Type to search

HR Technology M&A Activity Recruiting Technology Trends

The HCM market trends in 2013 (post Oracle/Taleo, SAP/Salesforce)

For the last few years it was hard attending any major industry event and not hearing whispers about Taleo getting acquired by ______.  The buyer changed, but the understanding remained that Taleo wouldn’t be just Taleo for long.   With the SAP acquisition of SuccessFactors, the Oracle acquisition of Taleo seemed imminent more from a brand and marketing standpoint than technology.   For Oracle, this purchase could be an expensive way solve some issues around their Fusion (SaaS style solution) product and learn to capitalize on marketing to HCM buyers, which Taleo is exceptional in.

With rumors that ADP or SalesForce could announce a major purchase as well in this space – the result will be a very different looking vendor landscape (not product) trends for Human Capital in 18 months.

  • ATS becomes the “Hub”: Much like we have already seen with the smaller scale integrated platforms – organizations that have invested in total business technology, will seek out stand alone solutions to manage true best in class solutions.  In Recruiting technology for example – the core solutions offered by Taleo, SuccessFactors & Kenexa (The only big one still not acquired) are good.  In fact, they are “best in breed” if you ask most analysts.  They leave a lot to be desired for how recruiting is actually done if you ask many users.   The additional systems out there are starting to integrate more closely and as will only continue to do so as more organizations have to use the “included” system due to larger corporate purchase.
  • Stand Alone Solutions Drive the Innovation:    As the acquisitions of companies like Jobs2Web and Rypple have shown us – its easier for the big guys to acquire than develop now.  (See my Why VC loves HR post)   Teams at the big solutions are expansive, intelligent and understand enterprise buyer needs – but the flexibility and speed of delivery often inhibit development of next generation solutions.  By comparison, a company only focused on one portion of the process can respond to customer needs in days or weeks with true product depth and usability features often only experienced in consumer tech.
  • MidMarket Boom:  The leaders of the HCM market (Events, Analysts, Products) notoriously focus almost exclusively on Enterprise only in this space.  Vendors have also popped up with a specific focus on small business and big brands like Taleo have acquired products to offer a small business solution.  But our space seems to be forgetting all about the companies that are actively buying in the 5,000-25,000 employee category.  With major industry consolidation and longer term contracts in total business platforms, the market will have to shift to this largely ignored segment for ongoing growth.  The battle for this market is going to heat up – opposite of the enterprise buyer, many of them may shy away from the products they once would have considered due to their affiliation with large ERP solutions.Two vendors that have successfully marketed to this group (ICIMS & Silkroad) never seemed to get the same respect because they weren’t “enterprise competitive” – even though they have amassed a huge number of clients between them.


The acquisitions that have taken place over the last few months have primarily benefited the strength of the “big players” like SAP & Oracle.  It has also knocked out direct competition from the enterprise level best in analyst accepted breed products from both Talent Acquisition & Performance Management – moving the industry closer to this idealized concept that one day all companies will buy only one solution.   The reality of the next few years will include the one solution purchase – with many standalone external products completing the buyer experience, much like cell phones and apps in the consumer market.







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.

  • 1

You Might also Like


  1. Lisa Scales February 9, 2012


    Great post and the landscape is certainly looking different looking ahead in 2012/2013 – I was asked today what I thought of the Oracle acquisition of Taleo and I had a similar feeling when I heard the SAP/Success Factors/Jobs2Web acquisitions – consolidated markets offer opportunity to smaller agile companies and by them becoming part of a big wheel will only succeed in making their cogs slow giving me and others a chance to realise those opportunities 😉

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that the best of breed enterprise vendors leave a lot to be desired for how recruiting is actually done if you ask the user base – this “gap” is narrowing as these vendors are realising that experience/UI/flexibility are becoming as important as scale/security/global footprint – this gap is not narrowing quickly as these vendors have to work out how to solve this issue with legacy systems and architecture – its not an easy job 😉

    So what do I see happening? The big enterprise vendors will keep doing global deals (heard the saying no one got shot for buying IBM?!) but the new marketplace of “middleware” vendors will start to become more important to give flexibility and usability to the end user.

    Anyway just a bit of late night input from across the pond 😉


    1. Sarah White February 11, 2012


      I always love your feedback – on here, the phone or over coffee in London! The global deals will absolutely continue and the smaller products that are actually running the way people do their job, will continue to get overlooked or covered almost as a novelty by most of the major resources in the space.

      See you in Brussels soon, hopefully!

  2. I can’t help but wonder how much of the motivation for Taleo and the other ATS to sell is due to the likely disruption to their ability to charge clients hundreds of thousands of dollars and sometimes millions of dollars a year for software that few users actually like.

    Coming to market now are software-as-a-service (SAAS) provides like SmartRecruiters which offer full featured ATS software that costs the client nothing as integrated partners like CollegeRecruiter.com pay the freight. To make it easy for SmartRecruiters clients to post jobs to our job board through their SmartRecruiters interface, we sell our postings to SmartRecruiters at a discount and they re-sell them to their clients at our standard rate. The clients end up being able to post to our site (and the other integrated boards) much more easily, get much better tracking, and pay nothing extra. We get far more volume with virtually no customer service or sales time required. Win-win-win.

    1. Sarah White February 11, 2012

      Without turning into an advertisement for any one solution (cough, cough) – Yes – there are a number of other applicant tracking and performance management solutions in addition to SmartRecruiters, that provide innovative products with enterprise abilities for a fraction of what the big guys were playing. And many of these solutions have client numbers in the hundreds or even thousands – just opt to minimize marketing spend in order to provide a lower cost product.

      The mid-market solutions out there, have a large number of Enterprise clients using them in front of their other solutions.

  3. Sap HR August 6, 2012

    Really interesting, thank you for this post.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *