Another one bites the dust

Hot on the heels of SAP acquiring Success factors in December, Oracle has added yet another HR platform to its portfolio with its purchase of Taleo. Lots of consolidation going on with suppliers + are some of the systems getting too big and complex for their own good?
Yesterday Taleo announced it was selling out to Oracle. Been interesting reading the Blog posts and industry comment.

Oracle have had a history of taking over companies and according to some observers, including this one, of not looking after customers interests as well as they might of in the process. Some of us of course remember that Larry Ellison the longtime CEO and force behind the company regarded the cloud, as I think the term was “gibberish”. Now of course Oracle have their own problems. After what I believe has been close to a $40bn buying spree over the last few years the company has been struggling for growth. I think they only managed 2% last quarter. A $40bn spend to deliver growth of 2%...?!

I was expecting Oracle to get a bad press for this and indeed if the past is any guide then it does not bode well for the Taleo product line and hence the comments. Oracle has several other HR platforms and its focus is really on selling large and expensive databases - ouch... Will be interesting to see what happens to the product set and if implementation and licensing costs rise. However there has also been quite a bit of negative comment I certainly have picked up around the current Taleo lineup itself, especially in the HR community. I expected some adverse comment around the takeover but it also seems to have brought our latent user frustration in the Taleo customer base. Seems there is a not insignificant group who have some frustrations.

We do to an extent compete with Taleo ourselves of course, though our focus is at the mid range rather than large companies with well staffed HR departments. I have not used the system for some years and whilst I found it somewhat difficult to use and expensive to implement I certainly believed it offered all the features money could buy. I thought it was a solid product from a good company and I thought they ran a very slick marketing and sales operation. However considering comments from at least some current Taleo users it got me thinking; perhaps you can have too much of a good thing. Maybe having a choice of every feature you can think of makes a product too complex in it's underlying operation. Perhaps trying to cover every base has meant that the product does not cover some bases as well as it might. This actually chimes quite well with the previous post on predictions for 2012 where I suggested users would get frustrated with systems that did everything and were thus tended to be more complex, preferring systems that focus on simplicity and usage with the features that you might actually use (see post Recruitment - predictions for 2012 and beyond - Part 2).

It reminds me of when I was selling recruitment systems in the UK prior to coming to NZ, competing directly against both them, Taleo, Kenexa, Stepstone and others. Almost all our clients had SAP and Oracle systems. A fair few of the Oracle clients even had Oracle recruitment modules bundled in with their Oracle applications. But they at least chose not to implement it. Why...?

I think the reasons were two-fold (a) the consultancy and implementation costs were enormous and (b) their products were too complex to get the best out of. They had all the features, but as they were not readily useable by either HR and especially managers there was little point in making use of them. Taleo has really gone all out to cover every base and can do all. Its what its known for. However it was never easy to use or evolve and this does not appear to have improved in recent years (tell me if I am wrong please). Certainly from comments I am seeing and hearing its users do believe it can do everything but getting it to do it is not easy and not cheap.

Perhaps Taleo is ready for Oracle.