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Workday to Tackle Talent Acquisition

Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: November 15 2012

One of the major announcements at the recently held Workday Rising 2012 conference was that Workday will develop its own talent acquisition suite from scratch and deliver it  in early 2014. This is a major departure from the vendor’s signature policy not to announce any vaporware. But, during the Workday Technology Summit (which preceded the conference), Workday executives said they needed to make the announcement out of consideration for their existing customers as to what to do about their recruiting software plans. To be fair, Workday has always delivered its solutions as promised on time.

Unified Recruiting Process

Workday’s rationale is that it wants to circumvent traditional applicant tracking systems (ATS) that typically comes with a host of disparate “edge” solutions, such as human resources management (HRM), talent pipeline analysis, referrals, candidate relationship management, background checks, social recruiting, etc. Current ATS are rigid, complex, hard to use, and designed primarily for compliance. Historically, these technologies have done an inadequate job of helping companies collaboratively manage the recruiting process from start to finish, and as a result, managers often use cumbersome spreadsheets to make up for system shortcomings.

Workday already has the applicant object and basic ATS capabilities (hiring requisitions, etc.). But the upcoming Workday Recruiting suite is expected to transform the recruiting and talent acquisition process by delivering the complete solution for hiring teams, seamlessly unified with core human capital management (HCM), from the initial planning stages all the way through new hire onboarding. Workday plans to base this unification on what it already has in its other solutions, such as the following:

  • A business process framework (BPF)—a built-in and mandatory workflow engine in all software design

  • Built-in analytics

  • Built-in collaboration tools

  • A simple, fresh, and mobile user experience (UX)

  • Its own integration layer (former Cape Clear)


The recruitment module will be an add-on, giving the customer the chance, I assume, either to go the Workday route or to stay with Kenexa or Cornerstone OnDemand, who are currently the partners for recruiting (and learning management). Workday will not attempt to develop what LinkedIn, Lumesse, Jobvite, etc. already do well (candidate sourcing), but will try to offer everything else. During the discussion, some analysts warned the vendor that recruiters are very territorial and they do not care for this unified visibility, but hiring managers and HR departments will likely be interested. LinkedIn has allowed companies to self-source candidates rather than always using recruiters.

Pushing the Envelope

Workday is constantly pushing the envelope in the enterprise software arena. A scout often ends up with the most arrows in the back, but he or she may also stand as the big winner. The "not invented here" attitude is a big issue for Workday, in my opinion, and I am not sure when the company will break even if it wants to deliver everything on its own. I have a feeling that management is not really focused on profitability in the near future, but rather they are trying to recreate a category in order to have a place in enterprise applications industry history.

Workday admits that “social” is not in its DNA, but “collaboration” is—sometimes a business starts with a conversation rather than with a transaction. To that end, Workday is introducing workgroups, with the ability to share documents and comments, lead with conversations, put notes on objects, create comment streams, and manage ideas and organizational goals, with extended support for attachments, etc. But this looks like a "me too" feature—Salesforce Chatter and Microsoft Yammer have long offered this functionality, and Workday already integrates with Chatter.

A winning strategy is often based on momentum, not on being the best solution for a given scenario. It’s too early to say whether social capabilities are required for all business issues. If Workday can gain enough momentum, its collaborative capabilities may satisfy most of its customers. The fate of the recruiting suite will be similarly resolved—Workday strategists may be proven to be geniuses, or they may fall on their face. We'll see who jumps on this bandwagon. Large-scale independent recruiters are unlikely to accept this strategy. But if momentum works in Workday's favor, it may be able to bypass the big recruiter.

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