Talent Management Versus Employee Benefits – Who Builds a Better Web Application?

An article titled Employers desire HR technology that brings workers to the table in a recent issue of Employee Benefit Adviser stated the following:

"Twenty-one percent of employers are somewhat or very dissatisfied with the quality of talent management services offered, versus 10% in the health and welfare area (source: Watson Wyatt). Online solutions for talent management are relatively new, compared to Web-based technology aimed at health and retirement plans. The lack of technology with talent management may suggest why employers are unhappy in that arena."

HRmarketer's COO Kevin Grossman told me this after the recent HR Technology Expo in Chicago:

"One of the messages I heard loud and clear from HR leaders at this year’s HR Tech was this: Don’t just help us improve HR processes; help us improve our organization’s business strategy and bottom line as they relate to the impact of our most prized asset – our talent. We don’t care about slick new code and hip UI if the solution doesn’t make our recruitment efforts more cost-effective over time and help us grow the business."

This echoes Phil Go, chief information officer at Barton Malow, a construction management and general contracting firm that recently upgraded components of its human resource management systems with web-based applications: "It's not just about technology, but rather the value that the company gets from the technology."

And Richard Hubbard, director of Watson Wyatt's U.S. technology and administration solutions practice was quoted in the EBA article as saying "The market for [talent management] services are developing quickly as companies are beginning to recognize that talent management is an area where they could probably do better in bringing in the right software tools.”

I am not in a position to say who is more in touch with customer needs or who builds a better Web site application (the question is kind of silly), but I do know this key difference between most Talent Management and Employee Benefit vendors - most talent management software vendors built their business around the technology (many of these companies did not even exist before the World Wide Web in the mid 1990's) whereas most employee benefit vendors adapted an existing business to the Web. It's a subtle yet huge difference and has a lot to do (I think) on how vendors approach customer needs, Web site development and solve their client's business problems.

Posted by Mark Willaman