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This week Peoplefluent announced that it has invested in Socialtext, a company that provides social collaboration software at the enterprise level. With this strategic investment Bedford Funding, the private equity firm that owns Peoplefluent, is the direct beneficiary. Peoplefluent will extend Socialtext into the human capital management market while continuing to let the company meet the broader market interest in its offering. Peoplefluent has moved quickly to make this application and platform available to its customers.

This acquisition is spurred by the need of businesses to integrate social collaboration into human capital management. Our benchmark research on Social Collaboration and Human Capital Management, soon to be released, finds that 45 percent of organizations will fund social collaboration to support their talent management needs. The up-and-coming Socialtext is based in Palo Alto, Calif., which gives Peoplefluent a presence in Silicon Valley, where many social media and collaboration technologies have been born. Peoplefluent, which has been adding more people- and process-centric capabilities to its applications, can use Socialtext as another avenue to help individuals maximize their potential. Socialtext’s innovative collaboration environment has a dashboard but is really a collaborative portal framework in which other applications that comply with the Google OpenSocial standard can embed content and services.

Socialtext enables private and public group collaboration and project management. It also offers individual collaboration and communications with what it calls activity streams. The social networking approach lets individuals ask questions, post comments and provide feedback. The software also has capabilities to create content from blogs and wikis, and its Socialtext 360 matches people based on their interests to facilitate coaching and mentoring in the organization. Individuals can create teams whose members are physically located in different geographic areas. Socialtext also works with spreadsheet inventor Dan Bricklin, who co-developed VisiCalc in the 1980s and has been advancing SocialCalc, an open source, JavaScript-based spreadsheet that could integrate analytics within social collaboration technology for ease of access and review. In this approach, the numbers in spreadsheets become focal points for collaboration, and the software provides an environment in which to discuss actions and decisions based on the business analytics.

Not long ago, Peoplefluent acquired Strategia, a learning management system, to address the growing need for online learning within its application suite. This acquisition provides organizations the critical ability to develop and maintain a robust library of content and to track compliance with policies and regulations and also mature the competencies of its talent. Peoplefluent Learning can integrate with Socialtext for social learning. Strategia provides significant capabilities for creating and cataloguing learning content and tracking who has and has not viewed it. Together, Strategia and Socialtext will power a new generation of social learning within Peoplefluent’s portfolio of applications.

Peoplefluent uses tablets as a platform for a new class of manager applications that bring together tasks from team building to performance and compensation reviews, expanding what is possible with mobile computing. Peoplefluent’s native applications are in the Apple application store, and its frequent updates, such as recent support for the new iPad, are what customers expect in tablet software. Socialtext was advancing its capabilities to operate on tablets which will advance Peoplefluent efforts.

Our new research on social collaboration shows that organizations are making knowledge sharing, collaboration and learning top priorities for social collaboration, and Peoplefluent is capitalizing on this trend in software for human capital management. The research found that critical workforce metrics include employee satisfaction (69%), employee retention rates (62%) and leadership development (58%), as having employees engaged and interacting with others provides a sense of belonging and encourages contribution. With Socialtext, Peoplefluent has the human capital fabric to integrate its applications and processes for connecting people who have common responsibilities and interests. This sort of social collaboration to support employee engagement will become a standard way for organizations to operate, and Peoplefluent is positioned to be at the center of this opportunity. The company faces some challenges in rapidly integrating the acquired products, but I expect the process to go more quickly than you might think thanks to the open standard used at Socialtext, and the fact that Peoplefluent has been using Socialtext internally and is familiar with its capabilities.

Organizations that want to find ways to retain and engage their talent should look into how Socialtext operates as it becomes the focal point of Peoplefluent’s portfolio of applications for human capital management now combined with social collaboration.

Regards,

Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer

Competition in the human capital management market rages on, with application suppliers racing to provide sophisticated applications that operate in the cloud. Cloud computing is a key factor in advancing human capital management, included in our research agenda for this area, along with analytics, collaboration, mobility and social media.

Workday recently unveiled version 16 of its suite of applications for financial managementhuman capital management and other areas, including payroll, project management and spend management. Key advancements in the software include Workday for Mobile, which brings a new look and feel, native support of the Apple iPhone and iPad and a new HTML5 version that can work on Apple and Android-based mobile platforms. Unlike most application providers, which have picked either native or Web-based versions, Workday decided to support both approaches. The Web-based version works on the RIM and Microsoft mobile platforms as well, even though they have smaller and declining market shares. Workday 16 supports many of the capabilities you would expect to find in a workforce management product, including time and attendance and also organizational chart capabilities. On tablets it creates a series of application workflows called work feeds for areas including performance management and collaboration using analytics and metrics to help managers assess the performance of their teams. These work feeds are supported by a visual workflow designer that can help users adapt the applications to their organization’s business processes. The well-designed applications feature usability and simplicity, and are well worth the time to evaluate.

In human capital management, Workday provides improvements to the onboarding process and support for automating the population of I-9 and benefits forms. It also has made the employee and manager work environments simpler to engage with on a daily basis. For compensation, it can allocate a pool of funds to be used in merit increases as part of the performance appraisal and recommendation processes. Compensation management is an area that Workday will need to continue to improve upon, as is support for modeling and planning across all types of workers in an organization and our benchmark on total compensation management finds an expanding set of needs. The software’s payroll capabilities can support more than 100,000 workers, a level of processing that enables Workday to provide very large employers with its processing capabilities.

Workday had been partnering with Taleo to accelerate its investments in recruiting and bringing both internal and social media sources to bear on optimizing the talent pool. Our recent social recruiting benchmark research shows that HR is expanding its reach to social sources like LinkedIn and Facebook. Recruiting talent is half of retaining talent, and both of these are key business priorities. Workday will need to explore other partnerships to provide a more complete solution in the short term while it determines a longer term strategic approach.

Workday faces heightened competition from other human capital management application providers who provide core HRMS, talent management and workforce management like Sum Total Systems along with Oracle and SAP, which have made large, expensive acquisitions to address gaps in their human capital management application suites. Oracle recently acquired Taleo. While Oracle continues to have its executives make snide comments about Workday that are easily refuted, Oracle has its own challenges in the adoption rate and readiness of its public cloud offering, as I have written (see “Workday Rising while Oracle Sleeps in the Clouds”). SAP, also feeling pressure to advance in cloud computing, acquired SuccessFactors and is integrating those product offerings with its own existing cloud and on-premises applications.

Workday is now a force to be reckoned with in human capital management. Its continuous quarterly releases of new capabilities have enabled it to quickly improve its application suite. The company could grow even faster if it would make its mobile demonstrations freely available so anyone can appreciate the capabilities that I have seen through its demonstrations. If you wonder what the next generation of human capital management is shaping up to be, look at what Workday 16 is delivering today.

Regards,

Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer

Mark Smith – Twitter

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