One of the most popular events at the HR Technology conference was The Great Technology Debate with Jason Averbrook and Jim Holincheck. (For a deeper look into the debate check out John Zappe's article, Analytics Driving New Definition of "Best of Breed".) While the two spoke about many issues facing Strategic Human Capital Management and HR Technology, one of the most interesting discussions of the debate was their opinions on where the HR industry was heading in terms of product suites vs. best of breed solutions.
I think this particular conversation is a very interesting one and I wanted to explore the topic a little bit more. In this article, I'll be taking a look at the benefits and weaknesses of both technology strategies as well as discuss where we expect the technology space, in particular recruiting technology, to be moving towards.
Here are the main benefits and weaknesses of product suites / platforms and best of breed solutions:
Less Expensive - Full product suites can provide you with multiple solutions across various HR / Recruiting functions at much cheaper rate than purchasing several point solutions for each function.
Integration - It is extremely important that every solution that you put into your process, integrates with one another and leverages all their unique abilities. This integration can be done after the fact but is baked into any good product suite or platform.
Superior Data - Due to integration of all your solutions, product suites enable users to utilize data from all your separate function solutions! Product suites should make this data available all in one central dashboard enabling users to quickly and easily optimize your performance.
One Vendor to Support - This one is straight forward. With one vendor all your problems and questions can be escalated to one contact instead of multiple contacts. This will save you time and should ensure more immediate response for all your questions.
Solutions may not be best of breed - With full product suites, the underlying focus is providing multiple solutions across an overall discipline. Because this is the focus, not all attention and resources go to one specific solution.
Eggs in one basket - With a product suite, you are subject to one vendor. So you need to make sure that the vendor you choose is the right fit for your organization as it will be hard to switch down the road as you are fully invested.
Solutions are best fit for your problem - If you do proper due diligence in selecting a vendor, you should come out with a point solution that fits your needs perfectly for a select HR function.
Experts in the Field - Best of breed vendors should be experts in their field. They focus on a particular need and put all their resources to providing solutions to that need!
Vendor Relations - Working with multiple vendors can be a full time job. And getting vendors to work together on an issue can sometimes be problematic. You may also see the "pointing finger" syndrome when problems arise with vendors not wanting to admit it was their system that caused the problem and point to your other solutions as the culprit.
Expensive - Purchasing multiple point solutions that are the best of their kind can be extremely expensive for most organizations as opposed to buying one platform.
Integration Issues - Best of Breed solutions offer a great solution to solve an individual need but it can be difficult to fully integrate one silo solution with another. It can also be costly to do so in-house which will most likely be needed for the solutions you bring in.
Silo's of Data - The biggest issue, which John touches upon in his article, is that multiple point solutions can create silo's of important data across your organization. So every time you want to look through the data you need to go through five solutions instead of 1 to pull all of it. Second, and most importantly, you are losing any data in which the solutions interact, which can be important data as well.
The whole HR industry and in particular the recruiting industry are shifting towards product suites. With the recent consolidation and new entrants into these sectors, more and more vendors are taking the product suites approach due to the many advantages it brings (less cost, superior integration, better more complete data).
This shift is particularly interesting in the recruitment technology space. In today's environment, recruitment technology is still in best of breed mode with most vendors offering siloed solutions ranging from Job Ad Distribution to Recruitment CRM to SEO to Social Recruiting.
We fully expect a new category to form called "Recruitment Marketing Platforms" and we have positioned SmashFly to be at the forefront of this category. With our Recruitment Marketing Platform called WildFirewe brought multiple recruiting solutions (Job Ad Distribution, Recruitment CRM, Recruitment Metrics, Resume Sourcing, etc.) together in one centralized platform creating a full recruiting product suite.
I would argue that they don't have to be and that this question will cease to exist in a few years. I believe HR buyers are starting to realize the benefits of product suite / platform solutions and will be expecting the same level of service and functionality as the traditional "best of breed" solutions across the suite / platform. Therefore technology companies, like SmashFly, will need to provide their clients with the benefits of a suite with the functionality of the "best of breed" solutions. The ones that don't do this will fall behind.
I expect to see more consolidation and overall innovation in the industry as vendors begin to create what I'll call "best of breed" suites and platforms! Luckily, we are already ahead of this curve!
Originally posted on the SmashFly Recruitment Marketing Blog.