The Talent Acquisition Vendor Labyrinth

I can’t believe we’re already halfway through January 2015. With our HCM Excellence Conference just around the corner, things are pretty crazy around here. We have a lot of last minute t’s to cross and i’s to dot, and lots to do before we all head to Fort Lauderdale Jan. 28-30. All while staying on top of our regular research projects.

A project I’m working on with Madeline Laurano involves advisory work for a talent acquisition solution provider. They’ve distinguished themselves in the industry by doing one thing extremely well, but have grown their product offering to include other toolsets. Madeline and I are helping this provider reposition themselves accordingly, which is surprisingly complicated.

It doesn’t take an expert to know that the vendor landscape continues to change at the speed of light. One thing that’s interesting is the number of best-of-breed point solutions that are evolving their product offering to include a suite of other tools. Gild is perhaps the biggest and most recent example – having started as a sourcing solution and now they are launching a full suite of talent acquisition modules (which is pretty slick, by the way).

This continued evolution of talent acquisition technology is bringing buyers back to the same old question: Best of breed or integrated suite? It’s an increasingly difficult question to answer, as the scope and function of talent acquisition varies so widely from one organization to the next … and yet a number of solution providers continue to move toward the suite.

As an analyst, it’s important to understand what’s driving this ongoing trend. As a part of this project Madeline and I are working on, I’m trying to figure out where this solution provider fits into it all. This platform features modules for CRM, analytics and reporting, mobile and social, sourcing channel management, and job distribution. However, because they don’t have an applicant tracking system (and don’t touch assessments or onboarding), they don’t really qualify as a talent acquisition suite.

Vendor landscape? More like vendor labyrinth!

Today, there’s more to hiring than tracking candidate applications, and this very obviously is driving demand for technology to support more advanced elements of talent acquisition. Video, social, mobile, and cloud technologies have opened up the floodgates of innovation, which is great, albeit increasingly complicated. Further complicating things is a lack of consistency in terminology for talent acquisition technology. Even the term applicant tracking system can mean several different things.

The rate of innovation shows no signs of slowing – and there are new players entering in the space left and right. Today’s talent acquisition professionals have more technology than ever before, but the process of assessing technology needs and navigating the vendor landscape has become a major barrier to adoption and implementation.

I published a report last year (Talent Acquisition Technology: Navigating the Solution Provider Landscape), that provides some clarity into how the landscape is currently breaking down – including buckets of functionality, common terms, important trends, etc. But if this current project is an indicator, I think I’ll be updating this report again very soon. I suppose you can call that job security.

Kyle Lagunas, Talent Acquisition Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

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