HR Technology in 2016: The Impact of Linkedin’s Fall

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I am not one for trends predictions, I talked about that in 2015 before putting HRTechBlog on hiatus for a year, but can’t deny they are popular.  There is a reason that so many people post trends every year.  In fact, my most popular whitepaper ever (70k+ views) was a TA trends report.   People like to know what is coming down the pipeline and what to expect as they set strategies around hr and talent technology moving forward.

After five years as the golden child who could do no wrong in the eyes of analyst, bloggers, conference speakers and investors, Linkedin faced a massive loss in the stock market on Friday losing nearly half of its valuation.   11 Billion Dollars.  And is now a Verb… “pulling a linkedin”

Let that sink in for a moment.

What does this potentially mean for the greater industry of HR Technology and specifically to Human Resource Leaders?  A lot.

Expect VC Investment into HR Tech to Slow in next 12 months

HR Technology has been a HOT market for Venture Capital and Equity Groups since 2012. As an analyst that researches this space I work with investors regularly to determine value of an investment, competition and market share opportunities.  I am often floored at what is getting funding and just how much funding these companies are getting.  If a company that was in growth mode, but not simply growing fast enough could collapse on itself – how will that start up technology ever meet the insane unicorn valuation placed on it.  When Sequoia Capital chairman (one of the premier VC groups in tech) loses 56 million personally in one day, you can expect things are going to be watched a little more closely.     What happens with Linkedin stock over the coming quarter will have much bigger ramifications on this space.


Technology Advancement will Slow

One of the downsides to the big enterprise full suite solutions in this industry is their innovations are typically much slower to market and even then fall behind the market leader in point solutions.  This has been especially true with both talent acquisition and employee engagement over the past few years.  Much of the products used heavily in those markets were not initially built into the core talent management solution a hr team uses.  Acquisitions happen all the time in this space to improve that (Remember Jobs2Web) as it is often cheaper to simply buy than it is to develop.   If funding drops, there will be a lot fewer of these start-ups and point solutions to choose from.  When the market was in a similar situation in the late 2000’s, the advancement of technology and functionality for human resources was pretty sad.  It happened, but not nearly like any of us that are short sited enough to only remember the last 5 years expect.

Improving the Value to Users

A quick google search shows you results of millions of websites, posts and articles complaining about Linkedin.  The UX is outdated and difficult to navigate, the new products are released without really explaining what they are or how to best use them, the email marketing isn’t even smart enough to connect directly to what I click on, the “job match” is a challenging area, and the mobile app…well…it leaves A LOT to be desired.   Its borderline unusable.

More and more vendors will start customer advisory panels and are already working with us to conduct lost lead research.  They are taking hard looks at the ease of use and wasted functionality.  They are looking at ways to protect their users – even if it is from other users. Not a lot of vendors like to hear areas of improvement.  But ones that are looking at the long term – are the ones that will be around and have great NPR scores.I have learned, more often, vendors want to hire me to consult, but really just to come in and tell them how great they are.   I won’t do that.   I am brought in with the understanding that investors, users and employees of that company are relying on me help guide a brand and product to be great – not great “wink, wink”.   

Also, If you really want some “trends” for 2016 here they are:

  1. Employee engagement is HOT HOT HOT in 2016
  2. National conference attendance will decrease
  3. Predictive Analytics will be accepted more broadly
  4. Recruiting CRM vs ATS won’t be a thing – we’ll just seen a combined category
  5. Company Culture at a Vendor will come into play for Selection
  6. Candidate Experience is Important – but not because its “nice”
  7. ROI of Talent and analytics will still not be as important as it should be


  1. Bonifer says

    Thanks for the post, Sarah. A beautiful map of the territory. HR tech is an area that’s new to me. Our offering–organizational storytelling–isn’t automated. HR automation, a phrase I heard for the first time only yesterday, sounds, to my ear, like an oxymoron, like the work it does is turn people into machines. I came out of Disney, and one of the great joys of working there when I started was watching the animators animate by hand, on paper, which was in its last days. Animation got automated. Take away the cartoony accoutrement in their workspaces, and we’d be hard-pressed to tell today’s Disney’s animators from its IT developers. This is where the enterprise HR tech solutions don’t do it for me. They flatten work that’s already flat. The opportunity I’m seeing with HR tech is to dimensionalize and materialize it in our workspaces. World building, AR and VR, point, woven and stacked solutions, etc But not enterprise. The leadership of a dimensionalized organization will maintain and strategize around nodes in its network. Some companies will give these nodes playful names. They are the same companies that give their conference rooms playful names today. Nodes will eventually take the place of what we today call ‘departments’ and ‘divisions’ of an enterprise. Acquisitions will either become new nodes in the network or merge with an existing node. Each of the nodes will be managed with a combination of data and story analytics. And one day, there will be a CEO whose workspace is a music studio. She will perform fifteen minutes of improvised music every morning. The workspace will be wired to translate the music into operational and story language that can be shared across the enterprise, offering leadership, insights, and solutions that, because they come from music, will resonate with employees and customers. I’m riffing on all of it after the Disney, of course, but I like it, and I’ve seen enough slivers of it to know it’s a possible future for work. It’s a better fate, anyway, than filling out fields in flat forms all day long, in a Brazil-meets-Office Space movie. Thanks again for the post. I learned a lot!

  2. recruiting management system says

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  3. […] Sarah Brennan, who has a popular HR Technology blog, recently wrote about the state of HR Tech in the wake of a downdraft in the LinkedIn stock price. […]

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