SAP SuccessFactors Merger Still Misses the Mark for Aligning Talent with Business Strategy (but it’s close)

Greta Roberts, CEO, Talent Analytics, Corp.
5 December 2011

Enterprise Software and Human Capital Executives are buzzing about SAP’s announcement they have entered a definitive merger agreement with SuccessFactors. SAP’s Press Release describes the reason for the merger, “to create a Global Cloud Leader with World Class Applications, Technology and Expertise”.

SAP SuccessFactors – An Even Bigger Opportunity
Though the goal of becoming a “Global Cloud Leader” is an exciting one – we believe SAP, analysts and pundits are missing a more important opportunity – the chance for SAP to change how their customers do business, forever.

CEOs everywhere wonder how to select and align the best talent to accomplish business strategy. The challenge has seemed unsolvable because talent data and performance data have been disconnected – in people’s minds and in enterprise software. SAP SuccessFactors could change this.

Talent Data Combined with Enterprise Performance Data
SAP tracks performance data on all levels, SuccessFactors tracks talent performance. This combination could be the Holy Grail CEOs have been looking for, as SAP will inevitably make it possible to combine SuccessFactors data with their enterprise performance data.

Perhaps this is the real reason (or at least an additional reason) SAP acquired SuccessFactors?

An SAP SuccessFactors Merger Still Misses the Mark for Aligning Talent with Business Strategy (but it’s close)
As exciting as the SAP SuccessFactors announcement is – it doesn’t go far enough to help correlate employees to business performance.  Even if SAP predictably decides to connect their talent software data with enterprise performance data (a great idea!), SuccessFactors will still only be able to report on “what has happened”, providing little relevant data to executives trying to answer the question “why”, to help forecast and predict outcomes.

Correlate Employees with Business Outcomes for Predictive Insight
While SuccessFactors measures activities surrounding the employees (for hindsight reporting), Talent Analytics measures characteristics about the people themselves for combination with all other Enterprise Data (for forecasting and predicting).

We’re hoping SAP sees beyond being a leader in Cloud Applications (an important delivery mechanism) to their opportunity to finally connect talent to business outcomes.

We’re hoping the SAP SuccessFactors merger begins a phase where enterprise applications welcome human information as finally a measureable and rich data type which can be combined with all other pieces of existing business analytics.  Maybe finally businesses can value their talent assets on the balance sheet.

Bill McDermott, President and Co-CEO of SAP America said recently, “Is human resources the cockpit of a world-class organization, able to look at human information real time so that we can make resource decisions and trade-offs based on data-based evidence concerning likely business yield of human capital investments?  No we aren’t there yet.  But we need to keep moving in that direction …”

Is There More to the SAP SuccessFactors Merger than Meets the Eye?
We think so. If not specifically with SAP – we believe this will begin the conversation with other enterprise software firms seeking to combine enterprise data with talent data for predicting and forecasting.

Greta Roberts is the CEO of Talent Analytics, Corp. She can be reached via

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