Will a Move to the Cloud Make IT Irrelevant?

An impressive number of IT and Business leaders from across EMEA have converged  upon Dubai this week to participate in Oracle’s CloudWorld, an executive event focused on the disruptive technologies of social, mobile and, of course, Cloud.  The Dubai event is the first in a series of conferences that will take place in select cities across the globe through April 2013.

One of the common conversations taking place amongst conference delegates is the impact of these technologies on the IT organization – fundamentally, is cloud making IT irrelevant?

The reality is actually just the opposite: embracing cloud and other disruptive technologies enables the IT organization to rebalance its investments in core infrastructure to embrace more strategic investments in integration, intelligence and innovation.

Constellation Research has published extensively on this topic, and I presented on it as well throughout 2012. Embedded below is one such presentation, taking a look at the evolving role of IT organizations as the Future of Work unfolds, including top priorities, key challenges and required shifts in thinking. Whether focused on Infrastructure, Integration, Intelligence or Innovation, the “I” in the “IT” Organization is morphing to match the needs of the organization, taking a more business-focused point of view.

Click here to view the presentation:  The Evolution of IT Organizations in the Future of work

For additional thoughts on the hybrid IT environment that is likely emerging in your organization as a result of partial cloud adoption, check out this article and published research, also by Constellation.

Contact us at Constellation Research if you would like to discuss our research on this topic in more detail.

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Oracle Unveils New Social Relationship Management (SRM) Platform

 

Today Oracle announced its new Social Relationship Management (SRM) Platform, an integrated software platform that helps organizations listen, engage, market and monitor their social interactions with all of its constituents across the enterprise (prospects, customers, influencers, partners, candidates and employees.)  

Oracle has been engaged in social-enabled business for a while, delivering Oracle Social Network and bringing social collaboration into processes like Fusion HCM via Fusion Network at Work.  Today’s announcement takes Oracle well beyond social conversations into a comprehensive platform play.  It is leveraging several of its acquisitions from earlier this year (Vitrue, Collective Intellect and Involver) to round out its initial offering in the SRM suite, but the vision for the SRM platform spans the many diverse business processes of the enterprise.

Today, the Oracle SRM suite is comprised of the following:

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The two newest additions to the suite are:

Social Engagement and Monitoring, comprised of Oracle’s recent acquisitions of Collective Intellect and Involver, provide a best of breed solution aimed at listening to and engaging in customer in conversations.

Social Marketing, coming from the Vitrue acquisition, marries social channels, content and data with traditional CRM systems to make better decisions around social customer engagement and marketing initiatives. 

Beyond Social CRM – Oracle SRM aims for a holistic view of the individual (employees included)

During the launch, Oracle explained its philosophy of  “building the lifetime customer experience”.  That experience includes concepts such as combining the social understanding of an individual (as a social networker) with the enterprise understanding of that individual (as a customer) to deliver better insights and predictions – for example, not just measuring a customer’s value based on the revenue they bring into the organization, but also on the influence that customer has on revenue through social media.

Oracle envisions extending this holistic insight to the workforce as well. 

Within talent acquisition,  the new SRM platform will enrich the Taleo recruiting offering to bring monitoring, engagement and even social marketing together with Taleo to bolster talent acquisition and retention endeavors. By helping organizations leverage their internal and external social tools to create seamless environments, Oracle looks to help companies turn their employees into  “brand ambassadors” (where they are positively engaged and communicative through social channels to promote the company as a good place to work and/or to do business with). 

Beyond recruiting, the profile of the individual – their combined employee profile as well as social profiles – will be leveraged for greater insight and decision support across the enterprise.  I believe this holistic employee view is at least 12-18 months away from reality (with Oracle focusing most of its initial efforts on the ‘lifetime customer’ side), but I am nonetheless encouraged to hear Oracle presenting this future vision.

My POV:

The social landscape is highly fragmented, with hundreds of technology vendors servicing the many different aspects of social relationship management. While this fragmentation is providing innovation on all fronts, it is also resulting in a fragmented relationship and incomplete insights with customers, partners, and employees. Oracle’s SRM platform, through acquisition and native development, looks to unify that experience and provide a complete platform for end to end support for any enterprise relationship. With more than 380K clients across the world, and with the market for social technologies growing at close to 60%, the opportunity for Oracle is substantial.

Oracle speaks of close to 1000 clients on its new SRM platform, but almost all of these clients come from the recent Vitrue, Collective Intellect and Involver solutions.  Yet the platform presents  a good vision for supporting social-enabled business: one fueled by the opportunities externally and internally to drive new insights and results through effective application of emerging disruptive technologies. 

The technologies used to address people processes – or HCM considerations – are increasingly coming from non-traditional HCM vendors.  A CRM leader, Salesforce.com, is suddenly messaging and delivering in the area of employee engagement and performance.  Social task and project management tools are encroaching upon performance and goal management solution providers.  Even pure enterprise social networking technologies deliver on the fundamentals of social learning and knowledge management.  HR and HR technology leaders will find their areas influenced by these and other emerging tools; staying abreast of the advances in areas like CRM will help these HR leaders envision and plan for their new futures of work.

News Analysis: Further HCM Industry Consolidation as Oracle buys Talent Management Vendor Taleo for $1.9B

Following moves by rivals SAP and Salesforce.com, Oracle expands its offering in Cloud-based HCM with competitive acquisition of leading recruiting and talent management vendor Taleo.

Event: Today Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ: ORCL), the world’s second largest business applications maker, announced its intentions to acquire Taleo Corporation (NASDAQ: TLEO) for $46.00 per share, or an equivalent of $1.9B. This purchase price represents an 18% premium over prior closing price of $38.94, and values Taleo at almost 5 times its estimated sales for the year. (A sizeable premium, but not as high as SAP’s payment of almost 7.5 times SuccessFactors’ estimated annual sales). The deal is expected to close mid-2012. This latest acquisition brings the total to more than $40B that Oracle has spent across 70+ acquisitions.

Taleo, founded in 1999, is a leading provider of cloud-based talent management solutions to over 5000 enterprises worldwide. Its heritage solution is recruiting software, and today it is a clear leader in the talent acquisition market, managing 15% of all US hires and processing up 74M transactions per day. Over the years Taleo has expanded beyond its heritage to deliver a comprehensive talent management suite including performance and goal management, succession planning, compensation management (which it acquired in 2009 through Worldwide Compensation), and learning and development (also acquired in 2010 from Learn.com).

Analysis: This acquisition is the latest in a string of moves by major players, among the most significant in recent months being SAP’s announcement in December to acquire SuccessFactors for $3.4B and Salesforce.com’s announcement in December to create an HCM Business Unit headed by industry veteran John Wookey. In a market which, according to IDC, is expected to reach $8.1B by 2015, these moves make sense as players look to consolidate market share and capitalize on the shift in deployment preferences from on-premise to cloud-based services. An initial analysis of this transaction reveals:

“Taleo brings complimentary solutions to the Oracle Public Cloud.”

Point of View (POV): Taleo’s strength in recruiting and learning fills a significant gap in the Oracle HCM portfolio, which, despite investments over the years, has been unable to attain a market-leading position. Other areas of the Taleo suite face significant overlap with Oracle’s core and Fusion offerings. Taleo was already in the midst of consolidating its various platforms, and this acquisition only adds to the number of platforms under Oracle’s management. I expect Oracle will continue most planned investments in their on-premise solutions (across Oracle EBS, and Oracle PeopleSoft) while accelerating integration between Fusion and Taleo for a more complete cloud offering.

From a cloud perspective, we have witnessed Larry Ellison move from denouncing cloud computing as “nonsense” in 2010 to investing $1.5B in 2011 to acquire RightNow Technologies (cloud-based CRM solution aimed at combating Oracle rival Salesforce.com) and announcing Oracle’s Public Cloud. With this acquisition of Taleo, Oracle adds new and duplicative cloud-based HCM to its stack, and receives much needed expertise in the area of managing a cloud-based business. The image below demonstrates Oracle’s positioning of this acquisition.

With the acquisition, Oracle has a viable alternative to SaaS-based Workday, enabling it to deliver market-competitive SaaS solutions across the people management spectrum, and hopefully stemming the tide of PeopleSoft HCM customers moving to Workday or other SaaS vendors in lieu of a complex upgrade and Fusion integration.

“The Oracle/Taleo combination delivers powerful intelligence and a complete social experience.”

Point of View (POV): The combination of business intelligence from Taleo’s suite coupled with Oracle’s latest analytics functionality can make for a highly differentiated offering in the market. Additionally, Oracle’s Social Networking (and specifically Fusion Network at Work) capabilities can bring much needed social collaboration into the Taleo suite, filling its most pressing competitive gap across its talent management stack. Taleo’s product roadmap prioritized investments in social technologies at the platform level and in turn at the product level to transform traditional processes into highly collaborative solutions focused on end-users. With this acquisition, I expect these investments will cease or at least take a back seat to the integration of Oracle’s social technologies with the Taleo stack. Oracle’s challenge will be to deliver integration that enables innovation beyond simple connectivity between the two technologies.

“The Oracle/Taleo merger improves the employee experience…simplifies on boarding and quickly aligns employees to company goals, and empowers employees with access to learning and career management tools.”

Point of View (POV): The resulting end-user experience will, for the foreseeable future, be a combination of the Taleo and Oracle capabilities, and as such will depend upon integration. Core data integration (HR data with Taleo’s talent data) is straightforward. What will really improve the employee experience will be a unified user experience (common look & feel, integrated and seamless process flows). Oracle does not have a good history in this area, electing to keep its HCM acquisitions largely silod and relying instead upon emerging Fusion applications to provide that unification layer.

For its part, Taleo comes into the acquisition with its own series of disparate solutions. The Learn.com platform is not yet fully incorporated into the Taleo platform, and other solutions aimed at different recruiting markets continue to run essentially in silos. Clearly, there is a tremendous amount of work ahead for the Oracle/Taleo teams, not only in defining an innovative and market leading roadmap, but also in rationalizing a now broader collection of technologies.

Bottom Line for Customers and Prospects: Proceed with Caution.

According to the press release, “Oracle is currently reviewing the existing Taleo product roadmap and will be providing guidance to customers in accordance with Oracle’s standard product communication policies. Any resulting features and timing of release of such features as determined by Oracle’s review of Taleo’s product roadmap are at the sole discretion of Oracle.” As a result, customers and prospects should consider the following:

  • Taleo will continue to operate as an independent vendor until the transaction closes. Current Taleo customers are advised to lock in maintenance and subscription rates as far out as possible, and ensure they are not reliant upon future functionality promises to deliver on business imperatives, as the future pace of innovation on this stack is currently unclear.
  • Following the closure of the acquisition, Oracle will be that single “throat to choke” with regard to product, service and integration issues.  Joint Oracle and Taleo customers should apply pressure appropriately to ensure that seamless interoperability is high priority in the future roadmap.
  • For current Oracle customers, this acquisition brings market leading recruiting functionality and robust learning capabilities to the Oracle stack, as well as comprehensive SaaS-based talent management suite. Oracle customers, especially those PeopleSoft customers considering upgrading to latest releases of PeopleSoft or implementing Fusion, will soon have a viable alternative to moving to a 3rd party solution. However achieving a fully unified HCM/TM solution in the cloud is likely years away, compared to the pure-play Saas vendors like Workday and Ultimate, which are building this combined functionality natively rather than through acquisition and subsequent integration. Weigh your needs for integration, functionality and a simplified technology stack in light of the new risks and opportunities from this acquisition.

Bottom line for the HCM Market: Talent Management as a category is disappearing

The HCM market is shifting away from a feature/functionality focus to integrated HCM, with the remaining talent management vendors competing for a shrinking opportunity in light of the moving market. While Oracle (like SAP) lost HCM revenues to best of breed talent management suites in previous years, an increasing number of customers are looking back to their core ERP vendors to re-evaluate their options for an integrated suite. Over time, acquiring Taleo will give Oracle the best of both worlds – market leading functionality delivered in an integrated environment, delivered from a single vendor.

We’ve now heard from market leaders SAP and Oracle. Infor (the #3 ERP vendor) made its move last year to acquire Lawson, including its market leading HCM technology. SuccessFactors has announced its move into the HCM marketplace. Workday continues its drum beat of increasing momentum, and others such as Ultimate and ADP continue to add pressure around SaaS HCM. We can expect further consolidation in this space, perhaps from organizations such as IBM or Salesforce.com making additional acquisitions. Who are the likely targets? Certainly the few remaining publicly-traded companies offering cloud-based solutions, such as Saba, Kenexa, Cornerstone OnDemand and Ultimate. Other privately-held vendors are also potential targets, including an emerging breed of players focused on helping organizations “get work done” every day through SaaS-based productivity tools.

Today’s Oracle/Taleo announcement may herald the end of talent management as a separate category of HCM technology, but on its heels may be emerging a new category of vendor, launching again the cycle of innovation, growth and consolidation.

Your POV:

This acquisition has been rumored for some time. Are you surprised by it? Are you a Taleo customer? What is your reaction? Will you embrace Fusion to achieve advanced workforce analytics or social capabilities? Oracle customers: will you move to Taleo’s recruiting solutions, and how might this impact your adoption of Fusion technologies?

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