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Recruiting Talent Management Technology Trends

Are Today’s Integrated Talent Management Systems Bad for HR?

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For almost as long as the technology has existed, “they” have told us that integrated talent management systems were the future of human resources technology.

They told us these bundled software products were going to revolutionize the world and save human resource professionals from the silo’d existence of stand alone solutions that were separating them from their “seat at the table.”

They pushed a integrated solutions agenda that has reached the hr professionals from every angle (the experts, analysts, consultants, bloggers, vendors, etc) and the impact on the industry – specifically the corporate HR buyer isn’t better off for it.

“They” were wrong.

Conceptually, the idea of a truly integrated talent management system is great.  Having a single solution that provides best in class technology from recruiting to retention to everything in between should be THE CORRECT goal of all technology vendors and human resource professionals.   Executed correctly, technology like this would truly revolutionize the knowledge share, metr

ics and strategic value a technology package could provide to an organization.

In reality,  its not how it works – And here are 3 reasons this agenda has been bad for HR Tech buyers.


1.  No Vendor Does It Right. Yet. 

All vendors in our industry started with a specialty in a single segment – recruiting, performance, learning, etc.  As this “integrated talent management” concept got hot – like all good businesses should do – they followed the demand of the market and the direction of the analyst commentary and built out “end to end” solutions.  But most of them really didn’t.  They bought other products that could be added on to their own as a module – often not even correc

ting and streamlining a consistent user experience (UX/UI), or they built out a base line product that was “fine” but not best in class – so they can say they offered it.    

Just because something is workable, doesn’t mean its right or the best they can do.    If your clients (or you as a HR Leader) have to buy another standalone system (ATS, Performance, Etc) to put in front or in tandem with yours – you are doing it wrong.

2. Less competition means companies are losing. (or just spending more)

In recruiting specifically, the acquisitions of most of the major applicant tracking vendors over the last 4 years has left a huge void in this segment of the market.  For large enterprise clients in all segments, you have really just a couple of choices – and those are usually made as part of a larger ERP or TM play.  5 years ago, there were more than 50 relevant

, applicant tracking systems on the market for mid-market (2,500-15,000 employee companies) to evaluate and select from.  Today, I would say there are less than 10 (really closer to 5 IMO)  if you don’t want/need the total solution and want any level of robustness.

Practitioners looking for a point solution in many of the other subsegments of the market are finding the same issue.  Not only do you have a smaller number of quality products, but what constitutes a quality point solution is largely not advancing as they should – none of them outshine the others.  They are all facing their own issues, product depth and design challenges that leave many buyers underwhelmed.  But with no real competition out there for stand alone solutions – what other options do companies have.

3.  User Adoption & Execution is Failing.

For companies that have found and implemented integrated systems – and been able to work with them in their process, its unfortunate to see how few actually take the HUGE AMOUNT of data they have available to them and use it for true, strategic guidance on everything from sourcing to learning/development to retention strategies.      These systems sit as untapped gold mines at most organizations ready to solve the issues of tomorrow and provide key business information, that executives outside of human resources don’t even know exists.

If this seems like an advocacy of integrated talent management – it’s because is.   As I said earlier, conceptually, the idea is great. Vendors, Analysts and Consultants have just been off the mark with really helping companies understand how to maximize and exploit the benefits of these systems.    The vendors could provide a huge level of service to the buyers (and their investors/shareholders/etc) by truly understanding the business and creating training that is not only product based, but common sense and strategically sound.


From a business perspective,  I work with the vendors.  A lot of them.  I help the ones that want to be better, innovative or disruptive – design products and roadmaps to solve these issues and educate the market.    But,  I also work with corporate HR teams, and am a former practitioner myself.  I see the real impact, I hear the challenges, I FEEL the frustration felt when I sit in meetings with HR executives who just want a solutions that fits their process, or don’t understand how to integrate their 20 different systems effectively.    

I am under no misgivings that these are risky thing for me to say – my outspoken (and honest) assessment of the industry has led to me getting blocked from certain industry events and pulled off  “analyst” lists by people who appoint you such things.  But, I still spend my days trying to fix the issues and improve the products (and use of products)  in our space.

And, my integrity, respect and passion to build a better HR Tech industry is worth more than a paycheck.  

So I challenge every vendor out there to do better. 




Sarah Brennan

Sarah Brennan is a recognized HCM industry analyst and advisor focused on improving the impact of technology on people, business and the future of work.  Sarah Brennan has been named a top global influencer in HR Technology by more than 50 publications and shared her insights at speaking engagements around the world. As Chief Advisor at Accelir, she partners with HR Technology vendors and investors as an advisor, interim CxO role and on engagements focused on growth strategies, product roadmap & market education/evangelism. She also works with corporate teams enhancing talent strategies.

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