The Race to Platform Continues: SumTotal Buys Accero & CyberShift

The People Impact Technology Race is On!

The HR vendor landscape is changing rapidly as we have seen with recent consolidations by Infor (Lawson), Peoplefluent (Aquire), and SuccessFactors (Plateau) as well as SumTotal’s announcement today to buy Accero and CyberShift.  One way to look at this consolidation is that there are too many vendors and not enough differentiation for them all to survive.  Though this is true, I believe there is a larger force at play here -  now, more than ever before, businesses need to get business results from their people-based systems.

In my soon-to-be-released report, “People Impact Technology Framework,” I describe the forces at play in moving from HR-centric technology to Business-centric technology.  New applications that are designed specifically for business users, with the goal of improving their work and planning capabilities, are emerging and getting the attention of executives. However, this new category of applications – those that deliver direct value to business – put even more pressure on underlying foundational architectures.  These “platforms” must be agile, complete, and inter-operable within the stack.  Only with integrated data and transactions can business leaders gain proper insight for planning decisions.  Meanwhile, the results from those decisions are only as nimble as the foundation allows for new data collection, changed processes, updated organization models, and follow through of strategic talent programs.

In the new vendor landscape, there will be just two types of providers: platform vendors and innovation vendors.  Platform vendors will have invested in the agile supporting architecture, unified the framework layers and created strong integration plug-ins for add-on capabilities.  Innovation vendors will have invested in the “business”  layer along with the ability to plug their solution into strong platforms.

So, it is not surprising that SumTotal – up until yesterday, a Talent Management Suite provider – has made a move to become a platform vendor by adding core HR, Benefits and Payroll via Accero and Time & Attendance, Labor Costing, and Workforce Management via CyberShift.  This is a strong move in the right direction, but as with many of the other vendors making this play, there is much work to bring the pieces together and build out an agile, unified foundation to support the goal of delivering value to the business.

Bottom line: To meet the future demands of business, the stakes are rising for HR vendors.  An integrated talent suite will not be sufficient, on its own, to deliver the business results expected from people technology.  SumTotal has made a strong play in the right direction.

Your POV: What is your experience with these vendors? Do you see an advantage by bringing these pieces together in your business?  What are your concerns?

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