News Analysis: Infor Adds SaaS LMS with Acquisition of CERTPOINT

Proving it has not lost its appetite for acquisitions, on March 4th, 2013, Infor announced its planned acquisition of New York based CERTPOINT Systems, Inc., a SaaS provider of global learning management software (LMS) and learning content management software (LCMS).

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Founded in 1996, CERTPOINT (formerly Vuepoint) offers comprehensive learning solutions including LMS, LCMS, content authoring, competency management, integrated web conferencing, mobile access and social learning to more than 1300 clients across more than 80 countries.  Marquis customers include Toyota, Honda, Motorola, Ralph Lauren, LANCOME and Weightwatchers. Like Infor, it boasts a hybrid offering, delivering on-premises, hosted and SaaS-based offerings; the majority of its clients, however, utilize the SaaS applications, consistent with adoption trends in the human capital management (HCM) market.  CERTPOINT also provides consulting services including content development, implementation and strategic consulting.  It currently employs approximately 50 staff, most based in New York.

The acquisition expands two key areas for Infor:

  • With the CERTPOINT acquisition, the Infor Human Capital Management (HCM) suite delivers a comprehensive end-to-end offering. Tarik Taman, the GM of Infor HCM, noted that, “The acquisition of CERTPOINT will enable Infor to offer customers an end-to-end HCM solution, delivered to help maximize access and business insight and achieve breakthrough performance. In addition to complementary functionality, the acquisition of CERTPOINT sends the signal that Infor intends to be atop the leaderboard of SaaS Enterprise Human Capital Management solution providers.”
  • Point of View (POV): As Infor continues to move its HCM suite of products fully to the cloud (watch for their announcements in this area in the Summer of 2013), the acquisition of SaaS-based CERTPOINT completes the suite with solid LMS capabilities. And in today’s global, virtual and mobile work environments, CERTPOINT’s delivery of personalized electronic content to mobile devices is precisely the type of capability required for business performance.  Integration via Infor’s technology framework, Infor ION, will focus on the HCM products (Lawson HRM, Talent Management and Service Delivery), but will also extend to other Infor solutions to meet strategic opportunities. WebEx Communications is the current partner to CERTPOINT for delivering integrated web training and conferencing; Infor does not currently have a competing offering but I expect this to be an area of development for the Infor ION team in the future. From an end-to-end perspective, Infor is one of the few providers of HR Service Delivery (having acquired this from Lawson/Enwisen in 2011).  The Infor Enwisen platform has served as a unifying solution across all Infor Lawson HCM products, delivering portal, knowledgebase and multi-tiered support across the suite. Integration with Enwisen will bring rapid value-add to CERTPOINT customers.

  • CERTPOINT fortifies Infor Healthcare solutions with critical learning capabilities. Certification and compliance training are mission critical activities in the healthcare industry.  Combined with the verticalized solution for Healthcare from Infor HCM, clients will be able to move beyond certification and compliance to the creation of high performing healthcare organizations.
  • Point of View (POV):  Infor gained a major presence in Healthcare with the acquisition of Lawson software in 2011, and so CERTPOINT’s Healthcare industry solution is a natural launch point for showcasing the combined offering. Infor has, in fact has already begun this push, as it positions richer capabilities for the Healthcare industry as well as increased thought leadership with the hiring of a Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO) to oversee the Infor Healthcare suite. Other industries such as Automotive, Food & Hospitality and Manufacturing  will be early solution targets as well. One of Infor’s points of differentiation is its micro-vertical strategy: beyond the standard 21 or so industry vertical classifications, Infor recognizes the unique needs coming from more than 2000 micro-verticals within these broader industries. CERTPOINT clients will benefit over time from Infor’s micro-vertical focus as this specialized knowledge infuses and expands the capabilities of its nine current vertical offerings.

Bottom Line:  Infor Advances its Move to the Cloud

Today,  Infor is the third largest provider of enterprise applications and services, with a valuation of $16B and five consecutive quarters of double-digit license revenue growth. It doesn’t just compete with Oracle and SAP, however; it increasingly competes with the likes of Workday and Ultimate as clients look to the cloud for Enterprise HCM.  The acquisition of CERTPOINT not only completes the Infor HCM suite, it does so through a SaaS offering that enables rapid, low cost deployment and frequent innovations in a business-critical area.  Additionally, CERTPOINT provides support for the extended enterprise – training for partners, suppliers and customers – including eCommerce capabilities for companies that deliver training for profit. With Infor Ming.le, Infor’s social platform still in development, CERTPOINT’s social learning will also be a welcome and timely addition to the Infor HCM suite.

As always, the devil is in the details, but given that CERTPOINT today integrates with many HCM solutions (including its strategic partner, Ultimate Software), the initial phase of the Infor/CERTPOINT integration should come to market quickly, with more strategic points of leverage following in subsequent iterations.  Infor clients will benefit from this acquisition through the additional depth of learning capabilities; CERTPOINT clients will have a new, integrated path to consider as they evaluate the upgrade or replacement of their current HCM infrastructures.

Related posts:

Event Report: #InforSummit Reveals More Than a Redesigned Infor

Seven Ways Infor is Advancing HCM (Hint: Lawson is but One)

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Moving Payroll to the Cloud? Join the Crowd.

wordcloudIf you’re considering a move to the Cloud for your payroll technologies, you’re not alone.  In a recent survey by Constellation Research, Inc. partner Computer Economics, 40% of companies considering payroll technology investments reported such investments involved a move to the Cloud.

Why the mass migration?  In a recent webinar on the topic, I outlined six key benefits of Cloud-based Payroll.  In short, organizations moving their payroll to the cloud are doing so to reap the many benefits of SaaS while ensuring the core objectives of Payroll are met:

  1. Quality.  Innovations arrive faster and are adopted more rapidly in the Cloud than with traditional on-premises and hosted software.  With true, multi-tenant SaaS, clients are always on the latest release of the software, enabling organizations to move from periodic jumps to continuous innovation in user experience, workflows and capabilities. If you think this doesn’t matter to user experience, think again.  Organizations routinely report higher levels of  satisfaction with the usability of SaaS solutions over traditional offerings across all user roles (end users, managers and administrators).
  2. Cost optimization.  An immediate value to organizations – and a large factor behind the movement of technology buying from IT into the line of business – is how easily and quickly SaaS solutions can be deployed to solve immediate business needs.  SaaS solutions are implemented on average 82% faster than on-premises solutions and require only 22% of the resources in ongoing staff compared to on-premises shops, freeing up members of the payroll team to focus on more strategic initiatives. (Source: CedarCrestone 2012-13 HR Systems Survey, 15th ed.)
  3. Risk Mitigation. While many still cite security concerns as a top reason for keeping payroll technology in-house, the reality is that SaaS providers typically excel in security measures (including access controls, backup and recovery, and myriad other potential vulnerability points) due to the large volume of disparate clients continuously pushing their own systems audits and inquiries. SaaS Payroll providers also take on responsibility for ensuring all legal/regulatory changes are applied, tested and available.  With tens, hundreds or thousands of customers utilizing these services, it ensures many more eyeballs watching for and reporting any occasional “misses” from the provider and an accompanying rapid response to such issues.
  4. Control.  Managing payroll on premises does not guarantee that the payroll organization has the controls it desires over its technologies and processes. (If you’ve ever waited for your IT organization to apply an update or manage an enterprise upgrade, you know this all too well.)  Outsourcing payroll further reduces an organization’s span of control, especially with regard to timing of process flows and reporting/analytics. With SaaS, the payroll organization gets full control over process timing (data entry, audits, check runs, quality checks, adjustments, etc.); anytime access to data, analytics and reporting; and the assurance that the software is always at the latest release with the most recent changes in legs/regs applied and tested.
  5. Flexibility.  SaaS solutions, by design, support the dynamic nature of a business – the ability to rapidly scale hardware needs to support dramatic increases or decreases in resources are inherent to these solutions.  But flexibility in the payroll world also means the ability to quickly integrate to local payroll solutions across the globe, to respond to ever-changing time and pay regulations, and to meet the dynamic needs and priorities of the company.  SaaS-based payroll solutions leverage the emerging best-practices in cloud-based integrations, ensure the fastest time to readiness in response to changing regulations, and provide the foundation for business agility in global operations.
  6. Insight.  Multi-country payroll almost demands a SaaS solution, as it invariably requires integrations to local payroll providers in countries where a smaller number of employees reside or where major payroll providers have not yet standardized an offering.  Those myriad integrations frequently lead to delayed  visibility into the actual payroll costs across the globe, causing surprise ‘hits’ to financials. Just over 50% of global organizations today report having a global system of record, and hence are hampered by not having all the global data transparency necessary for timely, strategic decision making.  SaaS Payroll providers can rapidly integrate and manage a global view of the payroll activities of an organization, both minimizing financial risks while making available a broader base of data from which to glean additional insights.

Furthermore, when part of a broader global SaaS HRMS platform, SaaS Payroll moves from an administrative to a strategic play as it provides the ability for organizations of any size to dynamically scale operations and to securely plug into global capabilities, and thus engage and compete on a global scale.

Many other facets of SaaS Payroll are explored in this webinar, including a view into social enablement of payroll processes as well as how SaaS can future proof the career of today’s payroll leadership.

The question of SaaS for Payroll, or for any other HCM related initiative, has clearly moved from “Why” to “Why Not?”

Catch the webinar replay here:  The Changing Landscape of Payroll: Moving to the Cloud

Disclosure: this webinar was sponsored by Workday, a client of Constellation Research, Inc.

Gifts in the Cloud: Salesforce and Amazon Deliver on Employee Rewards

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Salesforce.com is rolling out its new Work.com platform this week at Dreamforce 2012  (#DF12) in San Francisco.  As discussed earlier this month, Workday features prominently as a critical partnership in the Work.com offering, although it was nowhere to be seen in the “Work.com” product area of the Salesforce Campground on Tuesday evening (“Day 1 at the Dreamforce Expo).

However, what was visible on Tuesday was the new rewards platform in Work.com, where employees and managers are able to earn and award not just badges and points but  now also gift cards as part of the fulfillment component of an employee rewards program.  Here at Dreamforce, Salesforce will be announcing their partnership with Amazon to enable gift cards as a new component of their rewards platform.

Tech-enabled social recognition and performance solutions are on the rise, incorporating peer-to-peer recognition delivered in a social environment integrated with a rewards platform that increasingly includes  gift cards and other merchandise.  The latest strategies take traditional recognition programs focused on event-driven milestones and pre-determined rewards and merchandise levels and transform them into a real-time, contextual social and performance-based solution that taps into the unique motivators of individuals.

In a market that is estimated in size at 2% of company payroll, it is not surprising that Salesforce is expanding its social performance platform to play where companies like Achievers, Globoforce, O.C. Tanner, Rideau and many others have already staked their claim.  Utilizing a cloud provider like Amazon is a natural step for Salesforce, and I expect many similarly situated partners will be brought together into a comprehensive rewards network where companies can plug into and tailor solutions for the unique needs of their organizations and individual employees.

Ceridian Claims its Seat at the SaaS HCM Table

With its acquisition of Dayforce now complete, Ceridian becomes the latest entrant in the SaaS HCM marketplace. Timely execution of strategies and leveraging its differentiators to retain and eventually migrate Ceridian customers to the new platform will be critical factors of success in Ceridian’s transformation from a portfolio-based services bureau company to a leading provider of SaaS HCM.

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