Total Compensation Is Hot in Human Capital Management

We have just released our 2012 Value Index for Total Compensation Management (TCM), in which we evaluate the competency and maturity of vendors and products. Our firm has been researching this category for many years, and our latest benchmark research in total compensation management found some improvement among applications in a field where many organizations still use outdated applications to manage an area with large financial and human capital impacts.

I am excited to bring this research to market again this year. No other research firm performs this level of analysis or follows it up on a regular basis. The Ventana Research methodology utilizes a request for proposal and assessment approach, and each value index takes six months to complete; unlike other analyst firms, we look at the product details that have the most importance to successful adoption and use. In the process we identify best and worst practices that further refine how we assess technology vendors in this category.

Our research, including this Value Index on Total Compensation Management, looks at the complete range of aspects of compensation, from types of pay and benefits to the processes required to manage them and communicate with workers. We examine role-based requirements for an organization, as well as integration with performance and talent management. We look closely at the key product areas – usability, reliability, manageability, adaptability and capability – and also the customer assurance areas of validation and TCO/ROI.

A lot has changed among TCM suppliers in the past year. For instance, Plateau, which we rated Hot in 2011, was acquired by SuccessFactors, which in turn was acquired by SAP. Now SAP is focused on using SuccessFactors offering and placing the product investments on this offering. Taleo was acquired by Oracle and its product was put aside in favor of the newer Oracle Fusion Compensation Management.

This year we found many talent management vendors claiming to manage compensation, but some provide only a place to enter current compensation data for use in performance reviews or provide limited capabilities. These vendors lack a total compensation management approach that can be used across all roles – administrator, management, manager and employee and support the processes, communicated and integration required for meeting these needs and support of talent management.

Our Value Index methodology assesses vendors across the seven categories noted above, each weighted according to its priority to buyers, and sums the results to 100 percent for scoring purposes. We placed a heavier emphasis this year on usability, reliability and manageability, which organizations indicated in our benchmark research are increasingly higher priorities. You can read the details on our methodology and process in the full TCM Value Index report.

Our analysis in the 2012 Value Index found six vendors that provide robust offerings. All six are rated Hot, which is the highest value level and demonstrates maturity of offerings. SuccessFactors ranks at the top, closely followed by Peoplefluent, then SumTotal Systems, Oracle, Excentive and ADP. We noted in our analysis that SuccessFactors and Peoplefluent showed rapid product advancements every quarter, and their focus on usability, manageability and reliability helped raise them above last year’s ratings. Oracle is a vendor to watch, with its latest release of Oracle Fusion Human Capital Management, which includes compensation and is available both on-premises and in the public cloud. New to the Value Index is Excentive, which is dedicated exclusively to total compensation management.

We take a lot of pride in our Value Index, and we believe it is cool to be a Hot vendor. The competitive market for these applications comprises a very mature set of products. Congratulations to the vendors that survived our detailed assessment processes and granular analysis, which represent how organizations assess and select vendors. If you want some further information, you can download the executive summary. We look forward to offering continued guidance to buyers on this critical application category for HR, finance and operations professionals who need to engage and retain employees by taking a comprehensive approach to compensation management and applications.


Mark Smith

CEO & Chief Research Officer

The Mandate for Social Collaboration in Business

It is hard to avoid seeing the impact of social media on our daily work, from marketing and sales to customer service. Consumers and customers can interact on the Internet to share their experiences and opinions often and easily, but internally we in business are still operating in the era of electronic mail and phone calls. Fortunately, that archaic state is changing. A new generation of technologies called social collaboration has evolved from social media to adapt to business needs. These technologies include broadcasting like Twitter, posting to digital walls like Facebook, discussion forums and online communities, and chat-based interactions, all used in a secure manner by an organization’s workforce. Since social collaboration is about people interacting for a common purpose across processes, using it for human capital management makes a lot of sense.

We recently concluded benchmark research on social collaboration and human capital management. In it we found that 58 percent of organizations now allow open social collaboration across the enterprise, while on the other hand 39 percent explicitly deny people the opportunity to interact using this technology. This gap illustrates the need for more education about how social collaboration can help organizations advance by allowing people to interact for a range of activities. The largest number of new hires in organizations over the next five years will come from a younger generation of workers called Millennials, who are used to engaging in collaboration and are unresponsive to electronic mail. Organizations will need to look at a spectrum of methods to fully engage their attention and realize their potential.

Social collaboration has great promise for engaging and retaining organizational talent. If employees are enthusiastic about and satisfied with their roles, they contribute more value. Our benchmark research found that this attitude is the important workforce metric when it comes to organizations getting the most return from their human capital. However, my review of organizations’ workforce analytics efforts finds that key metrics such as satisfaction and engagement are not well-defined or tracked on a routine basis; most organizations that perform tracking do it on an annual basis. Clearly retaining talent is critical to an organization’s overall success, including the cost and financial impacts. Techniques such as social collaboration can help enhance these metrics and promote interaction and alignment of employees.

Almost half of organizations in our research named knowledge sharing as the top purpose for social collaboration, followed by the basic function of collaborating. While this might sound obvious, some organizations nevertheless resist these trends while still using endless emails and meetings that are just slower and less direct means of social collaboration.

As organizations assess the potential increase in productivity and performance from the use of social media, they should also consider that social collaboration tools must accommodate the varying technological competencies of their workforce, no matter what age or segmentation. This is no easy task, since most organizations employ people with a wide range of digital skills.

Internally social collaboration is a human capital issue. Today, talent management applications cover performance, succession and learning, and attempt to align goals and tasks with performance objectives. Some organizations identify candidates for promotion based on their social engagement. Social collaboration also helps companies recognize employees’ achievements and promotions. In the context of benefits like these, our research found that human resources is the source of social collaboration funding in 45 percent of organizations – that is, it comes from  business budgets rather than IT’s. This is critical to note, as many general collaboration technologies have not aligned with the needs of business and so are being ignored or being acquired by other technology vendors.

In my next post on human capital management I will outline some of the technological approaches to social collaboration and show how the use of cloud computing and mobile technologies have helped make these capabilities more easily accessible. I will also cover our new evaluation criteria for examining social collaboration for human capital management, to make it easier for everyone to evaluate methods to engage and retain their talent. I urge everyone to keep an open mind on what is possible with social collaboration. Look at it with a business lens on how it can improve the productivity and performance of your workers in ways not possible with existing approaches. Doing nothing in this area will inevitably have a negative impact on your organization.


Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer