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Market Minute - Episode 005

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0:05 Matt Lafata

Welcome to the April 6, 2011 edition of HRchitect's HR Technology Market Minute, where we give you the skinny on what is happening in the very puzzling world of HR Technology. And today, we'll discuss Peopleclick Authoria's acquisition of Aquire. My name is Matt Lafata, president of HRchitect and I also have with me today Ron Hanscome, VP in our consulting group of HCM System Strategic Planning. And for those of you that want to call in to today's show, you can certainly do that. This is typically very short, but if you're out there and you'd like to call us, you can do that and Tiffany will give you that phone number because I do not have it.

0:56 Tiffany Appleby

Here. If you'd like to call in, if you have a question for Matt or Ron about the topic at hand today, give us a call at 818-337-0008.

1:08 Matt Lafata

Fantastic. Thank you Tiffany. And that's Tiffany Appleby, our Vice President of Marketing and Strategic Alliances. And so, today we are discussing an announcement that came out on April 4, where Peopleclick Authoria announced that they bought Global Workforce Planning and Analytics Leader in Aquire Solutions and from their press release, they state that the combination delivers the most collaborative, integrated talent management suite in the market with deep visual analytics and modeling capabilities, and for those of you out there not familiar with Aquire, they have been around for quite a few years I believe 16 years if I'm correct and they -- last year won top product of the year for Aquire InSight by Human Resource Executive Magazine. So, I guess what I'd like to do Ron, I've got a few comments but I would just like to kind of open it up to you, somebody who monitors this space very closely and deals with a lot of these vendors and a lot of our clients who are trying to make decisions around certainly talent management and workforce planning and so forth. And what's your take on this acquisition, both the pros and cons of it?

2:31 Ron Hanscome

Well Matt, I think that the acquisition really signals, you know at several things from a market's perspective. We have certainly seen execution of some of the talent management suite players, in them executing on a strategy to bring in workforce planning and analytics capabilities into their talent management offerings. Perhaps, the biggest move towards of that was SuccessFactors purchase of Inform last fall. And Inform as you know had significant analytics and had been moved into the workforce planning space, leveraging all of that data, that they had been accumulating for the clients over the last several years. In response to that, Taleo put a partnership in place with Aruspex with another niche workforce planning and analytic spender. And that was their response and if you know Taleo, they do a lot of try it before you buy. And having done that with learn.com and we're like compensation previously. So, we would expect that if that situation proves out with Taleo that ultimately Aruspex will become part of the Taleo fold as well. So now, Peopleclick Authoria is another large player in this space and has made their move focusing at this point on Aquire. Now, as you've said Matt, Aquire has been around for 16 years and began life as TimeVision.

4:07 Ron Hanscome

Lois Melbourne and the company have begun life with a lot of word chart planning kind of solutions, which made TimeVision a pretty strange name for that, but they had certainly broadened out from that sole focus several years ago. And certainly, their products win at the -- from the HR Executive which was announced at the last HR Tech show was very well deserved. I was certainly impressed with their -- the strive that they've made around, utilizing some of their core competencies and really building out their ability to visualize and analyze workforce planning data. And so, from that standpoint, I definitely see this is a positive move and a signal that more and more of the talent management suite players are going to be scrambling to either build this capability organically or add it to their product set. Now, I think the decision has been made to buy rather than build in recognition of the fact that it will take them too long to get there, unless they have an organically developed capability that has been waiting in the winds. So, I think that's initially the comment on the pro side.

5:33 Ron Hanscome

On the con side, there is a lot of activity going out with Peopleclick Authoria at this point with immigration of the traditional Authoria side of the business with Peopleclick. And that acquisition was still really quite a recent in the grand scheme of things. So, the thoughts about Aquire and being added on top of that, there certainly is a long immigration path and I believe that there has been statements out in the market that this immigration is probably going to be a longer term thing and that Aquire will operate fairly independently in the short-term as they deal with immigration on several other fronts, and then ultimately, a pole Aquire into the fold. So, that's my initial take on this move. Matt, how about your thoughts?

6:32 Matt Lafata

You know, it's interesting Ron. Thanks for those. It's certainly acquisitions are certainly not a stranger to Peopleclick Authoria family if you will because Authoria obviously, over the years, made a number of acquisitions and when you hit it on the head is right now I think Peopleclick Authoria certainly has their hands full and still bringing those two products together in a common interface and so forth. And this is really one more piece of that puzzle for them to work with, which I'm confident that they'll do, but you know when I find interesting because one of the things that differentiates Peopleclick Authoria, well they try to differentiate themselves in the marketplace is really around the whole contingent workforce and compliance and diversity and certainly, workforce planning I think naturally plays into that and can have a greater impact in that area, so I think that's certainly a big plus for Peopleclick and for the Peopleclick Authoria organization. So, I'm sure that that was not lost on them at all when they made this acquisition, and do you agree with that about the workforce planning in that area of the marketplace as something that makes Peopleclick Authoria even a further edge when it comes to contingent workforce and compliance and diversity?

8:05 Ron Hanscome

Well, I think that -- I think it would be somewhat of an edge. I wouldn't -- I'd be careful not to overdramatize that and that my view around workforce planning is it should certainly take into account the capabilities that are in that contingent labor pool of an organization as well as the outside labor availability. And so, the more that you know about your contingent workers, the more that you are able to tap those maybe hidden skill sets where people are working, doing a job but they may have a lot more to offer and so certainly our recommendation when we're working with clients is that you put the energy into tracking contingent workers at a same level as you do your internal employees, so that you are able to tap into that labor pool. So, the extent to which Aquire is able to be configured and to be able to tie in to the capabilities of Peopleclick Authoria, to be able to leverage that from a workforce planning perspective that will be an advantage. I think that one of the things that Peopleclick Authoria definitely needs to work on in this integration is to reverse a trend of declining customer service and support that we've seen in working with our clients over projects over the lat perhaps a year and a half. And so, the concern that I would have is so much energy as putting on integrating product that the core capability and that core decision driver as we're working with our clients on projects in system selection is service and support.

9:56 Ron Hanscome

All the wonderful technology that is available, all the elegant data models, all of that stuff doesn't mean much if you can't get good support for your product on an ongoing basis and that's the key driver of customer satisfaction. And so, my encouragement to anyone looking at the Peopleclick Authoria is to definitely watch the service and support, and I have encouraged Peopleclick Authoria to devote equal attention to shorten up those numbers as we frankly just gotten feedback that it makes out a concern for us.

10:34 Matt Lafata

Excellent point. And Ron, one of the things you mentioned earlier, you talked about the only success factors and Taleo having whether it's an acquisition or partnership with the workforce planning vendor. There's really, I think at least in my opinion, is probably a couple of others out there that are leading players of Vemo and OrcaEyes come to mind that probably -- especially with the news of this acquisition are probably looked at very closely by other vendors who want to get in this basis well, don't you think?

11:09 Ron Hanscome

Yeah, absolutely. You know, Vemo is certainly a major player there and Peter Lusche has been around a long time in this workforce planning endeavors and their product is quite mature -- OrcaEyes, a more recent entry but has meet a fairly large splash in the workforce planning market with some of their toolkit and their ability to visualize workforce planning. And also added that knowledge advisers, another -- a boutique workforce planning organization that has some impressive offerings as well. So, I would say those three players would certainly become attractive kinds of targets as the other team as vendors -- if they want to participate in the scramble. Now all does come down to execution. Just having this as a party or product portfolio is one thing and it does certainly simplify vendor management from a customer perspective. However, it all gets down to what steps are being taken to truly integrate at the data model level to be able to fully leverage the capabilities of these vendors.

12:25 Matt Lafata

Absolutely. Well certainly, congratulations goes out to Lois Melbourne and her folks because I know they're very excited about this acquisition and certainly congratulations to Charles Jones and the Peopleclick Authoria people for making the acquisition, and I want to, you know, from all of us at HRchitect certainly wish them the very best of luck moving forward with integration and the acquisition and we'll certainly be watching, and I know the industry will be -- and one of the comments you made earlier Ron is still very important for any organization considering nay vendor to take their time and make sure they do their diligence before moving forward with anybody because this industry is moving at a lighting pace and for the average person to keep up with it is a struggle because we know us who were involved in it everyday are always being kept on our toes with news like this that hits our desks. So, exciting times, no doubt. Any closing comments or if you feel like you've said it all as one?

13:39 Ron Hanscome

I would just add my congratulations to yours. We definitely wish the Aquire folks as well as PCA well with this, and I think that in the end of this integration and acquisition can be well executed, it will add value to the customer base and to any perspective customers.

14:02 Matt Lafata

Fantastic. Well, great. Well, I'm Matt Lafata and thank you to Ron Hanscome and Tiffany Appleby, and we hope that we helped you solve another piece of the puzzling world of HR Technology. Take care everybody.