The joining forces of two sizable companies, in this case totaling over 12,000 employees, can be expected to elevate both business risk and business opportunity. The risk side of the ledger typically impacts employees and customers. Employees become distracted or have their productivity dip until they know exactly how they will be impacted and what is changing, or even leaving voluntarily. Similarly, a segment of existing and potential customers view a merger as a net positive down the road but face fear, uncertainty and doubt about when those benefits will be achieved. Delays can lead both employees and customers to hitch their wagons to other horses as it were.
Many of us who have operated within the human resources profession or been involved in strategic initiatives aimed at placing the workforce at the center of competitive advantage (aka human capital management endeavors), thought we were at least conversational about predictive HCM tools. We were aware that industrial and organizational psychologists have, for decades, been creating skill- and personality-based assessments using predictive algorithms that stood up to rigorous testing, and how tools such as the Hogan or Myers-Briggs tests became industry standards.
Simply defined, an “HR-M&A lifecycle” is the sequence of critical workforce and HR-related activities and decisions that span due diligence through business integration after an M&A event is announced. Until recently, these potentially game-changing events were not the province or focus of HR technology offerings. This is due in part to HCM systems that, historically, were designed primarily to automate and optimize typical HR/HCM processes and events that occur throughout the year, to better understand and drive employee engagement, productivity and retention, and to mitigate workforce-related compliance risks.
Even the most casual observer of HR Technology trends and associated vendor marketing themes will have noticed that the notion of “putting people first” has become ubiquitous as a way for vendors to distinguish themselves. This has become a double-edged sword. Customers ultimately benefit from the intense competition to add functionality that supports this claim, resulting in richer and more robust offerings. The downside, as is the case when any core plank in vendor value propositions becomes ubiquitous, is that buyers are increasingly challenged by differentiating whose “people first” claims are more supported by product capabilities and plans. Also difficult to discern is which product will translate into tangible business improvements within their unique organizational context.
Ventana Research recently announced its 2021 research agenda for Human Capital Management, continuing the guidance we’ve offered for two decades to help organizations derive maximum value from workforce-related technology investments and initiatives. In crafting this research agenda, we focused on three critical themes top-of-mind for both HCM vendors and buyers: Organizational agility and resilience, worker productivity, and leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning as broadly as practical.