Looming HR Technology War Will Touch Thousands Of Organizations, Millions Of Employees

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Friday, 12 October 2012, was turning point in the world of HR technology.

The event was the highly anticipated initial public offering of a human resources technology firm called Workday became the biggest technology stock debut since Facebook.

Workday, a Pleasanton, Calif., based-maker of Web-based human-resources software, saw it’s stock rocket up 78% in its trading debut Friday, raising $637 million.

Workday sold 22.8 million shares at $28 each, then saw its stock end the day at $48.69. The IPO was the biggest technology stock offering since Facebook went public in May, raising $16 billion.

With Friday’s surge, Workday is valued at about $8 billion, or 40 times 12-month revenue.

Dave Duffield, HR tech pioneer

Dave Duffield, HR tech pioneer

Workday was founded in 2005 by co-CEOs Dave Duffield and Aneel Bhusri, both former top executives at human resources software pioneer PeopleSoft Inc.

Duffield was forced to sell PeopleSoft to Oracle’s Larry Ellison in a 2005 hostile takeover.

Walking away from the Oracle hostile takeover with $600 million, Duffied and a number of other former PeopleSoft executives founded Workday.

Workday’s stock offering applies a new layer of competitive heat in the hotly contested HR technology realm.

For the past two years technology giants Oracle, SAP, IBM, Ceridian and others have been buying innovative HR technology providers, especially those specializing in Internet-based “cloud” computing.

HR Technology Market To Grow To $8.1 Billion By 2015

Most of this positioning is aimed at carving up the HR technology market, which is also known as human capital management (HCM) technology. Global HCM software spending is expected to reach $8.1 billion by 2015 up from to $6.4 billion in 2011, industry research firm IDC.

Technology giant IBM purchased human resources technology provider Kenexa in a deal valued at $1.3 billion.

The deal, announced 27 Aug. 2012, was the latest in string of acquisitions and mergers in the human resources technology realm.

These mergers have major implications for thousands of corporations, their employees and job-seekers. The deals are significant because Kenexa’s products are widely used by large organizations that combined have millions of employees.

Oracle president Mark Hurd

Oracle president Mark Hurd

For example, Kenexa’s software-as-a-service products are used by more than 8,900 businesses in industries including financial services, pharmaceuticals, retail and consumer products. More than half of the Fortune 500 uses Kenexa software.

Oracle’s Taleo acquisition was seen a competitive response to software maker SAP’s purchase of talent management software firm SuccessFactors Inc. for $3.4 billion. Oracle claims about 18,000 customers for it HR software services.

Buying Taleo also helps Oracle remain competitive with HR software maker Workday. Oracle, IBM, SAP, Salesforce.com and Ceridian are among the primary competitors in the software-as-a-service.

Just two days prior to Workday’s public offering, Oracle president Mark Hurd tried to reassure the HR technology community that it would continue to support its legacy systems as it expands in cloud-based services.

Speaking at the HR Technology Conference in Chicago Hurd touted Oracle’s modular approach emerging Fusion human capital management products.

“If you have a PeopleSoft suite or an E-Business suite, what I don’t want you taking away from our commitment to Fusion is that we’re going to end-of-life any of these products,” Hurd said. “I believe that at Oracle [OpenWorld] 2022 there’s going to be a PeopleSoft track. This will be a modular migration over time.”

According to a report on TechTarget.com Hurd had hard word for his competitors during a Q&A with reports at the HR Tech conference.

As for SAP’s comparable move into talent software with its acquisition of SuccessFactors, Hurd said, “They talk a lot. I always think when people show up with stories, ‘OK, I can’t buy a story.’ We try to actually show up with stuff you can use.”

He also said that Workday, which only is available on a SaaS platform, is not as new or complete as Fusion HCM.

Hurd word may just be the first salvo in of the HR technology war.

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