HR Tech 2016 round up - 12 vendors you need to know

Brian Sommer Profile picture for user brianssommer November 20, 2016
Check out some of the vendors we came across at HR Tech 2016 - it isn't all about HR admin and payroll.

Fellow analyst and solution selection ninja Frank Scavo and I spent a useful few hours hitting a dozen of the vendor booths at HR Tech 2016. Here are some of the standout vendors/solutions. In no particular order:

Papaya Global

Once upon a time, an ERP software vendor executive told me that it costs $10-15 million for them to open a new office in a new country. They'd need to acquire office space, telecom gear, etc. But, their biggest cost and challenge would be getting quality in-country personnel for the new location.

At shows like HR Tech, I sporadically hear from firms that will help with re-locating workers or in handling ex-patriate assignments for some of their customers’ staff. But, Papaya goes way further. They can help a company do most everything when it comes to opening a new operation in a new location.

HR Tech 2016

Their solution covers employer and employee/contractor information and services. Employers can create plans/budgets, locate/acquire local suppliers and contract workers, and, commit (via a single e-signature) with all of these pre-vetted, in-country providers. Papaya has already worked out contracts and terms with these firms. Businesses can obtain work permits, get payroll/benefits services, outsource some functions and/or hire local personnel via this one-source tool. Plus, they provide a number of comparative statistics for that location.

Papaya is an Israeli-based firm that represents the third startup for its founder, Eynat Guez. The company only launched in July and already has 30 customers. Papaya’s ideal customer is a company in growth mode and needs to expand globally.

This solution is a big time saver, reduces launch risk and contains a lot of intellectual capital that would be expensive and difficult for companies to accumulate on their own. Growing firms should remember this solution.


Scout also makes life easier for businesses by aggregating specialist recruiters into a single marketplace. Scout is a marketplace where companies can connect with specialist recruiters who maintain deep knowledge of specific industries, executives, positions, etc. So, if a firm needs to hire an oil & gas well logging specialist in the North Sea, why not deal with a specialist recruiter who does nothing but fill these kinds of placements?

Scout brings some structure and removes friction in a space full of small recruiting firms. They have some 13,000 recruiters in their network. Yet, companies need only sign one contract with Scout to access and use these recruiters.

Employers post an open position with Scout. Scout software analyzes the requisition and matches it to one or more specialist recruiters. The search firm sends qualified candidates to the employer and the position is filled.

Scout integrates with a number of Applicant Tracking and HR systems including: Oracle/Taleo, Workday, IBM/Kenexa, SAP/SuccessFactors, iCIMS and more. Scout has approximately 600+ customers including a number of blue chip firms.

Scout’s a good deal for recruiters as it drives additional deal volume to them with no sales/marketing cost. Employers get to tap into the network, market knowledge and connections that specialists possess. They also get to shave time off from locating relevant recruiters and recruiting personnel for key positions.

I’ve known some of the principals in Scout over the last few years. It feels like they’re starting to really hit their stride now.


Anaplan is a CPM (corporate performance management) vendor that I’ve covered many times. But that coverage was usually in the context of either financial software or budgeting/planning/forecasting functionality.

Anaplan was at the HR Technology show to promote its new Workforce Planning applications. This collection of applications has met with rapid market acceptance.

Anaplan’s tools now aid in headcount and payroll planning, succession planning, compensation/equity modeling (especially when calculating complex, multi-component compensation), global compensation for banking, call center planning and facilities management. They described their solutions as tools to help firms find people, grow people, deploy/optimize people and retain them.

Anaplan has the Anaplan App Hub. It contains 140 planning applications – 24 are ‘new additions to the workforce planning suite’.  Because of the new App Hub and partnerships with key integrators, the breadth and appeal of the solutions seems to be growing. A number of top-tier firms have signed on as Anaplan customers. Workforce Planning customer count has doubled in the last year.

Anaplan’s growing library of planning tools/apps is making this firm resemble firms like SAS Institute. Instead of selling a generic toolkit, Anaplan is offering more focused solutions that appeal to specific functional users or users in specific industries.

Anaplan has in-memory technology and some of its customers are merging financial and personnel data with big data sources like weather forecast information to help optimize staffing levels. Other customers are apparently looking into this as well.

As with any HR or planning tool, the information is only as good as the data it relies upon.

Anaplan will likely continue to expand into new functional areas and industries. IT could be one of these.

Financial Force

Colleague Frank Scavo and I got an update from Financial Force on their HCM solution. FinancialForce is a cloud ERP vendor that built its solutions off the Force1 platform. Their initial applications were, as their name suggests, financials but they’ve since added supply chain, HR and PSA (professional services automation) modules.

Today the company has over 1200 customers – 200 of which are HCM customers. Their target buyers for the HCM solutions are firms with 500 or more employee equivalents. HCM deal flow is growing faster than core apps.

FinancialForce has created three levels of implementation assistance:

  • Smart Start – an 80 hours (or so)/project implementation based on FinancialForce’s methodology
  • Smart Start Plus – a larger implementation effort with a broader functional scope
  • Smart Start Advanced – a more hands-on implementation

Deal size for FinancialForce has been growing and not just because the company can sell more functionality in a given deal. One major high tech firm has signed on recently triggering an 8-figure sized deal.

FinancialForce has an alliance with Ceridian for its DayForce payroll functionality.


Frank and I also got a quick update from Infor. Infor’s been busy the last couple of years creating new cloud versions of many of its numerous applications. Two big suites I’ve been watching are their CloudSuite Financials and CloudSuite HCM suite.

Relative to the HCM suite, the company is reporting a lot of momentum in that solution. Work on the multi-tenant aspects of the suite is now coming to a close. Infor, itself, is converting its internal HCM software to the new CloudSuite HCM product. That implementation will be deployed via multi-tenant cloud. 20 other firms are either on or scheduled to be on the multi-tenant HCM solution.  The CloudSuite Financials should be available in a multi-tenant deployment by now, too.

Payroll functionality is available for U.S. and Canadian employers. Infor has alliance partners for other parts of the world. If my notes are correct, Infor is re-writing the payroll solution.

The behavioral science analytic functionality that Infor developed is showing up in talent management and other areas. These analytics are tracking things such as flight risk. The addition of these analytic tools is helping Infor distinguish its products from competitors.


BetterWorks offers technology that helps firms and people achieve business objectives. The company already has some 300 enterprise-level customers, 25 of which are Fortune 500 firms.

The software helps people connect with overall corporate and other objectives. Managers can ‘follow’ the progress of people in reaching these goals. The tools show how work really gets done (or not) and identifies who should provide feedback on a person’s activities.

Integration to products from and JIRA allow the software to monitor how well certain employees are meeting specific sales and marketing goals. Other integrations can include products like those of Workday.

When a company becomes a BetterWorks customer, BetterWorks’ services group helps customers set a two year plan and objectives. This is an important step as some firms may have conflicting goals within their firm or great differences as to which objectives are more/less important than others. These objectives must then be further segmented into smaller weekly or daily objectives.

Individual can have private or public objectives. All objectives will be linked and relevant dependencies are visible.

HR Tech 2016 - better works

BetterWorks has organization charts as well as insights as to how people actually work together. Another tool they offer is the WorkGraph – to help understand a worker’s profile and to give that worker feedback.


A Mercer briefing is always a briefing worth taking. The company is very professional, always prepared and has thought provoking ideas/insights. At HR Tech, they discussed three items: their new Select Intelligence product, their growing Workday practice and their new Candidate Care solution.

Select Intelligence is an information service designed for current and future HR leaders. Mercer has recognized that that HR is a massive area functionally that is impacted by scores of new regulations, innovations, etc. every day but few HR personnel have the time to monitor every news source, reference material, etc. to stay current. The problem only gets worse as an employer enters new states and/or new countries.

Mercer’s team scans huge amounts of content, thought leadership and more daily to present the most relevant items to HR professionals in a more digestible format.  Links to source documents are, of course, included for those who want more detail.

Select Intelligence also has an “Ask the Pro” option for those HR organizations who’d like to vet new ideas/regulations with a Mercer expert. Select Intelligence is mobile enabled.

Mercer’s Workday practice has been growing quite nicely lately. Mercer acquired Jeitosa and CPSG to help bolster this part of the practice. Mercer now has around 350 professionals in this group with some in India. Some of their Workday customers are major firms. They now offer post-production support services such as break/fix support, ticket support, etc. This service will likely have them competing with firms like OneSourceVirtual.

CareerARC Candidate Care was developed to help companies better manage relationships with job candidates that an employer cannot use at this time but may want to keep in its system for future consideration. This solution is great for companies that want to maintain a positive employment brand. In a tight labor market, few firms can afford the luxury of treating any applicants poorly. This solution facilitates continued contact with recruits and ‘keeps them warm’.


Frank and I also checked in with Michael Custers of NGA HR (nee Northgate Arinso). NGA HR may be one of the oldest firms at the show given its Peterborough UK heritage decades ago. The company started off by offering payroll processing and software and moved into HR BPO in earnest many years ago. The company has a number of data centers globally where it handles a number of payroll and HR functions for large companies.

Over the years, the company has had a positive working relationship with SAP. At one time, it developed a multi-tenant version of SAP’s HCM solution. That product, EuHReka, is now NGA Global Payroll and is in use in 53 countries. Since then, SAP has acquired Success Factors/Employee Central. NGA HR is supporting those solutions in its BPaaS offerings, too.

Probably the best part of the conversation revolved around the elimination of over $600 million in debt that had been adversely impacting the company’s cash flow and R&D. With that out of the way, the company has been morphing its products and services extensively.

NGA HR now has relationships with Kronos for Time & Attendance and Workforce Management functionality. That relationship has already spawned a major pilot with a leading German manufacturer.

NGA HR is planning to use more RPA (robotic process automation) and other new technologies to help it grow the number of service centers and the services offered within them. They goal is to do so without adding net-new headcount to the company.

Works Applications

I wrote about Works Applications last year when I had a chance to spend over an hour with their executives. Unlike many ERP competitors, the vast majority (approximately 80%) of the company’s headcount is in development. Total headcount is now over 4,900 employees.

Works Applications has enjoyed a fair amount of success in Japan. Statistics they shared with Frank and I suggest they have made substantial in-roads in displacing many major ERP vendor solutions from local and foreign subsidiaries of multi-nationals in Japan. Some of the company’s solutions are OEM’d with other software/BPO providers.


Within the HR space, Works Applications has gained against old and new market entrants within Japan.

At HR Tech, Works Applications was promoting its HR applications and its AI (artificial intelligence) powered ERP software. What Works Applications has been developing is functionality within the product line that predicts what data users will want/need to key in. This, according to the vendor, dramatically reduces the amount of time users spend doing low-value added tasks like data entry. This AI technology is known as AI Works. Besides the predictive aspect, it also permits the use/accumulation of non-transaction data and easier communication. How? The software is grabbing key data elements from documents like vendor invoices and pre-placing them in appropriate fields. I see it as a form of robotic process automation.

Works Applications appears to have all of its development personnel focused on the one, multi-tenant, in-memory application. They really don’t want customers tailoring or customizing the software. Instead, the company incorporates as many best practices as possible within the one solution. As a result, the product isn’t really open to third parties (e.g., integrators) at this time.

The firm has started to staff up its North American operations. It has already signed two major U.S. customers.

Aon Hewitt

If you didn’t think Workday was a hot commodity in HR, you clearly haven’t been talking to all of the service providers angling for some of that market. Aon Hewitt has bought two Workday implementation firms, Kloud and Omnipoint, in recent years. They do more than just implement Workday, they also provide a number of operational services, too. Specifically, the offer a range of design, build and run offerings.

Soon, Aon will be moving into Workday Financials, too. They believe there are substantial synergies between the HR and Finance products (I’d concur).

Aon also acquired a firm called Modern Survey. This technology brings a well-designed set of survey and analytic tools to companies that want to measure a number of aspects of an employee’s life within the firm. These tools cover everything from pre-employment surveys to exit interviews. This particular tool may be a great in-fill sales opportunity for Aon and offers them competitive differentiation. It will provide a lot of the data that their Heat tool can use.

Aon is a big player in the HR and benefits space. They serve 80% of the Fortune 500 and have offices in 90 countries. They do HR BPO, benefits administration and much more. Their client list alone is a veritable who’s who listing.


Entelo is another vendor I’ve written about several times. At HR Tech, I only got a quick update. The firm has now grown to 100 employees and they use their own passive recruiting/big data solution to find additional talent.

Entelo keeps showing up as a partner with several HR and Talent Acquisition solutions. Their brand awareness and solution capabilities are certainly well-known now in the HR space.

Entelo does some amazing analysis of people’s employment profiles. By supplementing this with big data feeds, they can predict things like when you’re likely to consider a job change and who your next employer will be.  (I double dare them to predict my next employer!).

SAP SuccessFactors

Probably the most interesting aspect of the short conversation that Frank and I had with David Ludlow and the gang from SAP was around their Altiscale acquisition. Altiscale offers a Big Data as a Service capability using Hadoop and other open source technologies.

We should soon see SuccessFactors using the new technology to bring machine learning (AI) technology into the suite. One case study we heard could involve the detection of bias in HR datasets.

We also heard that the new Fiori UI (user interface) is now in the SuccessFactors products. The SuccessFactors product line should be off the Oracle RDBMS by 2017. HANA will replace it. Coinciding with the database change, SAP will upgrade the SuccessFactor’s cloud data centers so that they have a configuration (think HANA, in-memory DB) more consistent with other SAP cloud data centers.

SAP appears focused on delivering more insight into the decision making aspects of HR software. It’s also betting big on increasing the scale and flexibility of its HR solutions.

For next year

For next year, I think we’ll all want to hear more about firms like:

  • Degreed (they’ve got a new approach to Learning)
  • PlanSource (a very efficient way to deal with Benefits)
  • HighGround (employee engagement vendor that’s already attracting big customers)
  • RandRR (a new approach to recruiting that will launch in 2017)
  • Namely (a mid-market solution/platform that brings together HR functions & people in ways that increase engagement, reduce costs, etc.)
  • MOVE Guides (a solution that helps companies relocate workers)
  • Strategic Management Decisions (an assessment/survey provider with a 10% turnover reduction guarantee), and
  • GuideSpark (a provider of video and other content to help HR communicate policies, benefits, etc.).

Looks like innovation is alive and well in the HR space.

Image credit - via vendors and HR Tech

Disclosure - Infor, Financial Force and SAP are premier partners at time of writing

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