Mercer is a global consulting company that has more than 19,000 employees in more than 40 countries. One of the company’s major consulting practices is talent management. My colleague Mark Smith assessed Mercer’s survey delivery product WIN for compensation management in September 2011. Mercer recently held an analyst day in Boston where speakers discussed the launch of a new internal group focused on talent management and a new talent management suite sold as part of its consulting services.
This year Mercer consolidated its talent management practice into one group. At the analyst day the company announced the release Talent Impact, a suite of talent management products and consulting services that it will formally launch at the HR Technology show in October. These two developments form a more integrated approach to talent management and acknowledge the increasing demand of customers for integrated applications instead of individual point products. Other human capital management consulting vendors are building similar talent management packages; one example is Talent REWARD from Towers Watson.
Mercer has organized the Talent Impact suite in five “solution offerings” or consulting practices. They are Forecast, for workforce planning and analytics; Engage, which focuses on managing expatriates while on assignment and at different points in the employee life cycle; Mobilize, to manage international mobility and mobile reporting and analytics; Reward, which combines compensation benchmarking, position management and rewards; and Assess, a set of 360-degree performance assessments and simulations. All five of these areas include an analytics component for which Mercer is using MicroStrategy software. Yet these are basically stand-alone offerings, and Mercer has not yet done the work to create an integrated product. Today Talent Impact is more a concept than a unified suite, although the company plans to make it one.
This is not to say that Mercer isn’t doing integration work now. It is adapting some of its strongest products to create an integrated offering called Reward. This should take advantage of a market opportunity exposed by Mercer’s own research, which shows that only 24 percent of organizations have workforce plans that are highly effective in meeting business needs. The work done for Reward has integrated Mercer WIN ePRISM, its market leading compensation benchmarking and modeling product that includes a global database of over 100 countries, with Mercer eIPE for position management and Mercer Analytics. Mercer’s advantage is the quality and quantity of the benchmark data it can bring to the solution. This can especially help large global organizations that have employees in many locations and are trying to understand issues such as workforce turnover or trying to do workforce planning. In addition, it pulls together compensation and talent information to do planning; our benchmark research on compensation management finds that the number-one barrier (for two-thirds of organizations) to impactful compensation is lack of integration to talent management.
Mercer may find it challenging to manage the complexity of the individual modules of Talent Impact. Building a product suite must include managing all the parts of a development plan for a unified package; that could be difficult for a consulting company. To that end, Mercer has hired several people with product experience, including Lisa Sterling, formerly of Ultimate Software, to help execute the product management and development functions. Later on it will be important to ensure follow-through with functions like support and hosting as upgrades and enhancements occur, to show clients the benefits of investing, including strong service, and ensuring reasonable costs while avoiding expensive upgrades for each item.
Overall I believe the direction Mercer is taking with the new team structure and the Talent Impact suite is a good one. Vendors of human capital management software have been successful in persuading customers to purchase multiple products that address related processes because they are well-integrated. Talent Impact can be Mercer’s way to provide the same value proposition to its clients. Organizations that are evaluating talent management consulting firms should consider what Mercer now has to offer and additionally assess its existing and new software offerings.
VP & Research Director