End of the year is a good time to review on what happened through the last 12 months – so I took a look at what made me blog about vendor events. Of course there are many other ways to look at this, but I guess the marketer in my brain looks at the timing and sequence of messages, where the calendar months play a role… there is only so much time in a year, for news, events and briefings. Layer that with acquisitions, which are not so well plannable like other events and it makes a busy year.
So here you go:


An easy choice, also because not much happens in January, but it is certainly Workday’s Release 21. Workday did a remarkable job on the new user interface, and moving the complete application must be a Herculean task – even though the vendor downplayed it. And as market leaders should, it started a year of UI renovation and innovation. Later in the year – just from the major vendors – we saw (in alphabetical order) remarkable UI progress with ADP, Infor, Oracle, SAP / SuccessFactors and Ultimate. The winner has been the HCM user that probably has the best user interface experience at its disposal – when you compare with the large ‘tectonic plates’ of enterprise software – Financials, CRM, Manufacturing, Purchasing. The consequence for vendors is that UIs stale faster than ever – once you had a 2-3 year break when you moved an application to a new UI, now 12 months makes a UI already look old and staled in some areas. The blog post on the Workday release can be found here.


Not so easy, as already a busier month – but at the end Oracle with its first HCM World conference wins. First of all remarkable as the vendor broke off a subset of enterprise software in a separate event. And Oracle showed commitment with both Mark Hurd and Larry Ellison speaking, and showing they understand HCM. And Oracle at the point had made enough progress with Fusion HCM to get attention. Kudos also to Oracle for being the first (and only) vendor in 2014 to let us – the analysts – play with their software: 20 or so analysts played with the simplified UI and got a better and more user centric insight than with any other vendor in 2014. Read my blog post here.



A pretty tough month to call on – but Ceridian make the cut of the most remarkable HCM event in March. Kudos goes to David Ossip and team to acknowledge what Ceridian was missing (mainly in the Talent Management space) and laying out a product development agenda for the next 48 months, reaching all the way into 2016. And with that Ceridian certainly contributed in Ultimate doing the same a month later, Oracle and SAP expanding their planning horizon, even ADP extending insight into the functional road way more ahead than usual. But only Ultimate matched the complete and detailed vision, something HCM buyers and users deserve and need to know to plan out their HCM roadmaps for the years to come. Vendors tend to forget how important the 2-3 year view for their clients is, so a great step in the right direction by Ceridian. Read my blog post here.



Again a pretty busy month, Ultimate’s user conference and the takeaways make my April cut as the key HCM event in April 2014. Ultimate matched insight till ‘roadmap’ complete to what Ceridian did in March, a move their user base very much welcomed. At this point UI innovation was no longer a surprise, but a necessity, given the success of Workday’s Release 21 from January (see above). But Ultimate also build and gained the important trust of customers and prospects to deliver to the roadmap with a new Onboarding module and Succession and Performance management being demoed. Last but not least Ultimate broke a first with (real) analytics (more hereon ‘real’ analytics) having shipped a retention predictor (anyone remember the 2011 HCM buzzword ‘flight risk’) and announcing a performance predictor. Read my blog post here.



One of the busiest months of the year, easily. Cornerstone makes the cut with its vision of unified Talent Management. With the vendor making clear that the ‘world does not need another core HR system’ and with that focus on purely Talent Management and doubling efforts in that area. No surprise, a new UI got traction and again ‘real’ analytics were hinted at, maybe already hinting at the later in the year acquisition of Evolv (mentioned in my weekly recap here) – showing how important analytics have become for HCM. And Cornerstone launched their Marketplace, one of the first (if not the first) HCM vendor to do so. Read the blog post here. Honorable mention and key as the reverse trend in the industry – Workday launches the long awaited Recruiting functionality – read here.



In a still very busy month – I was told June was when things slow down by industry veterans – but slower on HCM events – NGA HR makes the cut as the main event in June 2014. New focus under its new CEO Adel Al-Saleh is taking shape and if the vendor can deliver the majority of what it outlined as its ambition for 2015, then enterprises will have a very attractive BPO offering coming from NGA HR in 2015. The bigger questions in the market is – when will BPO pick up (again) – after the first wave of BPO euphoria 10+ years ago has fizzled and largely disappointed. But the value proposition of BPO with major trends like Globalization and aging workforce looming, remains very attractive to enterprises so it will be interesting to see what will happen in 2015. Read the blog post here.



Finally a more quiet month, and the prize goes easily to Hirevue announcing (and later in 2014) delivering its Insights analytical capability. And Hirevue did everything right – it is ‘real’ analytics, so it takes and action or makes recommendations. It is trained by the business user, creating buy in ownership and personalization to get off the ground. It also creates instant value by shipping with a global model, then refined to an industry, enterprise and potentially even to a specific position. And Insights learns and improves all the way during its usage. There is very little more an analyst can ask a vendor for building an analytical product in 2014 and Hirevue pretty much nailed it. Read my blog post here.



Also very quiet – but ended with a bang, Skillsoft acquiring SumTotal. It shows that though Cornerstone may succeed with a Talent Management only strategy, but for a Learning giant like Skillsoft, Learning was getting too small. Or at least for the new private equity owners. Not much has happened news wise since then – but than this can be a good sign - as it can be a sign of concern. 2015 will show how quickly the new vendor can go beyond Learning, the first (and maybe too soon) check-in at HR Tech in Las Vegas still showed slides of Learning and Talent Management vis a vis. Read my blog post here.



A very busy month – and the only one I could not find a clear winner, so the prize gets split between (alphabetical orders – as the avid reader knows) to ADP and SAP / SuccessFactors. 
Let’s start with ADP that faced the challenge to have 30 or so analysts in town for a yearly briefing and having to announce that long tome Product leader Michael Capone was leading. The way how ADP and all executives communicated this, was certainly school book A+ grade. But also on the product front ADP shows a lot of progress, rolling out its new benefits enrollment to mid-market clients and sharing a roadmap for 2015. There is a lot of new ideas and innovation at ADP, that most importantly are now followed up with first products in the market, not with 100s but Millions of customers. Read my blog post here.

And SAP / SuccessFactors had their user conference in Las Vegas, for the first time with the new leadership of Mike Ettling in place. A good passing the baton symbolic message with Lars Dalgaard, but SAP did not muster the same presence like e.g. Oracle did in February (e.g. Bill McDermott attended a pre event, and Robert Enslin opened for Ettling). But SAP had some key announcements in store – better roadmap sharing, services improvements and a renewed focus on Learning. Integrated Learning is a smart move by SAP, as it positions itself as the organic (or ‘unified’) learning provider vs. market foes like Oracle and Workday. But maybe I have missed it – the more detailed roadmap that was announced in Las Vegas, is not out yet. As I blogged – work remains to be done – read here.    



A super busy October had a number of HCM announcements – but the key happening was HR Tech in Las Vegas, under new leadership of Steve Boese, a great first event. True to what Constellation advises our customers, be disruptors, I decided not to keep my 30+ briefings with vendors quiet and a little bit to Twitter – but shared my takeaways of the briefings in the form of a short video. And it was widely and positively accepted – so I guess I need to repeat the same going forward – but for now checkout the takeaways of 30+ vendor briefings here. Needless to say, there is a lot of investment happening in the HCM space. Better stay on top of it as otherwise your enterprise may use sub optimal software.



Another busy November, as expected. The most important November 2014 announcement goes to Workday, making (real) analytics the main focus of the keynote at the Rising user conference. No enterprise vendor in the past has given even close that space for analytics, so definitively a pioneering act by Workday. And all vendors know that analytics has a lot of promise in the future – but kudos goes to Workday for being the first to give analytics that much space. But with that comes a lot of expectations for 2015, so it will be key to see how Workday will put the six announced analytical applications in action, both product and revenue wise.



As expected – a slow month – so I share my 2015 predictions and advice from the Constellation team post:

In the next ten years 10% to 20% of the North American and European workforce will retire. Leaders need to understand and prepare for this tremendous shift so performance remains steady as many of the workforce's highly skilled workers retire.

To ensure smooth a smooth transition, ensure your HCM software systems can accommodate a massive number of retirements, successions and career path developments, and new hires from external recruiting.

Constellation fully expects employment to be a sellers’ market going forward. People leaders should ensure their HCM systems facilitate employee motivation, engagement and retention, lest they lose their best employees to competitors. Read "Globalization, HR, and Business Model Success". Additional cloud HR case studies here and here.



A really busy year in 2014 – but don’t count on 2015 being any slower. There are too many very talented startups that are likely going to get a chunk out of the established vendor’s revenue streams. The existing vendors are not idling either but have major functional pieces coming in the next quarters. And I expect new HCM software categories to emerge… but now I get carried away into predictions… this was all about a review of 2014.

What were your key activities of 2014? – please share them in the comments below.