are enormous, and the equipment used for digging and trucking are among the largest pieces of equipment in the world.   Each of their global facilities uses slightly different technologies for the mining and production of ore, and must also deal with vastly different political, climate, and transportation networks.  As a result, each mine is like a seperate company, with its own general manager and staff organization.

Dramatic Business Changes over the Last Five Years

Over the last five years the market for copper has changed dramatically.  In fact, one could say it completely changed.  As the chart below shows, copper prices have increased from about 75 cents a pound to almost $4.00 in a very precipitous rise.

Copper Price Changes over Last Five Years

Fig 1:  Change in Copper Prices

This means that Freeport’s entire business strategy has changed.  In the late 1990s and early 2000s the company focused on reducing cost to optimize profits.  Operations personnel were trained to negotiate deep discounts on transportation and equipment costs, maintain equipment at the lowest possible cost (often incurring downtimes), and borrow or transfer heavy equipment from other locations to keep manufacturing costs low.  When it was expensive to fill a truck to the brim because a loader was overworked, they filled a half-truck and waited for the next run.  The overriding business goal was low cost production, not total production volume.

Today, however, the entire business strategy has shifted.  With prices so high, the company is now motivated to ship the maximum volume at the fastest possible speed.  Rather than negotiate low cost contracts for suppliers, the mines want expedited delivery of services, maximum uptime, and operations designed to maximize the production pipeline.  Every pound of copper which a mine produces now delivers a very high margin to the company.

Mining Equipment
Fig 2:  Large mining loaders and trucks

Performance Management Process to the Rescue

Since each mine is run seperately, when these dramatic changes took place over the last 3-4 years, it was difficult for top management to direct and monitor changes in these operational procedures.  In fact, because of the decentralized operational structure, there was no way for anyone at the corporate level to see how people were organized at each mine and what particular metrics or goals they were using to manage operations.

Around the middle of 2007 the company realized that in order to speed the transition to a high-price commodity market, they needed a process to help managers at all levels direct and monitor changes in operational goals and procedures.  They decided to implement a new, corporate-wide performance management process.

This problem, that of a major change in business and operations strategy, is very common in business today.  Consider the problem of auto manufacturers as they retool plants and marketing programs to focus on fuel efficient cars and hybrids.  Consider the changes which insurance companies have gone through as the insurance industry has restructured itself in the face of new global risks.  Or consider the massive changes going in mortgage, banking, and construction industries in the face of falling housing prices and mortgage failures.

Each time an organization goes through such a shift, there are needs to change operational targets, realign goals, and even reorganize job functions.  Such changes force managers and directors to change targets and goals.  A well implemented performance management process provides this agility.  And just as importantly, it gives directors and other top managers visilbility into operational goals and targets to make sure people are well aligned.

As Freeport McMoRan found, a highly decentralized organization can create accountability and efficiency – but makes alignment difficult.  Implementing a well adopted, transparent goal management process can create business agility which translates into direct revenue and profit impact.

Importance of Performance Management Systems

In this case, the company selected Taleo’s new online performance management system.  This system includes a very easy-to-use interface to allow employees and managers to establish well aligned goals.  Most performance management systems provide this capability – but in this case the company chose Taleo because of the company’s existing relationship with Taleo and the product’s extremely easy to use interface.  Since many of the workers in the mines only have occasional access to computers, they needed a system which required a minimum of training.

Freeport is now in their pilot phase of rollout, and the results have already been excellent.  For the first time in decades the company has visibility into the goals and operational targets of more than 500 mine employees (the pilot group).   As with all implementations, they had to focus initially on building a set of core competencies for their employees and establishing clear guidelines for goal development, but in a period of only a few months the company put the pilot system into production.

Bottom Line:  Performance Management is a Business Process, not an HR Process

My point of this article is simple:  we have to remember that tools like performance management, as important as they may seem to HR, are really business tools.   In addition to providing support for your succession management and compensation process, performance management is one of the most valuable ways to create agility and alignment.  Consider Freeport’s business changes over the last few years:  their entire operational strategy has taken a 180 degree shift.  How can an organization manage such changes?  Through the use of a well implemented performance management process, such strategic business changes can be implemented in a fast, consistent, and measurable way.

We will stay in touch with Freeport McMoRan, and update you with progress as their rollout continues.

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Social Networking: Meet Corporate America

Posted on November 16, 2007. Filed under: Content Development, Enterprise Learning, HR Systems, Learning 2.0, Performance Management | Tags: , , , , |

This week I was on a panel at the Oracle Users Group discussing the needs of the multi-generational workforce.  Most of the attendees (HR and training managers) were focused on identifying what their organizations need to do to attract, manage, and integrate younger workers into their organizations.  

Our research clearly shows that the Millenia (20s) and Generation X (30s) workforce has different values and career goals than the Baby-Boomers (50s) and Silent Generation (60s+).   Some of these changes include:

  • Much more interest in finding “fulfilling” jobs, not necessarily just the highest-paying jobs, focusing on finding meaningful and interesting work
  • Feeling free to change jobs frequently, not necessarily working up the ladder in one organization
  • Working as part of a “tribe,” finding work with people you like, not just an organization you like
  • Heavy use of technology (messaging, collaboration, online learning) as a daily part of their work lives
  • Very close relationships with family, to the point where parents even evaluate employers for the workers
  • Openness and flat organizations, where peers provide coaching as much as managers.

The key questions which organizations are struggling with are:

  • How do we attract highly skilled younger workers to our organization?   What can we do to become an attractive organization to them during the recruiting process?
  • What are the values which impact younger workers and how does this affect our management and compensation processes?
  • How do we build onboarding and career development programs for younger workers, many of which will change jobs 10-15 times in their careers?
  • How do we manage senior employees who may not be as technology-savvy as younger workers?
  • How do we build online learning and other internal systems to facilitate learning and collaboration to mirror the social networking tools which young workers use in school?

We are undertaking a significant research program in this area, which will cover the impact of the multi-generational workforce on all of the talent management and enterprise learning processes.  One of the elements of this research is the use of “internal social networking” tools like Facebook for corporate America.

Where is this going?  Facebook for Corporate America.

Let me say this.  Every HR and L&D leader I have talked with in the last several months is very aware of the need to build internal social network solutions for their organization.  We can call it “Facebook meets Talent Management for Corporate America.”

Such a system has the potential to solve many problems:

  • An internal directory of employees for collaboration
  • A talent management solution to identify people for projects and new roles
  • A career planning system to help employees find new positions and opportunities
  • A learning and development solution to allow people to collaborate to solve discipline and function-specific problems (e.g. technical support, engineering, product development, customer service)
  • A system which integrates with the company’s performance management and talent management system, providing access to information such as performance ratings, career history, languages, preferences, career interests, and more.

Where are these solutions?  Well nearly every LMS and talent management systems vendor would like to have such a solution today.  Some exciting developments are coming here – and I would like to highlight a few (you can learn more about this space by coming to our Research Conference IMPACT 2008:  The Business of Talent (www.bersin.com/impact ), where we will be highlighting many of these new solutions.

New Solutions to Watch:  Mzinga, Tomoye, and Taleo

A few important companies to watch:  Today KnowledgePlanet announced their bold and exciting new rebranded company Mzinga (www.mzinga.com) – Mzinga, headed by former Lotus and Webex executives, is launching an exciting product and services-based strategy to help organizations build social networks inside of corporations. 

A second company which has been focusing in this area for some time is Tomoye (www.tomoye.com).  Tomoye has been building corporate communities of practices for several years and also has a well designed product for corporate social networks.  I expect them to pick up momentum in the year to come.

Finally, we have to mention Taleo (www.taleo.com).  Taleo’s new performance management product (Taleo Performance) is one of the most interesting “facebook-like” performance products we have seen to date.  Its innovative new user interface gives the company the option to build social networking features into the daily and annual process of employee performance management.

See More at IMPACT 2008:  The Business of Talent®

We will be featuring corporate social networking and new solutions for informal learning at our 2008 research conference IMPACT 2008:  The Business of Talent (www.bersin.com/impact).  Hold the dates on your calendar (April 22-24 in beautiful St. Petersburg, Florida) – registration will be available soon.

The Business of Talent

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HR Technology Conference 2007 – A Recap

Posted on October 14, 2007. Filed under: HR Systems, Performance Management, Talent Management | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Leighanne Levensaler and I just finished a week at the HR Technology show in Chicago. This conference represents one of the biggest meetings of HR technologists and HR software vendors each year.  As always, this conference was an opportunity for most of the HR and learning technology providers to announce new products and offerings.

Here are some of our major findings after two days of in-depth meetings.

Talent Management is the Rage, But Different for Each Organization

There is no more discussion about the words Talent Management vs. Human Capital Management – everyone has adopted the talent management term. In fact, there is widespread consensus that every company needs a talent management strategy.

As our research has shown, however, the actual implementation of talent management varies widely from company to company.  In the Vice-President of HR talent management panel, the five attendees actually discussed very different definitions about what the term means. Liviu Dedes from Aramark talked about the need to provide scalable and consistent processes across many different organizations and talent pools. Valerie Norvell from Luxottica expressed the need to create dramatically different behaviors among their sunglass retailers to meet the needs of different brands. Andy Ortiz from HealthNet mentioned the need to improve workforce performance and skills across the organization. And Mary Ruiz from Yahoo mentioned that talent management forms the basis of capital value in our economy.

Talent management means different things to different organizations.  As you define your strategy and select your systems, it is important to tie this solution to your own unique business challenges.  Our research tells us that talent management is a specific strategy for each organization which drives high performance, agility, and engagement in the workforce.  For more details, please read our High Impact Talent Management® research.

Talent Management Suites are Really Here.

There is no question that there is new software “category” in HR called talent management suites. Every major HR systems vendor now offers a suite of some kind, including some combination of recruiting, performance management, competency management, compensation, succession planning, career planning, and learning management. The financial community is also fueling this: Authoria, CornerstoneOnDemand, GeoLearning, SuccessFactors and Workstream have all recently received major rounds of venture funding.  One of the financial analysts we spoke with told us “we have plenty of money to invest in this space, help us figure out who the winners will be.”

Our principal analyst, Leighanne Levensaler, presented her breakthrough new findings on the market for talent management suites, showing the complexity and immaturity of this market. As you will see from the notes in this posting, almost every company in this market now has a performance management system – but how integrated are all these modules? We’re not quite there yet. For an executive overview of this research, please click here. The final report will be available in November, and you can purchase it now at a discount.

One of the things we’re seeing in the software market is an increased focus on real integration and improvement of user interfaces. While the suite market is still very new, and most organizations cannot adopt an entire suite, vendors are moving beyond the simple “four packages from the same vendor” toward a truly integrated solution which uses a common user experience.


We met with the executives from Workstream, who launched their next-generation talent management 2.0 product with much fanfare. The product looks fantastic, and in fact the dashboard interface is so sexy and appealing to business people that many people crowded around the Workstream booth just to see how it worked. We believe that Workstream has done an amazing job of integrating the products from four acquisitions into a seamless product set. While there is still much work to do behind the scenes, we believe Workstream will pick up speed and gain market momentum in the next 12 months.

SHL Group

The topic of competencies came up a lot in our meetings. As strong advocates of competency management as a foundational process for talent management, we found ourselves very well aligned with the thinking of many companies. In particular we had several in-depth meetings with SHL Group, one of the largest (but not well know in the US) talent management solution providers in the world. SHL, a $155M company, provides a deep research-based solution for psychographic and skills-based competency assessment. Such competency assessment, built upon many years of behavioral research and the company’s well-developed competency model, can be used for many high-value talent management problems:

• Assessing candidates for hire

• Assessing skills during restructuring, mergers, and acquisitions

• Assessing high-potential managers for leadership positions

• Assessing highly skilled professionals for succession planning.

The value of solutions like SHL Group and Vangent (a similar company which has just entered the US market with excellent solutions) is tremendous: huge increases in the quality of hire, rapid assessment of candidates for organizational transitions, and tremendous efficiency improvements in hiring.

While these companies (SHL Group and Vangent) tend to compete with Taleo, Kenexa, and other software providers, in many ways they are complimentary – by focusing intensely on providing world-class assessment solutions, they greatly increase the value of any talent management system.


We had an excellent meeting with Rudy Karsan, the CEO of Kenexa. Kenexa, a company which most talent management solution providers emulate, thinks about talent management the way we do – as a business solution, not an HR solution. Rather than focus on increasing speed and reducing cost, Kenexa’s solutions (software, content, and consulting) focuses heavily on improving the quality of hire and quality of management – focusing on helping people “hire the best” and “retain them.”

Our discussions focused on many strategy issues, including the company’s 2006 acquisition of leading recruitment software provider BrassRing and its inevitable march into the talent management software market. While Kenexa’s total go-to-market strategy focuses on business-driven consulting and organizational design strategies, the company is now generating more than $100M in revenue through software and platforms, making it a very important player in the talent management systems market.

As Kenexa continues its global reach and expands its talent management solutions, we believe the company is likely to enter the important market for learning solutions. All our discussions with HR managers at the show confirmed our findings here – all talent management strategies are dependent upon strong strategies for competency management, learning, coaching, and employee development.


Vurv, a fast-growing and increasingly important player in the market for talent management suites, introduced Vurv Perform 4.0, highlighting the company’s new performance and succession planning system. Vurv now has an integrated suite with strong features for recruiting, compensation, performance management and succession planning (available in 2008). Through its acquisition strategy the company has completely transformed itself from Recruitmax to a provider of complete talent management software solutions. We have always been impressed with Vurv’s heavy focus on ease-of-use and the company’s integrated offering of 70,000 different content objects: competencies, job descriptions, behavioral indicators, interview questions, and coaching ideas – for use in recruiting and in performance management. Armed with a strong new Senior VP of Global Sales, we believe Vurv will also be growing rapidly in 2008. The company truly demonstrates its “Vurv” through its enthusiastic and positive approach to this confusing market.


We met personally with Larry Dunivan, Vice President of Products for Lawson, to discuss their newly announced strategic human capital management suite. Larry introduced us to two of Lawson’s new customers – Sitel and CommerceBank. Both customers were very pleased with Lawson’s collaborative approach to HCM software product development – one had switched from Oracle to Lawson and the other was going through a major expansion to HCM due to organizational growth.

Because Lawson is an ERP software provider (the company offers an HRMS and complete financial application, similar to Oracle, SAP, and Workday), the company’s HCM software can be totally integrated into its other applications. (See our research bulletin on Building an Integrated Talent Management Systems Architecture for more details on this issue.) The company’s performance at the “HCM Battle” against Oracle and Workday was excellent – almost all of the viewers rated Lawson far above Oracle in its ability to deliver an integrated HCM suite. While Lawson is not a fast-growing company, it has more than 4,000 existing customers who are now excellent prospects for the company’s integrated HCM suite.


I had the pleasure of flying to Chicago with two key Taleo employees from the product management organization. As we have written about earlier, Taleo’s newest product, Performance 2.0, takes a groundbreaking new approach to performance management, with a very user-centric “Facebook-like” user interface which avoids the typical screens of data entry fields, tabs, and pull down menus. While the product is not in general availability yet, we believe Taleo’s offering will “make waves” in the performance management market because it helps companies understand how these systems can truly move from “performance appraisal automation” systems to “employee management support” systems.I firmly believe that the performance management software market is going to change rapidly in the next few years, and quickly morph into a platform for all aspects of management – far beyond appraisals, 9-box grids, and development plans. Taleo sees the same potential in this segment.


One of the bigger eye-openers to me at this event was our meeting with Salary.com. This is a publicly traded company with very strong momentum (a market capitalization of $245M, on sales of about $30-35M, a very high multiple – almost 5-times higher than LMS companies, for example). While the company is most widely known for its large database of compensation data and its compensation analysis system (which is used by more than 7,000 organizations), the company also has built a talent management suite. Salary.com’s TalentManager® is designed to implement performance management and tightly link it to the company’s compensation management and analysis system. Such a system is very well positioned in the market for “pay-for-performance” solutions.In addition, Salary.com recently purchased ITG Competency Group, a well positioned company with one of the largest databases of skills and competencies in vertical and functional job areas. ITG is a small company with deep competency models which have been developed over many years. The combination means that Salary.com has the ability to build out a complete talent management system with world-class competency libraries included. ITG also works with every other software vendor and will continue to offer its content in partnership with other solution providers. Ultimately Salary.com is assembling an excellent software solution – we just believe the company needs to focus its marketing emphasis on driving higher awareness of these products.


Another interesting and important player in the talent management software market is StepStone. StepStone, a $175M public company, is one of Europe’s largest providers of job portals. In fact, in Europe the term “StepStone” has become a noun to signify a job website.

Earlier this year the company acquired ExecuTRACK, a complete HRMS and HCM system used widely by mid-market companies in the US and Europe. This summer the company rebranded the product StepStone ET Web Enterprise. The product is well known throughout the world, with customer such as Lufthansa, McDonald’s Deutschland, DHL, Cadbury Schweppes, Statoil, and others. The company has just set up their US sales and service organization in Austin, Texas and we expect them to start an aggressive push on the US market. StepStone’s system is discussed in detail in our Talent Management Suites research, available in November.


Workscape is a very interesting and increasingly important company in this market.  Workscape’s core offering is a rich, enterprise-class compensation, benefits, and incentive system.  The system is one of the most sophisticated and enterprise-class systems we have seen.  In fact, IBM uses Workscape to manage compensation plans and budgets for more than 300,000 employees (imagine the complexity) – and the company also recently signed an agreement to provide compensation management for another similarly sized global consulting firm.  Workscape introduced their performance management application, which gives the company one of the most integrated and configurable solutions for pay-for-performance on the market.


We spent a few hours with Authoria at the show as well. We have always considered Authoria one of the most knowledgeable and forward-thinking talent management systems vendors. The company developed their suite strategy years ago, and through the acquisition of highly capable companies, has developed an integrated solution for recruiting, performance management, salary and incentive compensation, and benefits communication. The Authoria 2007 platform, the company’s new integrated technology platform, is now becoming available.

Authoria had two particularly notable announcements at this conference. First, the company released a new version of its recruiting product. This new release focuses even heavier on helping organizations manage “quality of hire,” by taking advantage of an improved employee profile (“job model”) which integrates pre-hire questionnaires with resumes and other candidate information. As we discuss in our bulletin on selecting a talent management architecture, these types of “employee profile” extensions are critically important to understanding how to focus on hiring the “best” people, not just improving hiring speed or reducing hiring cost.

The second, and probably more interesting news, is that Authoria won the “Performance and Recruiting Shootout” – competing against HRSmart, SuccessFactors, and Vurv. Authoria’s well-developed recruiting application (a very mature system purchased from Hire.com) and the company’s elegant user interface stole the show. Our principal analyst Leighanne Levensaler, worked closely with Bill Kutik, show chairman, to develop this script. You can see this script demonstrated by other vendors at our IMPACT 2008: The Business of Talent™ conference in April. (www.bersin.com/impact) .


Let me make one mention of a company we all know well, IBM. As many of you know, I spent 10 years of my career at IBM and continue to have admiration for this amazing company. I spent several hours with Tim Ringo, IBM’s new Global Leader of Human Capital Management services. The company has clearly “woken up” to the market for talent management systems, processes, and business consulting. Tim has effectively convinced IBM that this market is real and transformational – and is now actively recruiting around the world to grow the consulting organization. I will not disclose any of IBM’s strategies (I am sure they will be visible to many of you), but suffice it to say that IBM has a unique ability to bring business and technology expertise, software, and an extensive internal experience in talent management to this market.

The LMS and Performance Management Systems Market

I had the privilege of giving an in-depth presentation on the market for LMS and performance management systems. Even though the session competed with one of the shootouts, we had more than 250 people in attendance. The LMS market continues to be big, evolving, and confusing to many companies. For more details on this presentation, you can view an online version of this presentation by going to our website.

Client Discussions

We had many conversations with research clients at our reception, including Starwood, The Gap, Molex, ING Bank, OwensCorning, Wachovia, and many others. In general we found that most organizations are quite baffled by the wide range of options, multitude of possible technology strategies, and rapid changes in the HR systems market. To help organizations sort this out, we are publishing a separate research bulletin, “How to Build an Integrated Talent Management Systems Strategy” which highlights the important issues to consider. 

One of the things which come up regularly with clients is the tension between IT and HR. In today’s rapidly changing HR Systems market, it is important for both teams to get on the same page and build a 3-5 year strategy for these systems, with contingency plans for various market changes. With the landscape changing as rapidly as it is today, it is impossible to predict where the market will go – so please read this bulletin if you are in the middle of this process.

Bottom Line

While much of these comments discuss software and vendor services, this conference grew to over 1,000 paying attendants this year (biggest ever). This tells me that talent management and technology has moved to center stage. We will continue to focus our research in this area, giving our readers and research members the most business-oriented, pragmatic, and high value advice and services in the market. 

PS:  Remember to register for our WhatWorks® in Talent Management newsletter, which reaches more than 90,000 HR professionals around the world.

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