Posted tagged ‘Consulting’

Mercer on the Move

June 14, 2013
Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

This week I attended Mercer’s always well managed and informative analyst forum in Boston, MA. The meeting was focused on the talent consulting line of business.

Talent Management on the Rise

Mercer research indicates that human capital issues are a top CEO concern and managing talent is becoming a board of directors’ issue, moving beyond the traditional CEO succession planning and compensation to overall talent and workforce planning. The new Mercer Talent Barometer Survey, which was introduced at the 2013 World Economic Forum, reports that 60% of the 1,200 global companies surveyed are investing more in talent, but only 30% feel that their workforce plans are highly effective.

The business of talent has become both exciting and disruptive, with possible new entrants, globalization, media, innovations, and opportunities. (Talk about new entrants, eHarmony is considering getting into the talent matching game!)

With a possibility of double-digit growth, the talent group looked at how to grow across the talent value chain by expanding its services, tools and technology offerings for talent, rewards, and communications to increase growth and leverage Mercer’s depth of experience and capabilities.

The answer will become apparent over the next few months as more packaged solutions are launched that combine consulting, information, and technology to meet the needs of clients that want a less-customized consulting approach with “off-the-shelf” packaged and reusable services and tools.

Workforce Planning Versus HR Analytics

Some elements that will be leveraged are already mature and solid revenue producers. Surveys, benchmarks, and analytics for compensation/total rewards and job structures are a more than $200m line of business. Globalization of the revenues is already well on its way, with about equal distribution from North America, Europe, and emerging markets across 57 countries.

Instead of focusing on HR analytics, Mercer is emphasizing data acquisition and integration, data modeling, as well as data visualization as it applies to a wide range of workforce and data that drives business results. This may mean a consulting and outsourcing services engagement, it may mean workshops and training, or self-service use of integrated SaaS technology platforms with one or more Mercer products.

Think Big, Start Small, Move Fast

There are a lot of moving parts in Mercer’s strategy to create an integrated talent solutions portfolio.

It is brought together under the go-to-market Talent Impact label that includes new and existing products and services to forecast, engage, mobilize, reward and assess talent. Behind the scenes Mercer will be streamlining its own architecture into fewer and more integrated technology platforms to support the new offerings.

There is a lot to be done in a short time, but that is in alignment with the “think big, start small, and move fast” philosophy of Orlando Ashford, senior partner and president of Mercer’s talent business. Mercer is on the move!

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IBM Accentuates its RPO and Talent Management Offering by Acquiring Kenexa

August 28, 2012

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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HR, Analytics, and HRO – No Walk in the Park

June 25, 2012

By Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

Business intelligence tools, consulting, and services have been around for years, including for HR. Increasingly, one can find analytic solutions from HRO service providers, including those whose business services extend far beyond HRO and those that are pure-play HRO vendors. Every so often I review analytics packages, success stories, and service offerings and each time I am impressed by what can be done with the right tools, technologies, consulting, and data.

One would think that analytic solutions that provide fact-based information to support HR recommendations and then track the business impact of HR interventions and programs would be an easy sell, but it is not.

There are always leaders and early adopters ready to use the most cutting-edge tools and with the internal capabilities to ensure that value is delivered. That group is now getting into advanced HR analytics, but that group is not large enough to sustain a robust market.

Savvy HRO vendors with advanced analytic solutions understand the issue of client readiness and maturity. If the foundations and fundamentals are put in place first, then a vendor can whet the client’s appetite for more useful and usable information. For example:

  • Vendors in a consulting engagement for a specific problem should show how its advanced offering can be used along the way
  • Vendors should be aware of clients that are dealing with anecdotal data and data silos and who are struggling to get consistent, accurate, and timely data on the workforce basics because this foundation can be built on to support the entry point for analytics
  • Vendors providing HR outsourcing should teach its clients how to take full advantage of the metric capabilities, reporting, and data analysis that are already built into the services.

Too often, HR analytic solutions get too advanced too quickly for the average HRO client. HR is already drowning in data and the thought of getting more, even more sophisticated data is not necessarily a perceived plus. What would we do with it? Would we really use it? How will it fit in with all of our other sources of data, reporting, dashboards, etc.? Our standalone applications have built in reports and analytics, why do we need another system? Would it pay its own way as an investment from our limited budget (i.e., ROI)? Even for those with a strong interest, the data and capability to make it dance are often lacking.

As a long-time champion of the use of metrics and analytics in HR, I loving seeing the strength that the use of great data adds to the consulting and relationship skills of HR business partners. There is a whole lot of foundation work needed to prepare for getting full value out of HR analytic solutions. I hope HRO service providers will stay the course because better use of data is a critical part of becoming strategic HR business partners and succeeding in the age of human capital management.

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How Mercer’s HCM Views Impact HRO

June 11, 2012

Would you build a $4.5bn facility in Africa if you were not sure you could find the skilled workers to run it? That was the comment of a real CFO at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos. Human capital management (HCM) was one of the hottest topics at the forum drawing C-suite leaders into a full day of discussions. Concern about talent shortages has reached #2 on the risk management list, and top business leaders are recognizing talent as both a key competitive factor in growth and its lack as a risk factor limiting growth, especially in emerging markets.

This was the opening conversation at Mercer’s analyst forum focusing on its Talent, Rewards, and Communications (TRC) consulting practice and its approach to global talent growth. The TRC group is led by Pat Milligan, Senior Partner and President, and it accounts for $600m of Mercer’s $3.8bn 2011 revenues.

The forum was also about Mercer’s approach to its own growth. Mercer has increased its feet on the ground in emerging markets and is adding to its portfolio of services. Having completed seven acquisitions in the last sixteen months, including ORC Worldwide and CENSEO, expect to see more strategic acquisitions in the near future as Mercer leverages its cash on hand to build scale. Mercer’s TRC practice already has a great start with 55% of revenues from outside of the U.S. and 18% growth in 2011, 11% organic.

Mercer is focusing on more than consulting as a standalone service.  It is combining consulting with enabling technology and data to continue to win in its very competitive market space. Along with discussions on talent management, there were demonstrations of technologies and tool kits to gather, monitor, and manage information that helps clients make better people decisions, such as Mercer iknow and Human Capital Connect. 

Most clients cannot afford to immediately “rip and replace” their current tools and technologies, so Mercer will also help clients who say, “make what I have work.”  Its new Belong portal will be the front door to bringing together the information, tools, and applications – whether it’s Mercer’s own or a client’s blend of programs. Offering HR portals is not new, but Mercer is building in data extractors to offer the most needed information, dashboards, and limited functionality within the portal without having to go out to the full application.

There are other critical components to consider. This is where HRO comes in as part of the build and operations team to ensure cost-effective and viable end-to-end HR services for the participants, HR generalists and COEs, managers, senior leadership, and the enterprise itself.

Whether as a single source of consulting, solutions, and services or by using an ecosystem of preferred partners, is your HRO service provider(s) capable of helping you go from strategy to design, build, operate, and improve your HR capabilities and services to deliver full business value?

Linda Merritt, HRO Research Analyst, NelsonHall

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The Fertile Ground of HRO Innovation

February 9, 2012

Kelly Services’ recent announcement of its new Office of Innovation was fascinating as the company has long been a leader and innovator in the staffing services field. Go global, check. Provide MSP, check. Add RPO, check. Add consulting, check. Launch mobile access applications, check. Supply chain management, check. Its success shows in the results, with 2011 revenues totaling $5.6 billion, a 12% increase over 2010.

To find out more, I had a lively discussion with Kelly Services’ Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer Rolf Kleiner. Basically, Kelly Services has already done so much that it is focusing on new solutions and capabilities to remain ahead of the competition and keep up with its many Fortune 500 clients.

According to Kleiner, the company has always done well with the “little I” incremental innovations that improve and enhance its current services and capabilities. Kelly Services is also looking for new “big I” innovations, those that can move the needle on results and set precedents within the company and in the marketplace. It was felt that by adding more visibility and vetting larger scale opportunities, the Office of Innovation will be able to identify, develop, and bring new innovations to market faster.

Kleiner plans to set up a “pull” process for ideas that includes many stakeholder groups including employees, clients, suppliers, and other industry experts. He likened the process to farming. It will take working with the communities of interest on an on-going collaborative basis to develop a harvest of ideas.

There were several items I found especially interesting. One is using this effort as an opportunity for talent management. Some proof of concept and development projects will be managed by the Office of Innovation and will provide highly visible opportunities for those assigned. When projects are managed outside of the normal lines of business, integration and communications will be maintained which brings reality to planning and brings market needs and innovation participation deep into the infrastructure and culture of Kelly Services.

Also, there is a very crisp vision for the strategic initiative and clear criteria for the kind of innovation opportunities that are being sought. There is solid alignment with the goals of the company, scale for sizing market opportunities, and an openness to solutions that could include internal developments, partnerships, supplier networks, etc.

Finally, the selection of Kleiner as head of the Office of Innovation is a strong indication of Kelly Services’ seriousness with this endeavor. He reports directly to the CEO and his previous assignment was as Senior Vice President and General Manager for the KellyOCG group, which provides consulting and outsourcing services. The pulse of the market, the voice of the customer, and the operational beat of the business are all fresh and fertile ground for Kleiner’s new challenge.

Our NelsonHall HRO team always advises clients to look for service providers that can meet today’s needs as well as offer partnership for meeting the needs of tomorrow. How is your HRO vendor focusing on the future?

Linda Merritt, Research Analyst, HRO, NelsonHall

Interested in reading the latest HRO news from NelsonHall? Subscribe to our newsletter by emailing amy.gurchensky@nelson-hall.com with “HRO Insight” as the subject.

Buy, Build, and Go: ADP Acquires The Right Thing

October 20, 2011

ADP maintains the momentuem of its buy, build and go strategy to become a full service HRO service provider with the acquisition of The Right Thing (TRT). Coming late to the MPHRO game, ADP is wasting no time in becoming a principal player by building out its portfolio through rapid development of proprietary HR technlogy platforms and the acquisition of leaders in adjacent human capital management service lines. (Also see ADP has a Platform for HRO Success.)

By filling in the last major piece of the MPHRO services puzzle, ADP is the first MPHRO vendor to acquire a end-to-end RPO specialist. It will continue to offer its current recruitment administration and technology services and add the option of TRT’s RPO fully featured capabilities including sourcing, onboarding, employment branding, etc. As with the 2010 acquisition of Workscape, this opens up new client markets while maintaining its line of basic services.

The cross- and up-sell opportunities are great, given ADP’s client base of over 500k. The Right Thing, an ADP Company, brings in ~80 RPO clients mostly from the large market and it gains access to ADP’s midmarket client base. ADP adds more of the richer HR services needed by larger and more complex clients, or as Terrance McCrossen, ADP Division Vice President of Startegy and Marketing said, ADP is putting  more HR in HRO.”

The RightThing is first in North American 2010 revenues and fourth globally according to NelsonHall’s Targeting RPO market analysis. The ADP global sales and distribution network will pave the way for faster multi-country growth, one of the hottest trends in RPO, and a long-term TRT ambition.

The enriched MPHRO portfolio, client bases from Workscape and TRT, along with growing acceptance of platform services moving into the large market, all will be fuel for ADP growth. With fiscal year 2011 revenues, ending June 30, at ~$9.8bn.  At that size it takes big moves to noticeably move the revenue meter. The combined ADP will yield an estimated >$10bn in FY 2012.

Major ADP news has been coming out rapid fire, but behind the scenes many of these moves were in the planning, assessment, and dating stage for some time. ADP had been researching its RPO options for as long as two years because ADP understands a company is more than a sum of its parts, portfolio, footprint and net present value. It was also looking for a cultural match in customer dedication and a leadership team that would be open to staying with it longer term because of the increased opportunities to achieve their own goals and ambitions.

The new ADP Human Capital Management additions have a focus on talent management. An important space for HRO, although the usual path is to start with consulting and add outsourcing. I can’t help but speculate that in due time a partnership or acquistion of a HR consulting company may be in ADP’s future.

Linda Merritt, Research Analyst, HRO, NelsonHall

Interested in reading the latest HRO news from NelsonHall? Subscribe to our newsletter by emailing amy.gurchensky@nelson-hall.com with “HRO Insight” as the subject.