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Much has happened for SuccessFactors in the past year as it became more a part of SAP, which acquired it in 2012.  One of the most notable changes was the departure of its founder, Lars Delgaard, who set the culture of the company, and the selection of Shawn Price as president. The changes in leadership have come as SuccessFactors shifts away from its position in “business execution” software toward a HR and talent management suite, which aligns it more with what SAP has. (For background, see my colleague Mark Smith’s report shortly after the acquisition.) Since then, SuccessFactors and SAP have worked at strengthening several parts of their human capital management product by connecting it with its new payroll software and more recently its HANA in-memory processing platform. The products, however, remain separate. These advances should be well received by both existing customers and those considering either its new payroll system or SuccessFactors’ HR management and talent management systems.

The biggest announcement of this kind was made at the 2013 SuccessConnect event in October, where Price revealed that SuccessFactors applications will be running on SAP HANA, which now runs almost all of SAP’s enterprise applications. Mark wrote about SAP HANA following the 2013 SAP SAPPHIRE conference. Since the SuccessConnect event, SuccessFactors has made some progress toward putting the release into production. Specifically, as of the release SuccessFactors designates August 1308, its Talent suite has been tested on HANA and is now available to beta customers. The company plans soon to launch its workforce analytics product on HANA as well.

In addition Employee Central, SuccessFactors’ HR management product, and SAP payroll products now work together more. As most HR management systems are well established, Employee Central is a relative newcomer, and SuccessFactors has continued to enhance the product over the year or so it has been on the market. The simplicity and user experience of Employee Central is worth seeing how the face to applications and information is changing for SAP. While users of SAP Payroll still have to perform many activities in the older standard SAP user interface, Employee Central users can handle some common payroll tasks directly within the more intuitive Employee Central interface. That said, this is probably where some of the greatest complexity lies in integrating SAP and SuccessFactors applications. Although there is a shipping product that is somewhat integrated, I still advise due diligence for customers, which often have complex and custom requirements for both HR and payroll functions. Making sure you understand how the application addresses configuration requirements in the new integrated environment is important to a successful implementation.

It is noteworthy that Employee Central includes the Workforcevr_ngbi_br_importance_of_bi_technology_considerations Analytics product. This is one of the best HR analytics offerings on the market today because of its usability. Unlike many analytics systems, which provide dashboards with visualization or metrics in a report and then leave it to the user to understand much of the data, the SuccessFactors analytics product provides a plain English interpretation of many of the results it shows and includes an interpretation guide within the system to help users understand common HR terms and the purpose of the analysis. It was so forward thinking that it won the 2012 Ventana Research Technology Innovation Award for overall business innovation. Our benchmark research on next-generation business intelligence shows that the most important technology consideration is usability, which more than three out of five participants (63%) selected, and SuccessFactors offers that.

SAP Jam is another product that has been tied into SuccessFactors’ HCM suite and thereby advanced its business collaboration vr_socialcollab_supports_talent_managementcapabilities. SuccessFactors has worked to develop collaboration capabilities of SAP Jam and expose those capabilities to other products within the SuccessFactors suite, most notably Employee Central and Learning Management. In both of these cases, several collaboration features from Jam are embedded within the products, making social collaboration stronger for both the suite and the core SAP Jam. Picking core HR Management and Learning Management as the initial integration points for SAP Jam matches well to our benchmark research on social media and HCM, which shows that knowledge sharing and learning are among the top five goals of social collaboration.

One area in which SuccessFactors and SAP both are lacking is a competitive workforce management product. However, last year they filled the gap by announcing a partnership with Kronos to integrate its Workforce Central product. Our 2014 Workforce Management Value Index provides in-depth reviews and comparisons of the vendors and products in the workforce management market, and I recommend consulting it to see how SAP shapes up.

As SuccessFactors continues the process of migrating into SAP, it has strong products in many segments of HCM, though the messaging it now uses to describe their value seems to less aggressive than before. However, its completed and planned integrations as well as the recent Kronos partnership strengthen its position in the HCM market. As 2014 gets under way, we will get into the details of several SuccessFactors products, with a more in-depth look at its compensation management, analytics and payroll products as we launch Value Indexes in each of these areas. SuccessFactors’ improvements over the past year are worth checking out as you look to determine what HCM systems will work best for your specific needs.


Stephan Millard
VP & Research Director

2013 was a big year for the annual HR Technology conference, as its well-known co-founder and leader for the past 16 years, Bill Kutik, stepped down, passing leadership of the event to Steve Boese, another familiar name in the community. Beyond the change in leadership, at this year’s show were a large number of vendors that have invested in new technology to advance human capital management (HCM). Overall I noted several interesting trends, some that were similar to those I written about earlier in the year and others that reflect the evolution of innovations seen at last year’s show, specifically expanding the use of mobile access within applications and further extending business collaboration into HCM platforms. In addition, there were other advances driven by market factors such as growth in new recruiting technologies.

There were many newer vendors at the show, and updates to existing products focused on helping companies better manage different parts of the employee recruitment process, a growth spurt that likely corresponds to the ongoing economic recovery. These vendors included Jibe, which showed new recruiting analytics that can help organizations gain visibility into their recruiting activities via features such as improved location analytics and recruiting stage analytics showing where candidates are coming from and where they are dropping off in the process. Another vendor was Zao, which created technology using social media to make the referral management process a more effective part of the recruitment funnel for candidate sourcing. In addition, several others small and large made announcements, such as Ultimate Software, which announced a redesigned recruiting offering; Oracle, which announced several recruitment-related products at OpenWorld; and Talemetry, which partners with many of the larger vendors in the market and continues to invest in its market-leading recruitment product. All of these vendors and others in the recruitment market are making products that have changed what’s possible with recruiting software. It used to be largely about applicant-tracking automation and streamlining, but now it is includes effective recruitment marketing and analytics, as well as more effective matching through big data.

Another significant highlight at this year’s show was how mobile access has become table stakes in most human capital applications. While mobility was an important trend at last year’s show, this year it is not a secondary application but a core part of the application design of many leading systems across HCM segments. Hunite presented an extreme example of how far a vendor can go with mobility in human capital at HR Tech’s Awesome New Technologies session. Its mobile technology helps users gain unified read/write access to all of their HR systems, regardless of vendor, on their mobile phones. And with the fall 2013 release of its system, SumTotal centers on the mobile user, making its entire system fully mobile and optimized for touch screens, and has deepened the platform’s social capabilities to extend across multiple parts of its product line. Cornerstone OnDemand, as I discussed earlier this year and again in the September 2013 release, built core mobile capabilities that are becoming the foundation of its application. Also, Workday has made strong investments in its mobile applications in releases 18 and 19, which I wrote about.

It is worth noting that not just the smaller or best-of-breed vr_nextgenworkforce_mobile_device_deployments_increasingvendors have reached this tipping point. Large ERP vendors Infor, Oracle and SAP have also successfully released mobile capabilities within their HCM applications. Oracle has completely mobility-enabled its current release of Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud with HTML5 and released a full-featured version of Oracle Tap, its native mobile device application. SAP SuccessFactors also has mobility-enabled most parts of its HCM application, giving managers and end users easy-to-use tools. Infor has started to release mobile applications that are integrated with different parts of its HCM offering. The trend toward mobility in human capital applications has been reflected several times in our benchmark research, which shows that in the workforce management segment more than half of organizations have already deployed smartphones and tablets. And this is a growing priority, with approximately one-third presently using these devices and 18 percent planning to deploy more of them.

Another trend that is approaching a tipping point is business collaboration functionality embedded in HCM applications, a topic we discussed last year as well. While not as mature as the evolution of mobility within HCM, business collaboration is powerful. In past years business collaboration has existed mostly in the recruiting and learning segments of HCM products. However, vendors have now extended it into other processes within HCM, and deeper within those products. In the best-of-breed category Peoplefluent, which received this year’s Ventana Research Technology Innovation Award for Business Collaboration, has embedded business collaboration capabilities and real-time communication capabilities across its product suite. SumTotal Systems and Cornerstone OnDemand also extended business collaboration outside learning and recruiting, though both historically are learning system vendors embedding business collaboration capabilities in performance management, core HR management and other application areas. TribeHR, which is being acquired by NetSuite, provides core business collaboration capabilities that span its suite of HCM products for small and midsize businesses. Vendors including Oracle, SAP and Infor similarly have started to embed business collaboration in core processes of their HCM suites. SAP is using the SAP Jam product to build business collaboration across most of its HR processes such as performance, learning, onboarding and HR management. Similarly, Oracle uses its Oracle Social Cloud infrastructure to provide business collaboration capabilities across its HCM applications. Also, Infor has created Infor Ming.le, a business collaboration product that embeds business collaboration capabilities directly into the company’s HCM suite. Other and not as well known providers like Newsgator provide a social collaboration platform that can integrate to other HCM offerings like Oracle and SAP and can be used as an employee portal and also accessed via mobile technology. Another great example is RoundPegg that takes the context of culture and uses collaboration to engage employees on the mission, values and goals of an organization.

vr_nextgenworkforce_which_collaboration_technology_capabilitiesAlso new this year are more extensive business collaboration capabilities in workforce management systems. Several vendors, including market leaders ADP, Ceridian, Infor, and Kronos have increased workforce scheduling efficiencies with Twitter-like broadcast capabilities and Facebook-like wall posting to help workers find shifts they want and help managers fill them more effectively. According to our benchmark research on next-generation workforce management, these are in the top five most popular business collaboration capabilities. Our upcoming Next-Generation Workforce Management Value Index will evaluate leading vendors in this area of business collaboration.

The growth and evolution of recruiting, mobile access and business collaboration in HCM are trends that benefit HR leaders by helping them meet their ultimate business goals more effectively. Such investments by vendors are also making the user experience more compelling and will therefore improve usability, which our benchmark research shows is the most important factor in evaluating technology products. So take a look at these new and updated products if your business is going to be conducting an evaluation in the coming months. Used correctly this next generation of products can improve the way your processes flow, the quality of your information and the way your people interact.


Stephan Millard

VP & Research Director

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