Human resources professionals must deal with volumes of workforce data that resides in disparate software systems, including individual spreadsheets. But although the data is accessible to them, many organizations don’t have technology to aggregate, synthesize and analyze it, and so cannot easily use it to make efficient and effective decisions about talent acquisition and talent management.
And many are not ready to adopt new tools. In our recent benchmark research on workforce analytics, even though more than half of participants said they need to gain visibility into basic talent metrics and KPIs, as well as to enable predictive analytics for workforce planning, only 38 percent of organizations plan to change the way they generate and apply analytics in the next 12 to 18 months; nearly as many (35%) said changes are needed but are not a priority now. And third on the list of barriers that impede change on the technology side was that there is no suitable software (41%).
This last view is noteworthy because it’s actually not true. Two vendors that provide such software have just combined their assets.
Peopleclick Authoria announced this week the acquisition of Aquire Solutions, which has more than 2,700 organizations in 125 countries using its products to manage data for 10 million employees.
My colleague Mark Smith wrote earlier this year about Aquire InSight and the fact that it’s delivered as software as a service (SaaS), the approach known as cloud computing. SaaS can speed deployment and decrease the time to operational value of workforce analytics. Instead of just incorporating pie or bar charts into a standard dashboard, the Aquire Insight application makes it easy to assess the trends of the KPIs and underlying metrics to determine where improvements should be made within a division, down to the individual department and operational manager. From the top-level view users can easily do root cause analysis of issues ranging from voluntary turnover to poor employee performance. The organizational chart is used as a visualization tool and analytic framework within which to advance the workforce planning process, from hiring to succession to workforce modeling “what if” scenarios. For those that want to easily understand how metrics and KPIs are being calculated, Aquire has provided a business-level explanation and visual representation of the analytic calculations.
The acquisition announcement said that Aquire will remain independently run by its current leadership. This raises the question of how the products of the respective companies will work together.
Research has shown that people responsible for buying HR software, specifically IT, prefer to have a single sign-on for users to access integrated systems, and preferably unified with a single source code platform. Thus this could be a risky for Peopleclick Authoria, which battles for market share against the likes of SumTotal Systems, which has seamlessly integrated its acquisitions of GeoLearning and Softscape into its own suite (and has embedded the IBM Cognos Workforce Performance engine in the system). The same could be said for Plateau Systems and their unified talent management suite.
Only a little over a year ago the analyst community wondered if struggling Authoria could integrate its technology platform with Peopleclick’s. That still remains to be seen. Nevertheless, the Aquire acquisition underscores Peopleclick Authoria’s commitment to advancing the aggregation and accessibility of past, current and predictive workforce analytics to human resource professionals and the entire enterprise.
For many years HR software vendors focused on the narrow aims of this function, but now that is changing as HR takes a more strategic role in the business, and I believe most human capital management professionals as well as executives across all lines of business – including finance, operations, IT, the supply chain, sales and marketing, and customer service – will find this refreshing. Peopleclick Authoria’s messaging focuses on providing business intelligence and analytics that yield actionable insights required to make strategic decisions that improve business results. Its competitors SuccessFactors, SumTotal Systems, Plateau and Workday have also refined their messaging to reflect a broader business case, which HR now is charged to deliver on more than ever before.
In the wake of the Aquire acquisition it will be interesting to see what happens next with similar stand-alone workforce analytics software vendors such as Human Concepts that my colleague recently assessed and eThority. We expect that organizations increasingly will understand the value of accurately tracking and accessing vital data such as voluntary vs. involuntary turnover, global demographic shifts in the employee population, talent pool mobility and succession planning, and many more metrics and KPIs. Will these smaller companies be able to compete successfully on their own, or will more consolidation occur? Based on the flurry of consolidation starting in 2010, I believe the latter will be the case.
If your company is looking for workforce analytics and planning capabilities that are interconnected and integrated with your broader talent management suite, business intelligence collaboration tools and knowledge sharing, the combination of Peopleclick Authoria and Aquire should be on your list of vendors to assess. If you balance the evaluation criteria for assessing vendors and products with an eye on usability, manageability, functionality, adaptability and reliability, you should be able to find the best offering for your needs.
Team - Ventana Research