This morning I learned of Taleo’s purchase of Learn.com through a Bersin e-mail alert. Bersin goes on to say:
” This announcement marks the beginning of a fundamental change that Bersin & Associates projects in the stand-alone LMS market. Our research shows that this market is rapidly bifurcating into integrated talent management systems and highly specialized learning systems.”
While I understand this trend of leaders in Talent Management software (SuccessFactors, Taleo, Peopleclick Authoria, Kenexa) growing through acquisitions and it doesn’t come as a surprise, I think what’s happening is bad for customers. All these vendors are good at only specific parts of the TM process (like Recruitment, Compensation or Performance) . The part that made them a leader. (Taleo with recruiting, SuccessFactors with Performance…) They are often poor or mediocre at other parts of the process. Customers buying these ‘integrated talent management suites’ are often locked in to a suite and have to re-engineer their processes to map to the mediocre or poor parts of the suite, losing some of the complexity and richness they enjoyed in the software they used to manage the process previously. Furthermore, the promise of integration is often superficial. Data from one part of the suite does not seamlessly flow to another.
I think this approach of buying one tool or suite that does it all seems outdated. When you see what’s happening outside the world of Enterprise Software, we see that a bunch of sites and platforms interacting seamlessly (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Picasa etc. etc.) What might be useful is to build a framework like Open Social specific to Talent processes and data that allows seamless flow between different TM tools and other related platforms like ERP, CRM and Enterprise Social Networking and Knowledge Management.
footnote: I think this post relates to my previous post on fB Places and checking in. fB places is guaranteed to be popular because it’s got a captive audience of 1/2 a billion. Yes, more people will use it because it shows up in an app they already visit. But it does not have the richness of foursquare. foursquare was purpose built to do check-ins. It has interesting game elements, badges etc….And it even integrates with fB. But fB users will see none of that richness of foursquare.