This week Workday announced the acquisition of Identified, a private company which was focused on using Big Data techniques to help recruiters find great candidates.
While Workday positioned this as a BigData move, it has the potential to be much more.
Thanks to the huge success of LinkedIn, startups of all shapes and sizes are building tools to collect social data about people, consolidate it, and make it available to corporate recruiters. (We call this “social sourcing” and some of the successful startups include Gild, Entelo, TalentBin, Identified, and others.) This is a multi-billion dollar business which we call building the “Google of People.”
What these tools do (and Identified prided itself on collecting data from Facebook in particular) is collect and aggregate lots of data about people, match it up (matching is among the hardest part) and develop tools to help index and search for people in an accurate way.
The key here is not to just find people who “graduated from Stanford in 1982 with a BS in Computer Science” but to go much further. Companies like Gild and Entelo actually “score” computer programmers to help find great skilled people who may not even have college degrees. Using these tools a recruiter can find a candidate who may in fact be one of the most prolific engineers in their field, but may not seem that interesting based on their resume.
Today companies spend over $150 billion on all different areas of corporate recruiting (advertising, search agencies, interviewing, assessment, employment branding, etc.) so this is a huge market. And it goes far beyond recruitment of technical professionals – anyone who has a social “presence” (think about designers, engineers, graphic artists, and other creative professionals who share their materials online) could become part of this market.
One of Identified’s big claims to fame was their ability to reach well beyond the world of LinkedIn (which still does not have many hourly workers and non-degreed professionals) to find nurses, designers, and other professionals who may use Facebook or Yahoo but don’t necessarily spend a lot of time on LinkedIn.
While Workday has not disclosed any of their plans for this acquisition, I see this as potentially disruptive in several ways.
- First, Workday has just “acqui-hired” some of the best data scientists and engineers in social sourcing in the market
- Second, Workday could decide to build a social sourcing engine right into its platform, totally changing the game in their goal to enter the cloud-based recruitment market (launch coming in the next few months)
- Third, Workday could use the technology to offer a variety of new business applications based on social sourcing data: sourcing, candidate assessment, flight risk (candidates who change their social profiles tend to be looking for jobs), and even leadership assessment.
- Fourth, Workday could decide to grow a social sourcing business that essentially competes with LinkedIn. (Less likely but not out of the question.)
As Workday gets its plans together, Oracle, SAP SuccessFactors, CornerstoneOnDemand, IBM, and the other players in the corporate recruiting software market may find that the game has changed. While every company needs an applicant tracking system, this acquisition could change the game and force all the major ERP and HR software vendors to build or acquire social sourcing technology.
Remember also that Workday recently announced its BigData Analytics product – a set of technologies based on Hadoop that let organizations manage very large amounts of employee and financial data to better understand their business and people. Using Identified’s technology that product could suddenly become very useful, even by applying the technology to a company’s internal employee base.
The people analytics or social recruiting marketplace remains one of the fastest growing segments in cloud-based software. We will all be watching Workday carefully as this acquisition plays out over the coming months.
I am an industry analyst and researcher focused on corporate talent and learning, HR, leadership, HR technology, and the intersection between work and life.
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