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February 1, 2013 in Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Mobility, Cloud Computing, Financial Performance Management (FPM), Governance, Risk & Compliance (GRC), Social Media, Workforce Performance Management (WPM) | Tags: Compensation, Human Capital Management, IBM, Kenexa, Learning, Performance, Recruiting, Smarter Analytics, Smarter Workforce, Social Business, Social Collaboration | by Mark Smith | Leave a comment
IBM held its 20th annual IBM Connect conference (previously known as Lotusphere) as part of its IBM Social Business efforts at the end of January. The conference focuses on business and social collaboration technology, which our business technology innovation research found to be the second-ranked priority for business innovation. At the conference IBM made a series of significant announcements, including a new version of its social collaboration suite, IBM Connections, and the ability to use the software on a cloud computing platform.
In the mid ’90s Lotus Notes and Domino led the market with the first true business collaboration and communications software. Today, after decades of fierce competition with Microsoft and its Office and SharePoint offerings, IBM is innovating (in a much more serious way than I have seen from Microsoft) to gain growth in the new market for business and social collaboration software. It is a good time for IBM to aggressively expand into the market, as our research finds only 25 percent of organizations are satisfied with their social collaborative capabilities. These have been dominated by shared folders and documents (86%), videoconferencing and instant messaging (66%), yet those applications are only a small piece of what social collaboration is about.
IBM has been adding business collaboration features over recent years with new capabilities that include activity streams, broadcasting, instant messaging, videoconferencing and wikis. All are part of IBM Connections 4.5, along with content and document management. With IBM Docs people can collaborate on a range of documents, including spreadsheets, presentations and word processing. IBM has advanced the user experience and integrated its collaborative and social software into a unified user experience. IBM is also making the software available on Apple, Android and BlackBerry smartphones and tablets. Our research finds Apple to be the first-ranked priority for smartphones (50%) and tablets (66%), followed by Android on smartphones (27%) and tablets (19%). Though BlackBerry (which just announced the change in its corporate name from Research in Motion) is a distance third for smartphones, it still has a loyal following that also uses IBM software. Our research finds Microsoft at the bottom of business and IT buyers’ priority lists. IBM is also expanding its social collaboration support for mobile technology to operate in an offline mode which is essential and has also addressed the need to secure sensitive communications and content.
IBM also maintains a strong installed base with Notes and Domino. IBM Notes and Domino Social Edition 9 is expected to be available in March and brings an innovative approach to blend social collaboration within electronic mail that many will really like IBM innovative approach. Businesses that do not use Notes, which make up the majority of the industry, can examine IBM Connections.
IBM is also moving fast to ensure that its offering is available in cloud computing. IBM SmartCloud for Social Business will make it easier for organizations to get started and use the software without the need for servers, storage and other internal IT resources. This is an important step to bring its offering to a larger audience that may not have the IT resources or budget to support new business collaboration efforts. The software helps streamline the cultural transition to using social collaborative software. IBM has introduced adoption services with a range of models, processes and education. This investment is critical to get organizations to step into the new world of social collaboration and increase the confidence level of organizations in this approach; today only 17 percent are very confident and just 38 percent are confident.
IBM has completed its acquisition of Kenexa, and at IBM Connect seemed to indicate it has settled on some specific areas of focus that blend learning and recruiting with social collaboration. It has taken steps since my analysis at the time of the acquisition to address many of my concerns. In addition, IBM introduced its new Employee Experience Suite, which is designed to provide an interface to business priorities and work like an employee portal. IBM also touted its new social learning offering, which when delivered will leverage its existing software and what the company purchased with Kenexa. I would like to have seen more on how to leverage Kenexa OutStart mobile learning. The potential in social learning is significant, and IBM’s product offerings put the company on a short list of providers who offer integrated social learning today. More broadly, IBM’s efforts to bring social collaboration to human capital management come at a time when our research into HCM shows that knowledge sharing, collaborating and learning are key priorities in organizations today. IBM will need to invest further to bring into IBM Connections more from Kenexa of what is needed in talent management in recruiting, performance and compensation. IBM has a great opportunity to expand its position with Kenexa recruiting customers that use both its software and its services and get them to use more IBM social collaboration and workforce analytics software.
IBM spoke at the conference about its Smarter Workforce Analytics Suite, designed to address workforce analytics and predictive hiring analytics, but I did not see this software leveraging the company’s business intelligence or workforce analytics solutions. The tandem of this software foundation, the IBM Research and global business services organizations, and the analytic services of the Kenexa organization has the potential to advance the necessary process of moving off of spreadsheets to a dedicated business intelligence tool to meet the needs for workforce analytics and planning. We have found in our research a significant move by businesses to improve workforce analytics in 2013, with 61 percent of organizations indicating they have plans in this area. Also most HR organizations are still working on advancing beyond the use of spreadsheets and reports indicating a lower level of maturity than what IBM might expect. This could be an opportunity for IBM if they fully utilize the core technology of its business analytics software and that I wrote about last year.
I was impressed with IBM’s advancements in social collaboration at Connect 2013 and its commitment to usability, which our research found to be the highest priority (64%) in choosing technology, followed by reliability, since technology in use across an organization must be able to scale and perform. Organizations that have not considered IBM for social collaboration should examine the new version of Connections, since it offers a powerful set of unified capabilities that encompasses mobile technology. The top benefit to such software according to 72 percent of organizations in our research is better communications and knowledge sharing, and Connections has the power to deliver that. However, IBM should also embed its social collaboration features in other business applications, as that is still a preferred method of accessing collaboration according to 43 percent of organizations. One area that I expected to see more highlighted was its integration with IBM business analytics software which is one of the top use cases for using social collaboration in the enterprise and that IBM has integrated already.
IBM is taking a significant step forward to bring Smarter Workforce into a highly competitive market for human capital management. This is confirmed in my colleagues (Stephan Millard) research agenda for human capital management, that the pace of innovation in 2013 will be significant. IBM new offerings and approach are ones to watch but make sure you are able to get something for use today in your business and not have to wait for the future. IBM is a vendor to watch for its ability to help organizations of all sizes with social collaboration and human capital management.
CEO & Chief Research Officer
June 8, 2012 in Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Business Performance Management (BPM), Cloud Computing, Customer Performance Management (CPM), Financial Performance Management (FPM), Operational Performance Management (OPM), Sales Performance Management (SPM), Social Media, Supply Chain Performance Management (SCPM), Workforce Performance Management (WPM) | Tags: HCM, HR, Human Capital Management, Performance, Recruiting | by Mark Smith | 2 comments
I attended SuccessConnect (Twitter: #sconnect), the annual SuccessFactors conference, to hear the latest from this talent management applications company. A lot has changed for the formerly independent company since it acquired Plateau less than a year ago and Jobs2Web. In turn, earlier this year SAP acquired SuccessFactors to expand its cloud computing business. Its recently outlined expansion as part of SAP’s overall cloud computing strategy is beginning to take shape.
SuccessFactors is expanding its talent management applications to a larger portfolio of human capital management applications. First, SuccessFactors announced the availability of its Professional Edition, which is focused on providing performance and talent management to small and midsize businesses. It handles employee profiles, goal management, performance management and 360-degree reviews, and includes Jam, the company’s social collaborative environment. Organizations that want to add compensation, recruiting or a more advanced edition of Jam can rent them as well.
Second, SuccessFactors announced it will adopt SAP HANA as the in-memory computing technology for big data to underpin its workforce analytics and planning technologies later this year. HANA should significantly enhance the computing performance of its offering while appearing mostly transparent to organizations. In addition, SuccessFactors has introduced new capabilities to help users develop reports and metrics that can be accessed from not only desktops but also tablets such as Apple’s iPad. SuccessFactors’ product is built on a robust library of workforce content including prebuilt analytics and metrics. Our benchmark research on workforce analytics found that analysts spend two-thirds of their analytic process time on data-related tasks, which includes time wasted using spreadsheets; this product significantly reduces both liabilities. Our recent research on human capital management found that employee satisfaction and engagement is the most important metric in 69 percent of organizations, and reducing frustrations like this can contribute to improving that.
Last is a series of introductions of applications relating to the use of social collaboration and mobile technologies; this expands the reach and value of SuccessFactors to the broader workforce. BizX Mobile Touchbase is a task- and activity-centric application to help users keep track of issues before meetings scheduled to address them. It runs on BlackBerry, Android and iOS devices and can interoperate with other calendaring systems. It can run alongside other BizX mobile technologies such as Jam for social collaboration. SuccessFactors has also released a mobile feature for knowing who is in a meeting no matter who they work for by integrating a social connector to look up individuals in LinkedIn. It supports informal performance management activities, including team overviews and feedback requests to help managers conducting reviews. This feature addresses a need found in our benchmark research on performance management for talent management – more than one-third of organizations see inadequate systems as the top barrier to managing performance. SuccessFactors also advanced its learning offering, the expansion of social and mobile support of expanding the knowledge sharing which our benchmark on social collaboration and human capital management found as the top goal to help organizations advance in 49 percent of organizations.
Beyond these products, which are available today, SuccessFactors unveiled Employee Central, a new cloud-based service for human capital management scheduled for release this summer. It stores employee records and makes them available across SuccessFactors applications, but more importantly it helps managers and employees get simpler access to self-service payroll, vacation and time-off information. This could answer the need of 89 percent of organizations in our research that said existing environments are too complex. Employee Central is a user-centric, configurable application that can provide quick access to a range of human capital information. I was impressed by the simple presentation of workforce metrics in its new interface. In addition, the application is accessible on smartphones and tablets. I think Employee Central has the potential to change the way businesses think about workforce applications. A critical advancement for SuccessFactors is the migration of SAP on-premises payroll technology to now be available in the cloud computing model and part of Employee Central. For example, organizations are always looking for ways to make payroll processing more efficient, since it is one of their largest ongoing costs.
SuccessFactors also demonstrated its focus on recruiting to help attract, engage and select talent for interviews and eventually for hire. It is bringing features from its Jobs2Web acquisition together with SuccessFactors Recruit to promote jobs not only on companies’ websites but also on job boards and social media channels. The software offers many methods to search for candidates, from keywords to location across all channels, including social media, and gain access to new talent pools; our benchmark on social media and recruiting found integration with LinkedIn was critical to more than half of organizations.
SuccessFactors is addressing the broad purpose of human capital management, which is to attract, engage and retain talent to meet business objectives. The company is advancing in a highly competitive market for next-generation applications focused on people and workforces. It has new releases coming across its applications portfolio, including compensation and learning, which I will cover later. But SuccessFactors continues to work with its partners to complement its offering. For example Workforce Software that I have assessed helps manage the tasks related to non-exempt employees that have specific hourly and scheduling related needs. With the transition into SAP behind it, SuccessFactors has the process of integrating its applications with SAP’s well under way. Its challenge is to keep up the pace of product development while educating potential new customers and making successful new deployments across the world. Its technology advances are well worth examining as organizations assess their existing deployments and evaluate new ones.
Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer