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During its annual industry analyst summit this week, human capital management software vendor SumTotal Systems introduced new heads of finance, marketing and sales, and talked about expanding operations in Europe and Asia-Pacific – all part of a business growth strategy that I am sure the company’s private equity owner is expecting. While I wrote about the company earlier this year, SumTotal now says it has signed up 85 new customers so far in 2012 for its human capital management suite, and its 3,500 customers include brand names such as McAfee, American Express, US Airways and EastWest Bank. Customers United Airlines, POET and McCain Foods made presentations at the summit that illustrated why SumTotal is a relevant and strategic HCM provider.

SumTotal Systems this month announced a new release coming in Q4 that introduces workforce planning, builds on its workforce analytics and provides flexibility in the integration of its entire HCM application suite with its newly expanded portal for employee and manager self-service. The new software provides better unification of employee data within SumTotal through master data management (MDM). The company is expanding its social recruitment capabilities through a partnership with Bullhornour benchmark in social recruiting found social recruiting is essential to getting access to new talent pools and gaining a competitive advantage in hiring practices. SumTotal will need to elevate the visibility of its recruiting application, as many potential customers do not know it has a solution that addresses the social media channels and job boards.

SumTotal Sytems says it aims to provide a best-in-class strategic HCM suite and is focused on value creation for its customers. It plans to advance its pace of innovation in mobile and social technologies. The company wanted to communicate the strategic importance of its mobile technology advancements, as it has begun to release applications from learning to workforce management on smartphones. SumTotal has ensured it is ready to expand on mobile technologies by using an architectural approach that supports HTML5 to ensure support across a variety of platforms, including Apple and Android. Even so, the company must provide free access to its mobile advancements so customers can try them without requiring approval from SumTotal. Our benchmark research in next generation workforce management found rapid growth for tablet usage, from the current deployment at 28 percent to 34 percent in the coming 12 to 18 months.

On the social collaboration front SumTotal builds on top of Microsoft SharePoint, extending it to support a range of SumTotal applications and services and letting customers integrate all of that with their environments. Our research found that collaboration is the top technology trend in 70 percent of organizations which has accelerated requests to vendors like SumTotal to advance these capabilities. One of its customers at the analyst summit, McCain, talked about publishing between SumTotal and a SAP portal and collaboration environments in a unified manner. I hope to see more examples of this type of integration in the future.

SumTotal said at the summit it is committed to providing the best workforce analytics capabilities. It now provides workforce planning in its HCM environment, providing a unified approach that encompasses everything from analytics to planning capabilities. It can deal with headcount, salary planning, determining the impact of compensation and merit planning. This is a significant advantage over other HCM providers that have only the ability to perform historical analysis. The appetite for workforce analytics is growing; our latest benchmark research shows 61 percent of organizations are looking to improve their analytics in the next year.

To ensure that organizations can get access to all of the critical workforce data, SumTotal has taken an open approach to the underlying data models. Customers can use its MDM and integration capabilities to get data from other cloud computing environments or on-premises applications or from ERP systems and other HR, talent management and workforce management environments. Our benchmark into information management found that 37 percent of organizations say integrating employee information and MDM is critical. The SumTotal HCM Hub Architecture has a SOA and enterprise service bus that can be used to interface to other environments. SumTotal is going to great lengths to have a properly designed architecture that will help it advance its innovation, be flexible for customers’ integration needs and release new applications in a timely manner.

Overall SumTotal Systems’ application suite does more than just meet the needs for core HR functions and talent and workforce management. It also advances into the mobile, social collaboration and social media technologies that have become critical components of every organization’s practices to hire, engage and retain members of the workforce. If you have not considered how you can move to a unified approach to your human capital needs, SumTotal is one of the few providers with a portfolio of applications that can meet your needs today and in the future.


Mark Smith

CEO & Chief Research Officer

This week I’m at the 2012 HR Technology Conference (Twitter: #HRTechConf) where the scene is more than cool – it is hip. In the past several years technology for human resources – now more often called human capital management – has transformed from administrative software to applications anyone in the workforce can use to access information about their company, job, goals, performance, pay, benefits and even what they can do to advance in the organization. HR technology is embracing the six most important current technology trends, namely big data, business analytics, business collaboration, cloud computing, mobile technology and social media. At this year’s conference, the focus on business collaboration called social collaboration and mobile was front and center.

Over the last decade, employee and manager self-service applications have become available for rent via cloud computing and software as a service, letting companies pay only for what they actually use and not what they plan to use. This week’s conference saw an onslaught of new announcements about unified talent management and easier-to-use applications. New technologies for social collaboration and mobile computing provide new methods for workers, managers and the entire workforce to collaborate at any time. That follows the findings of our latest benchmark on the next generation of workforce management, where collaboration was the top technology trend in 70 percent of organizations, and practices such as broadcasting a la Twitter (30%) and wall-posting as with Facebook will be two of the top five adopted methods for collaboration in 2013.

At the HR Technology Conference I saw dozens of new HCM applications that use collaboration technology that is referred to as social collaboration. Globoforce is using social collaboration in its employee recognition software to help organization ensure the proper level of thanks to their workers. Peoplefluent was showing its latest and upcoming integration of acquired Socialtext as part of talent management processes and its social HCM suiteSaba was showing its People Cloud, which used social collaboration technology to support the range of learning and talent management processes which I have used and is more functional than any others in the industry. SuccessFactors, now part of SAP, was showing its Jam enterprise social collaboration technology. There were many other vendors that are embracing social collaborative capabilities and the largest challenge is whether it is available in software today and if it can be evaluated without sales intervention which many software vendors are beginning to provide.

Mobile technology is also becoming a big factor for HCM. Our benchmark research finds organizations will be deploying more tablets; 17 percent of organizations currently use them, and 30 percent have plans to deploy them. Smartphones are even more common; two-thirds (67%) of organizations use them today. At the conference vendors introduced a slew of new applications and capabilities to take advantage of the mobile revolution. Kronos previewed its latest tablet applications for worker management and workforce analytics. Kenexa demonstrated its latest tablet applications for hiring hourly workers its Kenexa Hot Lava Mobile makes it easy for employees to get the training they need on smartphones. Oracle showed its latest tablet application, Oracle Fusion Tap for HCM. Peoplefluent unveiled its latest in mobile talent management suite for the iPad. Saba also demonstrated its latest release that was announced that has native support for Apple and Android technologies which our research shows as the most popular devices in use for organizations. SumTotal Systems announced and showed its latest HTML5 for supporting mobile workforce management that does not require a native application environment. Workday showed how its human capital management applications operate across smartphones and tablets to ensure anytime access to employee information and what has come out in its last releases of Workday 16 and Workday 17. There were many more examples of using mobile technology and organizations should ensure they can try them directly on their own smartphone and tablets to determine if they meet the usability and manageability needs of business without significant IT intervention.

At the conference I spoke with HR professionals about the business case for investment and the difficulty in justifying new investments. Today HR budgets are very limited, and investing in technology advancements requires larger budgets that must be approved by the CFO and heads of business units. Getting such approvals requires presenting facts on the value of investments in  increasing productivity and getting more value from the workforce. The value must exceed the value of software for just managing hiring, performance, learning and compensation and accessing employee information. HR must demonstrate the new applications’ value for line-of-business departments to increase revenue, provide better customer service, take actions on issues and improve their ability to achieve goals and reach milestones. A smart business case shows the benefits of investments and comparisons to existing approaches, and illustrates how time saved does not just reduce costs but can be used to pursue new business and drive alignment to monthly, weekly and even daily targets.

Mobile and social technology is changing the way we engage and retain our workforce. Our research agenda in human capital management has empowering a mobile and social workforce as one of the three key technology trends that organizations must assess and act upon to maintain a work environment that keeps talent in the organization. This technology is not just about HR anymore; it is about people and the workforce. A future of social collaboration and mobility is where the industry is going, and vendors are moving quickly to support this new demand in their products.

All HR organizations should plan to use social and mobile technology to improve employee satisfaction and engagement. It is becoming a business necessity to recruit, engage and retain talent in a workforce. They should provide tools that workers and managers can use to interact and gain satisfaction from getting their jobs done efficiently. Don’t be left behind; start by exploring the free trials and demonstrations that available from vendor websites or in mobile technology application stores such as Apple’s App Store.


Mark Smith

CEO & Chief Research Officer

Mark Smith – Twitter

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