Posted by: Ron Hanscome | January 6, 2010

Peopleclick Authoria: My Take

First off…Happy New Year to everyone! As you can tell, the blog suffered from an extremely busy (yet rewarding) holiday season. Now it’s back to the HCM market, and the year has certainly started on an interesting note with BedFord Funding’s roll-up (Roll-in? Roll-together? Mash-up?) move.

Jason Corsello has put together a post dissecting the deal here that provides some great content and insight (although he did trigger one of my major grammatical pet peaves by using “complimentary” instead of “complementary” to describe the functionality fit of the two product sets -Jason, get yourself an editor…;-). While I generally agree with his analysis and the follow-up comments from others, let me add the following, based on painful personal experience with multiple vendors (including my stint running HCM Apps Marketing at Oracle when the Peoplesoft acquisition closed in late 2004):

  • It is a VERYcomplex undertaking to integrate disparate technology platforms, applications and data models — it always takes longer and is much more expensive than the leaders of the organization think at the outset. Over time this often causes development teams to employ shortcuts in order to deliver some form of integration in a timely manner. The result falls short of customer (and market) expectations, and only after considerable time and effort (and painful “bumps in the road”) does a truly integrated product set emerge (if ever). Does anyone still remember the original promises about Oracle Fusion that were made in early 2005? “Mid-2008” has come and gone…
  • Digesting an acquisition of this sort tends to stifle product feature / function innovation, as a finite development resource must make some very hard choices around keeping integration promises. Again, Oracle’s track record in delivering innovation in the Peoplesoft platform post acquisition presents a stark proof point if you look at what was delivered in 8.9 versus 9.0 versus 9.1 (not to mention the substantially elongated delivery cycle). One could also look at Authoria’s own track record for integrating disparate recruiting, performance, and compensation applications onto a single platform – which took a number of years to roll out to the customer base.
  • From a market perspective, Peopleclick Authoria will certainly be able to play in more components of the integrated talent management market — but it will be quite awhile before all of these parts can be delivered with a seamless user experience, common data model, and integrated analytic foundation — which is what many organizations are really looking for today.
  • It will be critical to the success of this deal for Peopleclick Authoria leadership to deliver extreme customer care over the next six months — including a steady stream of communications around product roadmaps, executive visits to sooth concerns, periodic industry analyst updates, and strong market messaging. Now is not the time to go dark.

My rule of thumb? It will be approximately twice the amount of time initially estimated for delivery of an integrated platform before your organization will be able to take advantage of the new offering. Why so long? Predominantly the issues outlined above; then add to that your organization’s risk tolerance for adoption of new technologies, budget cycle, implementation priorities, etc.

I’d love to be proven wrong on my somewhat pessimistic view…so please weigh in with your comments, supporting or contrary.

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Responses

  1. Great post Ron (and apologies for the bad grammar…i’ve got to get out of the habit of late night blogging when my brain is mush).

    Thanks for highlighting the integration challenges. Beyond the business integration challenges (merging processes, systems, cultures, people, roles, etc.) often the bigger challenge, as you highlight, is integrating the products and technology.

    For many vendors, and I suspect Peopleclick Authoria is in this camp, integration will most likely be “surface integration” or unifying the user experience (ie. creating a consistent look and feel). That’s important but what often gets left behind are the more important integrations such as the application, data model and infrastructure stack. This often requires re-platforming of one or both applications, and, as you suggest, takes time, money, resources and patience — something most private equity firms don’t have (ok…maybe the money part).

    No doubt Peopleclick Authoria has a deep feature set. It will be interesting to see how the product strategy and roadmap evolve.

    Keep up the great blogging!

    • Jason – thanks for your comments on the post – I agree with your take on the initial integration approach that P A is likely to take…however that will not be enough to truly meet customer expectations. They will have to go much further down Bill Kutik’s “Cynic’s 6 Steps to Application Integration” (find it at http://www.hreonline.com/HRE/story.jsp?storyId=11034776 ) to make that happen. And we all know what Naomi would say about the disparate data models…;-). Anyhow, it will be interesting to see what choices are made over the next 3-6 months around integration as well as customer care.

  2. Ron, thanks for dredging up one of my older (April 2007) and most favorite columns. The one dripping with sarcasm that every vendor admitted, after he or she stopped laughing, was absolutely true. And revealed part of the dark underbelly of the software industry.

    If any of your readers have clicked on the URL (I certainly wanted to reread it), they will get an error message because the parenthesis is included as part of the link.

    But it’s there, as cautionary for any vendor who fills out a suite with purchased applications, as it was nearly three years ago.

    Thanks for the memories.

    • Bill, thanks for picking up the link error — I have corrected it.


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