I have arrived back from the future which is the present--recently attending the ERE Recruiting Innovation Summit here in Mountain View, CA. As one might expect of a conference held in Silicon Valley, there was a leaning toward leading and bleeding edge Talent Acquisition Technology (TAT) solutions. The coverage of types of TAT solution providers was not exhaustive, but TAT participants and sponsors did represent a good sampling from this expanding universe/ecosystem, ranging from established providers to embryonic ones. Interestingly, (leaving jobsite DICE aside) the two most mature providers were LinkedIn and Talent Technologies, while the majority of TAT solution providers on hand were relatively fledgling and brimming with new ideas. By comparison, even the panel consisting of senior executives from Branchout, HireVue, and Jibe seemed mature and almost mainstream.
Getting exposure to this sampling of young TAT providers (some businesses still unlaunched and in beta, one just launched in January) confirmed for me my earlier observation that there appears to be a ferment of TAT innovations and start-ups percolating across the globe. Entrepreneurs and investors appear to see an opportunity to introduce new, possibly disruptive, solutions and test them with the talent acquisition user communities/markets in the hopes of striking gold. Of course, only a subset of these ideas will pan out, but all of those I saw certainly represented serious innovative problem solving activities. For the most part, at the Innovation Summit, no one was "trying to solve world hunger" at enterprise or industry supply chain levels, rather to attack more-fine-grained talent acquisition requirements (requirements that were technologically infeasible or economically prohibitive just 5-10 years ago, but now supportable given social, analytic, and other technologies).
Out of all of this, there were a few of these new providers I wanted to highlight as possibly bringing new ideas and solutions with some applicability in the contingent staffing industry. Solutions of this sort promise new velocity and precision in the candidate identification, assessment, and relationship management processes.
There were two new companies (worth mentioning in this regard) which were among the six final contestants (Goood Job, Lab of Apps, Mystery Applicant, Ongig, Traitperception, and Venturocket) participating as finalists in the afternoon Innovation Summit Start-Up Competition.
The winner of the competition and the ten thousand dollar award was Mystery Applicant (a mysterious name for a very ingenious application). Here’s how they explain themselves:
"Mystery Applicant is an innovative candidate research tool that analyzes applicant feedback throughout the recruitment process. It works in real time and provides you with a wealth of data and insights to help you drive best practice. Mystery Applicant takes volumes of complicated data and turns it into meaningful and accessible information, giving you a complete and up to date view of your candidate landscape. … Mystery Applicant delivers key data and insights that you can use to answer a whole range of questions:
- Are you delivering a positive candidate experience?
- What is motivating candidates to apply?
- How does this compare with your employment offer?
- How useful is the content you provide to job seekers?
- How do you compare against other employers?
- Where can you improve your processes?
- Which supplier relationships are adding value to your brand?"
If you could, wouldn’t you like to unmask mystery applicants and tune into your candidates and their behaviors and decisions with surgical precision? A rhetorical question....
The second provider with some interesting stuff was Venturocket, an early stage company with a software platform that enables a virtual “skill market,” for employers and candidates, that is based on an exchange of a candidate’s individual hard skills relative to their value (cost) as determined in the skills market.
According to Venturocket, "skills and cost are 'calibrated' by the market. That is, the system determines the price range for each skill based on job seekers' bids. There is a specific starting price range for each skill that will begin to vary when it passes a certain threshold number of bids. At that point, the range will shift and expand/contract based on the bids that make up the market."
A very sharp idea, with a killer graphic set of tools for calibrating skills, skill levels, and skill values.
Last but not least, outside of the Start-Up Competition, was an event sponsor/exhibitor called UpMo (a Silicon Valley-based start-up that launched commercially in January of this year). UpMo provides an internal-to-company, career management social network tool that allows companies to stay on top of internal talent and engage that talent for re-application in the next appropriate internal opportunity (jobs, projects, etc.). While UpMo is focusing initially on corporate organizations seeking to get the most out of their own internal talent, it occurred to me that UpMo might just as well be applicable and valuable in contingency staffing firms where (a) assignments/positions are temporary and talented candidates need to be retained and recycled serially into future assignment/positions and (b) contingent workers (temps, ICs, etc.) yearn for better communications, more proactive information about next assignments, and possibly even some sense of how they are constructing themselves as talent (what would traditionally be "a career path" for the permanently employed) – see 2012 Temporary Worker Survey: What Staffing Firms Are Doing Right? What Could They Do Better?
These are just three examples of highly specialized, spanking new TAT solutions that can be woven into the fabric of a firm’s talent acquisition processes and information systems. Just three examples and a small sample of a larger, growing population of TAT solution innovators.
As I noted several months ago in my report, Talent Acquisition Technology (TAT): What It Is and Where It's Going,
Future TAT will be very different and more permeated (and integrated) than what has gone before (past TAT). It will be powered by new technologies and support new valuable capabilities for employment marketing and sourcing, candidate relationship management, talent community development, assessment and selection. … In addition, functional ease-of-use and ease-of-access should be much improved, based on new architectures already tested and adopted in the consumer sector… Finally, economic accessibility will be improved due to cost efficiencies of cloud computing and new dominant pricing models based on service subscriptions and multi-sided platforms (where the cost of one side can be reduced by subsidization of another side)…. The lower entry and exit costs associated with new technology and the nature of its delivery "as-a-service" will likely give rise to adoption of new experimental practices in firms for testing and selecting technology applications. This will require heightened managerial agility and new competencies in technology services procurement, process redesign, and internal change management. In any case, staffing firms that have not started paying more attention to transformative technology applications by now will certainly need to do so in 2012.
New innovative TAT providers are being spawned rapidly—not broad monolithic applications, but rather fine-grained, specialized "services" that can be interwoven into cloud architectures. Not all will be viable, but some solutions/services will be and may give some staffing firms competitive advantages if they are able to identify them and leverage them effectively.