In their desire to better manage human capital, HR leaders can expect a myriad of integrated offerings -and some market confusion -in the near future.
Talent management has been the industry’s buzz word for some time now, but ask 10 different HR leaders what it means, and you might get 10 different answers. To some, it’s a rather narrowly defined service or tool, while for others it can span a broad spectrum that includes everything from recruiting through the entire employee life cycle. However it’s defined, talent management is definitely a growing area of interest for today’s HR leaders.
But regardless of how many ways talent management is defined, the common thread that binds all of these definitions is the requirement for a robust technology backbone to support data integration. Without it, managing any organization’s talent needs now and in the future would be an ineffective, fragmented waste of time.
David Turetsky, director of product development for Marlboro, MA-based Workscape, a provider of compensation and benefits services, said the key to effective talent management is to provide relevant data to HR leaders—any information that they can use to make a business impact. He said in an age when organizations generate lots of data but not always in a useful way, HR professionals can sometimes become “punch-drunk” from a flood of useful and useless information. In reaction to this, his clients want their outsourced service provider to make sense of it all.
“What they are asking us is ‘How can you provide us value-add by looking at data in a way we have not looked at.’ One of the big push is in turning HR information into HR knowledge,” he said.
Indeed, data mining has caught on as a useful tool in the HR professional’s kit, but within any organization, especially those operating multiple businesses in multiple countries on multiple platforms, separating the wheat from the chaff is no small task. Even when HR does find the information it needs, it can be a daunting task to present it in a useful form.
Take the example of applicant tracking systems. Now entering their third generation, these ubiquitous tools have come a long way from their early days to provide much more integrated functionality. Part of the reason why ATS technology has become so widespread is because it addresses a specific problem with data management, said Jim Restivo, chief knowledge officer with Kenexa, a recruitment technology and services provider.
“For process management types of solutions, the ATS seems to be the most well understand, and that reflects the type of solution it is. It addresses pain,” he said.
But to successfully implement talent management, these point solutions will need to be incorporated into the broader HRMS of an organization. After all, ATS software go as far as the applicant, but once candidates become employees, their data should be seamlessly migrated into payroll and propagated into other components such as learning management systems (LMS), compensation planning, and more. That’s why HR service buyers are increasingly looking to suites of services or standalone products that play well with others.
And according to Restivo, the marketplace is actively developing many new innovations to help HR professionals better manage the data. “There are so many opportunities ahead to give people a richer set of information,” he said, adding that even simple tools such as those that track an organization’s pipeline of talent for a particular position will be in big demand.
For buyers, however, the next several years can be somewhat confusing, added Turetsky, because vendors will introduce a plethora of offerings to the marketplace. Although their large numbers will offer many choices, it will also add to the confusion. And choosing the most appropriate solution will require diligence, patience, and faith in the vendor community.
“There is a rainbow of users out there and a rainbow of corporate culture, and one type of technology won’t win with every single type of culture. The market is fragmented and will continue to be fragmented,” he added.