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Not So Suite After All?

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Everyone loves a good Magic Quadrant story—so here’s one you might enjoy.

On Friday last week, Gartner released its first “Magic Quadrant for Talent Management Suites” report. Of course, Magic Quadrant reports have been around for quite some time—offering readers a unique methodology for visually pinpointing leaders and visionaries in a particular business arena—but this was the research firm’s first exploration with talent management suite vendors.

I was curious to see what analyst authors Thomas Otter, Jeff Freyermuth, and Ron Hanscome had to say about this category. Apparently, the research firm has hesitated to highlight this area in the past because, as the three authors wrote, “the vendor community has over-hyped the talent management suite for some time.” (And we tend to agree—at Jobvite, we’re big proponents of the best-of-breed approach when it comes to finding the right recruiting and referral solutions. If you’ve seen our Can the Suite Compete? ebook, you’ll know why.)

Fans of the Magic Quadrant (like me) know that, normally, these reports are full of excitement and anticipation. They usually speak of the wonderful, innovative progress we can expect, and the ways in which all the profiled players are delivering on their promises.

But this, oddly, was not that kind of Magic Quadrant report.

Instead, this document basically told readers to stop expecting so much from the talent management suite. I’m not overstating that. Otter, Freyermuth, and Hanscome, known for their both insightful and practical advice, actually wrote, “No one vendor dominates all components of the suite” and “In most cases, buyers will need to make some compromise on component functionality in order to commit to a suite.”

Compromise on functionality? Really?  Yes, really.

Other areas where the three authors found fault with suites include:

·       Integration (“Gartner client inquiries cite issues with the level of integration between organically developed and acquired modules…”)
·       Complexity (“Customers report unnecessary complexity in the sales cycle due to the…acquisition…”)
·       Customer satisfaction (“Customer references for both support and products are in the lowest quartile…”)

Frankly, we at Jobvite think Gartner got this right.  We do believe compromises are made going the suite route.  We’ve written before about the risks of suite solutions, particularly following acquisitions. Big companies buy smaller companies and try to mash together applications that were never built to integrate. It causes frustration and delays, and it can make achieving ROI notoriously difficult. This Magic Quadrant report simply verifies what we’ve said all along: When you’re looking for innovative functionality and ease, along with focus on customer needs, suite vendors can’t really compete with best-of-breed solutions.

Another thing to note in this report is that recruiting solutions are not at the forefront of any talent management suite vendor’s offering. That’s because none of the so-called leading vendors are fully equipped at this point to handle the ways in which the “Nexus of Forces”—what the authors call the big trending influences such as social, cloud, and mobile technology—are affecting usage. Otter, Freyermuth, and Hanscome suggest that customers will be driven to consider solutions from those best-of-breed vendors that innovate in social, cloud and mobile, particularly when it comes to recruiting. (And, as one of those innovative best-of-breed vendors, we again tend to agree.)  I strongly believe that the way employee’s performance will be reviewed years from now, or they way they will learn on the job years from now, and of course, the way the are found, engaged and hired, years from now, will not be the way it is done today…and that way will not come from suite innovations, but instead from best-of-breed, focused companies that are committed to on-going, important innovation.

Have you read the Gartner report? What are your thoughts?

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