There has been plenty of debate and comment around the acquisition of Vurv by Taleo last week. On 6 May, Jason Corsello dubbed it ‘brilliant‘, but delivered a slightly more considered opinion6 days later. Still, Jason spells out plenty of reasons why this is a good move by Taleo, and he’s the man in the know, after all, he called this a week before it happened.
As I say, there’s plenty of useful and interesting comment out there, especially on the Knowledge Infusion Centre of Excellence thread. Much of the comment deals with areas of likely overlap, customer impact and the fall out for Vurv employees.
Strangely, though, one key issue seems to be touched on only lightly …
… that key issue is technology.
When two software companies merge, you have to ask what’s going to happen to the software. I have always admired Taleo’s approach to building their solution: everything integrates, and there is a consistent thread of data. This is no minor matter when it comes to moving around sophisticated information on, for example, competencies, performance and learning activities.
The alternative to this slow and steady approach is growth through acquisition: buying up companies to build a check-list of functionality which – behind the scenes – is rarely integrated at all, and even if some integration is managed in the short-term, I can’t remember a single case in which a sizable acquired solution was fully integrated into an existing software suite. I do, though, remember plenty of cases where the acquired software either continued within its own bubble within the acquirer or – more commonly – withered on the vine.
At the Knowledge Infusion Centre of Excellence, though, IBM’s Wayne Chattaway reckons building an integrated Talent Management solution is no longer a viable approach:
I think it is a great move for the viability of the talent management technology space. It’s no longer possible to build from scratch all the point solutions in time for the markets need…and still remain best of breed. The acquisition allows Taleo to offer best of breed solutions in all components except Learning….
Perhaps he’s right. After all, we are talking about massive chunks of non-trivial functionality here. Building quality solutions from scratch may simply not be viable. And it’s true that at InfoBasis, we’ve always found it possible to integrate our software with existing client solutions, whether it’s an HR backend, an LMS or the company payroll system. But we do this on a case-by-case basis, to suit need, not in an attempt to build an entire, scalable talent management suite.
Jason’s market analysis is right – in very many ways this is a great move for Taleo. My reaction, though, is a little like the stock market’s. Initially I was down on it, then grew a little more positive after some reflection. But I haven’t recovered to my initial position, and I’m still unsure that this can be made to work. For all those involved – not least the customers – I hope that it can.