The market for talent management continues to grow as organizations realize that they have not invested enough to make their workforces more productive and valuable. Not many human resources organizations have enabled innovation in their workforce processes or taken the next step to work more strategically with finance and operations executives. Now savvy HR organizations have been renting a new generation of talent management applications through software as a service (SaaS) in a cloud computing environment.
One player in this market, Plateau Systems offers a suite of applications supporting talent management activities including learning, performance management, compensation, career advancement and succession planning. Plateau recently won new business in the U.S. with Bank of America and Sabre Holdings and has gone global as organizations around the world see the importance of this set of processes. Plateau has added millions of new users and shows one of the highest renewal rates in the market at 99.5 percent as well as other impressive statistics announced in its growth report for 2009. This growth is even more impressive against the background of fierce competition and limited budgets for software to support HR and learning or training needs in organizations.
Plateau has stepped up again since my 2009 analysis (See: “Plateau Provides a Suite for Workforces to Become Best Talent”) where they put some foundation in place for the recently announced spring release of Version 6 of its Talent Management Suite (TMS). The new release aims to help employees, administrators and managers work together more efficiently. For managers there are capabilities to keep track of tasks and work with their teams on finishing tasks, exchanging feedback and delegating privileges. This can help management stay focused and not lose track of communications sent by e-mail or have trouble tracking progress, as well as link to the goals and objectives of each person and position. Individual employees can keep an active to-do list and manage related activities and documents along with reviewing what they have achieved and its relationship to their goals and objectives. TMS V6 also provides the ability to view career paths, understand competencies expected and perform e-learning to build them, and find others to collaborate with using the Plateau Talent Gateway. The product has a user interface that is easy to use and navigate and brings work communications out of e-mail into a dedicated workforce environment. Our research into talent management has found that usability is the number one criteria for which organizations decide on specific provider. Administrators will appreciate the expansion of configuration options in managing tasks, dealing with approvals and e-signatures, and applying weighting and scoring across the workforce. To support global deployments release 6 has a new multilingual data framework and data localization not just to support deployments in specific countries but also to support interaction across geographies to foster collaboration and sharing.
The spring release is built upon an update of the company’s Plateau Foundation, which it calls a platform as a service that can help organizations meet a broader set of talent management needs. In it Plateau separates its applications from the platform so it can continue to innovate in the needs of the workforce while maintaining common functionality across applications. While the platform uses a Java-based application framework, what is important to organizations in general is the ability to extend their use of Plateau applications; they can share the extensible interfaces with customers and eventually will be able to open them to partners to add additional value to the platform.
In addition Plateau announced an enhanced iContent service, a provider of content authoring for e-learning. Plateau says this content as a service provides a method for organizations to build a library of content that can be brought directly into Plateau Performance to help individuals advance their skills or adhere to internal policy or to meet external regulatory compliance. Most organizations do not yet realize the importance of learning and content to address their needs for governance, risk and compliance (GRC). The expansion of Plateau iContent offers an opportunity for Plateau to differentiate itself among other suppliers who do not provide as much flexibility and integration.
Last year Plateau introduced Plateau Talent Gateway, which allows organizations to let talent collaborate in a safe and secure environment. Doing this can be a major step forward for organizations that are running outdated employee portals to provide access to documents and some applications like employee information and benefits. Talent Gateway can help employees and groups self-organize into talent pools that share knowledge.
Plateau provides a robust suite of capabilities in its talent management suite, and offering its content and platform through software as a service makes it easy for organizations to get started. Having brought together the essential applications for talent management, Plateau next will need to integrate with recruiting applications, which it does not offer today. Knowing the historical performance and compensation of an individual, along with determining the necessary learning, can provide guidance to make the right new hire better than just interviewing individuals and can be provided to a recruiting application. Workforce analytics and planning are essential to talent management. Plateau has its Plateau Analytics, in which I expect to see advances in 2010, as well as in integration and examination of the impact of learning and compensation together. I also believe that Plateau can further innovate by providing some of its capabilities through smart phones and other mobile technologies.
Even though Plateau is not always on a company’s list of talent management providers for evaluation, it is one of the few that can demonstrate a suite that integrates social collaboration into business activities and has the ability to build educational content for performance improvement. Our recent benchmark research into performance management and talent management found that inadequate systems were the number one barrier to manage performance across employees. In addition the need to align workforce to business goals had the highest benefit in 81 percent of organizations which is what Plateau is addressing in their suite offering. from The combination of various capabilities to address workforce needs should help Plateau get on those lists.
Mark Smith – CEO & EVP Research