This week the management of Peopleclick Authoria renamed the company PeopleFluent, reoriented its vision and launched a new suite of applications. This effort is intended to hone its focus on the intersecting aspects of talent management and respond to the increasing importance of mobility in this field. This move indicates the dynamic changes that are occurring as the software industry tries to meet the expectations of the next generation of workers and managers. PeopleFluent will rely on not just the rich history of Peopleclick and Authoria in the talent management market but also the recent acquisition of Aquire that brings it workforce analytics; its goal is to further expand its customer base with technology that provides the most usable applications in this market. Company rebranding efforts are always risky, but this one will be worth watching.
The name change is the eye-catching part of these announcements, but more important will be PeopleFluent’s upcoming suite of mobile applications on the Apple iPad. The new mobile suite will not be available until this fall, but it looks promising from demos. Unfortunately PeopleFluent did not allow me to review it on my own iPad yet, and without that I cannot give full credibility to any claims for the product. For the time being I’ll make some observations on what I have seen of the suite. As background I will note that our research of various kinds has found a surge in demand for mobile software that can provide tools and applications for business purposes.
PeopleFluent’s mobile suite is centered in an executive explorer that resembles a management review application. It has a range of capabilities that include organizational review, interaction with talent and access to individual and company metrics. It works with what the company calls the manager guidebook to support front-line managers. I like that the manager application imitates the old-fashioned folders and tabbed files you would find in a drawer when organizations stored all records on paper; this provides a comfortable context that may appeal to managers who aren’t technically adept. The ability to review information quickly is the key feature. I like that it can present analytics in the form of individuals’ photos to show who is over budget. This is a way of responding to the finding in our workforce analytics research that 89 percent of organizations want their analytics to be simpler. PeopleFluent is one of the few vendors providing what I call key people indicators, which are important for measuring process effectiveness or group performance through individual talent assessment.
The company also demonstrated a compensation application that provides not just support for a review but also quick access to compensation guidelines and other relevant information. The integration of performance and compensation is the direction that organizations want to take, according to our performance management for talent management benchmark. The suite also includes a candidate explorer to simplify the hiring process. It has direct integration with LinkedIn, for example, to show the Internet-based public profiles of internal and external candidates and even link to video streams on YouTube. I believe these are critical capabilities that will show up in our new benchmark research that starts shortly on social media’s intersection with recruiting and talent acquisition.
Without handling the suite myself, it is hard to see how fully PeopleFluent is replicating the Apple iPad experience; some vendors are taking shortcuts through using a Web application instead of native support. PeopleFluent spokespeople did not mention plans to support other tablets such as the RIM Playbook, Android-based ones or HP’s TouchPad, which could see a surge in adoption by corporations. The cost of tablets is likely to hold down adoption by the lower levels of managers at least for a while. Of course that could change rapidly. I did not get the feeling that PeopleFluent understands the full opportunity of having its mobile capabilities on smartphones; both the price and footprint of these are growing faster than for tablets.
PeopleFluent builds on a series of recent announcements of integrating planning and analytics together for compliance needs that signal its dedication to helping companies apply workforce analytics. It also has had a commitment to compensation management for many years and recently advanced it with a new release called Compensation 10.14. It provides a method to calculate pay for performance and provides easier HR and compensation analyst capabilities for defining calculation libraries. It also has advanced capabilities including payment caps, limits, stock, overtime adjustments and linking quantitatively to goals set by agreed-upon collaboration with the employee. Its Decision View analytics provides a link for managers and employees to define and track goals and accomplishments. These advancements are critical for competitiveness in the compensation market and match up with demand found in our latest total compensation benchmark and Value Index on Total Compensation Management released earlier this year.
PeopleFluent has a strong focus on the life cycle of talent in an organization. Starting with the hiring and recruiting process, it can provide accurate and simple analytics to determine the current talent pipeline and funnel of people outside and inside of the organization and also represent the workforce in an interactive organizational chart. This unique visualization of workforce analytics in the applications is a plus for the company and customers using it.
The importance of sourcing candidates effectively to get the best talent and then getting optimal performance from the resulting workforce should be top goals for every organization. PeopleFluent is working to expand its footprint in talent management, recruiting, vendor management and workforce compliance, all of which will be more accessible from its mobile applications on the iPad. PeopleFluent will join other people and workforce application vendors that are delivering on smart phones and tablets like Kronos and Saba that I have already assessed on these technologies. This is an important step at an obviously critical time for the company as it seeks to change the dynamic of what is possible with a new generation of business applications.
Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer