A Look Ahead -and Behind

Acquisitions, clouds, data, mobility: Your 2013 checklist.

By Madeline Laurano
Over the past year, the HR technology market was anything but predictable. With market consolidation, improved analytics, and continued innovation, both traditional providers and startups are looking to differentiate themselves and expand into new territory.

Although this dynamic market might bring new opportunities, the majority of buyers are left with big questions and big concerns. Who are the leaders in the market? What should be the key criteria when selecting the right provider? Who will get acquired in 2013?
In order to answer these questions, organizations must become smarter and execute better on their HR technology decisions. They must examine the trends of the past year and determine what will dictate the future. Below are a few thoughts organizations might want to consider:
What Happened in 2012?
• M&A Game Change. It would be difficult to discuss 2012 without highlighting some of the most significant acquisitions in the history of HR technology. The most notable included Oracle’s acquisition of Taleo, SAP’s acquisition of SuccessFactors, and IBM’s acquisition of Kenexa. The landscape has shifted significantly, and many smaller providers are reinventing themselves to keep up. Given this level of consolidation, we have yet to see if enterprise resource planning (ERP) will surpass best-of-breed solutions in market share.
• Talent Acquisition, Center Stage. The majority of innovation in HR technology can be found in the talent acquisition space, particularly in areas such as social, mobile, and video. As new crops of sourcing, screening, assessment, hiring, and onboarding solutions rapidly enter the market, organizations have multiple options for replacing the resume and job boards. Even leading providers, such as iCIMS, have decided to move away from integrated talent management, and focus primarily on the opportunities in talent acquisition.
• Completely Cloudy. The “cloud” has become much more than a buzzword in talent management technology. It is now a key factor in decision making. According to a recent Aberdeen study, 39 percent of “high growth” organizations planned to invest in cloud computing in 2012. This is not surprising, as organizations are looking for stronger integration and better access to data. What is surprising, however, is that these organizations in every industry and every company size are investing in cloud solutions and even looking at their ERPs (thanks to the product leadership of companies such as Workday and acquisitions made by Oracle and SAP).
• Big Data Is Big. Big data is a topic of interest for many organizations considering HR technology. Many data management solutions are available when it comes to HR data, and every organization should carefully weigh their specific needs and budget requirements when selecting one. However, a few providers deserve special consideration, due to their strong correlation with the performance benefits of speed, satisfaction, and scale when it comes to managing big data.
What Can We Expect in 2013?
• HR and Finance—Partners. The integration and linkage of financial and HR data has the power to provide organizations with the visibility into, and control over, their financial performance, as well as the talent available to execute on business strategy. Organizations are beginning to make this connection, and providers such as Workday are offering solutions to help integrate financial and HR data more seamlessly.
• Talent Communities Rising. Organizations have been using talent
communities to engage with candidates and build a stronger recruiting strategy during the past year. Yet, the benefits of these communities need to extend beyond talent acquisition and consider the entire employee lifecycle. Brave New Talent is one provider to keep an eye on in this arena.
• Mobile Maturing. Mobile has redefined today’s workplace particularly in areas such as talent acquisition, learning, and workforce management. Although organizations are including mobile in their HR technology decisions, other areas of the business seem to be adopting mobile at a greater speed than HR. We are likely to see mobile solutions mature to include a more positive user experience, greater capabilities, and a stronger link to social media.
• SMB Market Growing. Human capital management is no longer a privilege of enterprise organizations. Given the shortage of key skills and increased competition for talent, small to mid-sized companies (SMBs) are rapidly adopting a more strategic process for recruiting, developing, and retaining talent. Solution providers are responding to this demand by moving down market and offering solutions to meet the needs of smaller organizations. Payroll is one example of an industry that is heating up in the SMB market.
Madeline Laurano is Aberdeen Group’s research director for talent acquisition solutions. She can be reached at

Tags: Consultants & Advisors, HRO Today Global, Professional Contribution

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