#HRTechChat: The SAP acquisition of the SuccessFactors acquisition of Jobs2Web

It's time for #HRTechChat once again! This Friday, 12/16, from 2 - 3 pm ET (11 am - 12 pm PT).

Friday's topic: SAP's acquisition of SuccessFactors' acquisition of Jobs2Web.

Please check out this guest post from Brent Skinner, co-creator and conspirator of #HRTechChat:

The Future of HCM Tech Is Not Premise-based

What's more exciting than stories about big companies buying smaller companies? Big companies buying smaller-but-still-big companies, that's what—in the cloud. And that's what we witnessed this past weekend, when the very, very big SAP AG acquired the not-exactly-small cloud-based HCM vendor SuccessFactors, Inc. for $3.4 billion. That's a big development, one that the industry needs time to study and fully understand—more time than the mere three days that came and went before SuccessFactors then announced its own acquisition of Jobs2web, the widely respected provider of a social media–based approach to recruitment marketing. When the news is about really big companies buying really big companies, and the oft-discussed cloud is the buzz, the only other news that will rise above the din is probably something related to social media, the cloud's match in the HR technology wars.

Assimilation is not Futile

In fact, it is unavoidable.

To recap, the past week has seen one of the very biggest ERP providers acquire a big cloud-based HCM technology provider, which itself turned around, just a few days later, and snatched up a major provider of social media for recruitment marketing. Let's stay with the implications for cloud-based HR technology and leave for another blog entry any analysis of what the latest news means for social media–facilitated recruiting.

There's a metaphor in here, somewhere, to capture the significance of SAP's acquisition of SuccessFactors….

Watch a storm brew, and you'll see the phenomenon that led to the saying "storm clouds gathering." Open, blue sky slowly gives way to clouds, which gather. And those gathering clouds grow, the larger ones seemingly assimilating the smaller ones, till a single cloud asserts its primacy. Where the sun's light once peered through plentiful openings revealing the blue sky above, a large cloud blocks it, enjoying dominion over everything and everyone underneath.

Minus the bad weather and negative connotations of storms brewing, the idea of growing, larger clouds assimilating smaller clouds in their paths appears to be an apt (or at least a cool) metaphor for SAP's acquisition of SuccessFactors. No, prior to Saturday's announcement, SAP wasn't a bigger cloud in the cloud, but it always has been a metaphorical cloud, and in acquiring SuccessFactors, SAP assimilated a smaller, also metaphorical cloud that just so happens to be a real cloud, too.

Hold that thought, because assimilation of the SAP kind is here to stay.

Unification Now...into the Cloud

The evolution of the HR technology marketplace continues, from a large congregation of myriad vendors of best-of-breed solutions that address the many silos of human capital management, to a much smaller congregation of massive providers of single-solution HCM suites that embody as much of the employee lifecycle as possible. The term for this is unification, of course, and acquisitions elsewhere reflect the trend. Just look at players such as ADP, whose acquisition of The RightThing was just the latest in a string of acquisitions designed to fill out ADP's emerging role as a one-stop destination for all HCM technology. And where will that destination be? It will be in the cloud, as evidenced by ADP Vantage HCM™. Companies comparable to ADP in size and influence are angling to provide all technology necessary for proper HCM via the cloud, too.

Neither Here Nor There, the Cloud Is Here to Stay

Someone recently tweeted that a major benefit HR technology has brought to HR this past decade is the capability to have a bunch of technology in one place that isn't even a place. That's a paraphrase, and the place that isn't a place is the cloud, nevertheless a platform. Yes, SAP's acquisition of SuccessFactors is a major nod to the legitimacy of cloud technology as the way forward for all things HCM. If a savvy ERP vendor of SAP's heft sees the clouds gathering, then we know: The future is not premise-based.


HR practitioners, vendors of HR technologies and services, analysts, journalists and industry observers alike are welcome to participate in the chat and follow the Twitter hashtag #HRTechChat each week.

Here are the questions for this week's chat:

Learn more and take a poll at TalentManagementTech. We'll see you Friday!

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