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The Industry I

(January 17, 2007)
  We got a phone call from a writer from an Industry Magazine. We talked for a while about the meaning of Vurv's recent acquisition of a small firm called People Business Network.

Vurv (formerly Recruitmax), a global leader in technology and services for building great workforces, today announced that it has acquired People Business Network (PBN), the leading provider of on-demand workforce optimization solutions that help Fortune 500 companies proactively monitor workforce transitions, analyze workforce metrics, and automate workforce deployment processes.

The acquisition will add two key components to the Vurv talent management suite: offboarding (employee separation management) and human capital analytics and dashboards. The acquisition of PBN also extends Vurv's integration, compliance and workforce planning capabilities.

The timing is interesting. Coupled with a lesser trumpeted layoff, Vurv faces a tightening market, stiff pricing competition and a less than stellar reputation for installation and service. The layoff was overdue and the acquisition provided marketing cover.

In the enterprise segment of our industry, there are no more new customers for Applicant Tracking Systems. Everyone has one. About half are built in house, the other half procured from vendors like Vurv, Kenexa, Taleo, Workstream, Authoria, Peopleclick and so on. That is 3,000 potential contracts (There are 6,000 discrete divisions in the Fortune 2000, half of whom are customers in this market.)

An Applicant Tracking System is a commodity technology that is only ever purchased for legal reasons. An ATS can provide the customer with the necessary statistics to defend against EEOC compliance issues. Rarely do they actually deliver deeper or richer functionality. Talent pool management tools are almost the only exception.

In order to deal with the downward price pressure and market saturation, most of the players are turning to any shred of evidence that they can offer that proves they are in the "Talent Management" Business. While Authoria, Success Factors and (maybe, just maybe) Kenexa are legitimate players in that space, everyone else is just a pretender.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that Talent Management was just another fad in the Recruiting Software sector. In the long tradition of dressing up the pig, each new year brings a thematic focus for the marketing efforts at trade shows. Coupled with important decisions about how to fit the logo on this year's giveaway socks, marketing departments try to deliver standout messaging.

This year's theme is going to be "Talent Management". That's what Vurv's announcement means.

John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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