Mark Smith's Analyst Perspectives

SumTotal Systems HCM Portfolio Advances in a Mobile and Social World

Posted by Mark Smith on Oct 12, 2012 12:29:53 PM

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

Topics: Social Media, Human Capital Management, Mobile Technology, Recruiting, Social Collaboration, Business Analytics, Business Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Business Performance Management (BPM), Talent Management, Workforce Management, Workforce Performance Management (WPM)

Mark Smith

Written by Mark Smith

Mark is responsible for the overall direction of Ventana Research and drives the global research agenda covering both business and technology areas. He defined the blueprint for Information Management and Performance Management as the linking together of people, processes, information and technology across organizations to drive effective results. Mark is an expert in technology for business from Performance Management, Business Intelligence, Analytics to Information Management across finance, operations and IT. Mark has held CMO, product development and research roles at companies such as SAP, META Group, Oracle and IRI Software. He has experience across major industries including banking, consumer products, food and beverage, insurance, manufacturing, pharmaceutical and retail and consumer services.