During Wednesday's keynote address at Taleo World in Chicago, Oracle executives emphasized not only what the company gained when it bought Taleo in February, but also where it is headed now that the partnership is consummated. The roadmap comes just as the human capital management (HCM) market is heating up, with SAP growing rapidly, Salesforce.com introducing Rypple in March, and IBM purchasing Kenexa, a provider of cloud-based HR and recruiting software, in August.
Oracle president Mark Hurd began the presentation, which was also broadcast live on the Web, by discussing how large financial decisions, such as annual wage increases or recruitment budgets, are often informed by insufficient data sets. The problem, presentations throughout the keynote revealed, involve three broad concerns: the number-crunching involved to use such data, the merging of information from several business silos into a single interface, and the ability to make important content accessible and user-friendly.
To illustrate, Hurd showed how a company could save millions of dollars in seconds by using a combination of Oracle products, including Taleo, to produce a graphical cost-comparison tool culled from various data points. Hurd said "around 120 factors" could be included, such as turnover rates, the cost of replacing someone being considered for promotion, employee performance rates, and recruiting metrics.
[ For more on Oracle's acquisition of Taleo, see Oracle Shakes Up Talent, Performance Management. ]
Hurd demonstrated how users can easily drill further into each parameter, isolating single regions or employee profiles with a simple click without leaving the main summary interface. Individual variables can be tweaked, and the software runs predictive algorithms to adjust the others, allowing managers to quickly find the most cost-effective solution. Hurd reiterated that without Oracle's ability to connect disparate data sets and present them in a simple, actionable manner, such quick and effective decision-making wouldn't be possible.
Capabilities such these are either already included in Oracle Taleo Cloud Service Pack 12B, which was released in July, or will be implemented into the 12C release, due in the next few months. Presenters also highlighted features to boost employee development, such as career pathway tools that suggest next steps based on the profiles of successful colleagues, or that integrate social-networking functions to encourage employee engagement.
Also touted was Oracle's implementation of faceted search--the method employed by retailers such as Amazon to "teach" users about results via dynamic options for query refinement. Keynote speakers additionally touched on simple tools to build custom graphs that can be tweaked on the fly to reveal correlations, as well as recruitment portals that streamline job-to-candidate matches and requisition management.
Oracle Fusion Tap, an iOS app released in July, was also demonstrated by software executive Jason Blessing. He emphasized that the tool does more than allow users of Oracle's cloud-based HCM services to become mobile; its UI, which includes many one-tap functions and integrates familiar swipe-based controls, has been specifically designed to blend seamlessly with the device's other apps and can be used with little training.
Looking to the future, Blessing said the next 12 to 18 months will bring a continued focus on product integration, noting that new combinations of services will be offered to "harmonize… process flows across applications," and that future HCM products would include more onboarding functions, expanded talent profiles, and tighter integration of Taleo Learn, an employee teaching and development system.
Blessing also mentioned big data applications, such as helping a nationwide company determine which of its offices should produce the best return by hiring a new worker. Finally, Blessing discussed continued use of mobile devices and the acquisition of data from both internal and external sources, such as populating an employee or candidate profile with information from Facebook or LinkedIn.
With Taleo World continuing until September 14th and Oracle World less than a month away, there's a chance HCM-watchers won't have to wait long for more information. Until then, Hurd's claim that Oracle will give businesses "tools and capabilities that no one has had in this industry before" will be tested as customers choose from growing HCM options.
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