IBM Accentuates its RPO and Talent Management Offering by Acquiring Kenexa

Gary Bragar, HRO Research Director, NelsonHall

Although a bit smaller than the $1.9bn Oracle paid for Taleo (coincidentally at $46 per share as well) and the $3.4bn SAP paid for SuccessFactors, I believe that IBM’s acquisition of Kenexa, a cash transaction at $46 per share or ~$1.3bn and closing in Q4 2012, will have a much more immediate and larger impact than the aforementioned acquisitions.

Both Taleo and SuccessFactors were specifically acquired for their talent management (TM) technology. Beyond the strength of Kenexa’s technology, however, is the provision of TM services including:

  • Consulting
  • RPO
  • Employee engagement
  • Leadership development.

According to an IBM study conducted earlier this year, 71% of respondents cited “human capital” as the leading source of sustained economic value, above products and services innovation and significantly higher than technology. Kenexa, as a HCM and TM provider, will compliment IBM’s TM offering, which focuses on the full TM life cycle of attracting, developing, rewarding, and retaining talent. Specifically, IBM’s TM offering includes:

  • Recruiting
  • Learning
  • Performance management
  • Compensation
  • Succession management.

In addition to its multi-process HRO (MPHRO) offering, which includes TM, IBM also specializes in providing workforce strategy transformation, social technology, and analytics to predict and measure performance.

While RPO is part of IBM’s MPHRO offering, it also provides RPO on a standalone basis to GM. Kenexa’s RPO capabilities, however, will accelerate IBM’s RPO market share, making it one of the largest RPO providers globally with clients headquartered in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. Kenexa also delivers RPO services in Latin America including South America in ~25% of its contracts.

Kenexa’s BrassRing technology is one of the two most widely used applicant tracking systems in RPO contracts. Kenexa also brings its Kenexa 2x Recruit platform, which in addition to recruiting and learning contains the following performance management modules:

  • Goal setting
  • Competencies
  • Performance appraisals
  • Compensation
  • Career development and pathing
  • Succession planning.

NelsonHall estimates that Kenexa has more than tripled the size of its RPO business since 2006 with brand name clients including Ford and multi-regional contracts with Baker Hughes and Eli Lilly.

IBM’s price of $46 per share is a 42% premium over Kenexa’s August 24th close, but it will be well worth it. IBM is getting much more than software technology; it is getting assets, including human talent that can make a HCM difference. IBM’s plan is to combine its approach to social business, analytics, and TM to transform business processes to create smarter workforces with measureable business results. Given Kenexa’s record of growth and IBM’s experience with integrating acquisitions, this sounds like a good plan and a great business opportunity for both companies.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Acquisitions, hr outsourcing, hro, IBM, Kenexa, recruitment process outsourcing, RPO Offerings, Talent Management

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