Automation as the Next Big Disruptor?

The Identified Acquisition – a Win for Workday Customers

The focus on HR analytics within the cloud continues with Workday announcing its acquisition of Identified, a predictive analytics software company that uses unstructured data from the social web to provide insights into job candidates and recruiting activity.  Workday relayed that the company’s “product development team is expected to enhance search capabilities and accelerate the delivery of predictive analytics and machine learning throughout Workday’s suite of applications.”

Identified is only Workday’s second acquisition (after Cape Clear in 2008) and represents a rare departure from their organic growth strategy. Workday gains not only leading-edge technology, but also some pretty impressive talent, as the acquisition brings on a team of data scientists and engineers with strong expertise in search, machine learning and predictive analytics, as well as a management team with the intellectual pedigree and entrepreneurial experience reflective of Facebook or Google.

In our view, this acquisition is a welcome move in the market that will enhance Workday’s recruiting solution. Identified fills a gap in Workday’s recruiting solution (targeted to be released in Spring 2014)  by providing leading sourcing and search capabilities, which Workday currently lacks. Identified, through its proprietary artificial intelligence technology, called“SYMAN,”gathers data from key social web sources (e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook, Yahoo and others), matches candidates, and creates a database that is purported to incorporate more than 1B candidates. To date, the strength of Workday’s recruiting product was viewed as the ability to unify recruiting with core HR (internal hiring). Identified’s functionality now enables an ability to provide the best external candidates as well.

The Applicant Tracking System (ATS) industry has undergone criticism as the market innovation that recruiters value has come largely from other bolt-on recruiting solutions outside of the ATS (social sourcing platforms, assessments, video interviewing). SAP SuccessFactors (through their purchase of Jobs2Web), and Oracle Taleo (through their acquisition of SelectMinds) have recognized the importance of social recruitment and have acquired solutions in the market to integrate with their ATS offering. In keeping with Workday’s differentiating strategy, we believe the Identified acquisition provides the opportunity to build leading search, sourcing and candidate relationship management functionality directly into Workday’s platform.  For the increasingly dissatisfied ATS customer base, this promises to be a welcome change in recruiting, and we believe the benefits will go far beyond recruiting.

This acquisition accelerates Workday’s broader analytics capabilities and move to a predictive platform. Building capability in analytics is a top priority for HR and business leaders and will play an increasingly prominent role in HR solutions. The HR analytics market has moved to a focus on predictive capabilities with embedded analytics throughout the application. Both SAP and Oracle have more mature, packaged offerings (SAP has Hana, and Oracle has predictive analytics for talent as part of their HCM Cloud offering). Last year Workday released its Big Data Analytics offering, though clients are still trying to figure out how to best leverage the solution to meet their analytic needs.

With Identified, Workday gains important capability in analytics technology that can be applied not just in recruiting, but throughout the Workday Human Capital Management suite.  Beyond recruiting, the ability to use social data to predict factors such as successful performance or attrition could be applied to areas such as career management, talent assessment and leadership assessment. Machine learning capability could be used for areas outside of talent management as well, including improved workforce planning and time scheduling. For example, the combined strength of headcount and payroll information for both employees and contingent workforce has great potential to enable staffing forecasts.  One thing the acquisition will certainly do is advance Workday’s ability to move to an analytics-focused, predictive platform.

Workday customers will be the ultimate winners here. Recruiting professionals will find the functionality they crave and new value in the ATS. HR professionals and business leaders will appreciate the ability to make improved data-driven decisions. The talent space is moving at light speed – if your platform isn’t, you’re falling behind faster and faster every day.

All in all, this acquisition appears to fulfill the Workday equation of good technology + really smart people = a lot of potential.

To learn more, contact ISG Principal Consultant Stacey Cadigan.

About the author

Stacey is a director and a key contributor to ISG’s human resources and talent-related technology and services. She advises clients on all aspects of human resources engagements, including recruitment process outsourcing and talent management. Stacey is a prolific blogger, and is frequently interviewed by industry publications. With nearly 20 years of experience in solutions strategy, product development, corporate HR, operations delivery, transitions and HR consulting, Stacey has deep operational knowledge of the talent space and her clients’ challenges, as well as a unique ability to ask the right questions to help organizations align their sourcing initiatives with their vision.