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Integrated Talent Management, good strategy or fad?

Posted by Meg Bear on July 16, 2008

As you can imagine being a Talent vendor gives us an opportunity to talk to a lot of different customers, partners, analysts, etc.  This is probably one of the reasons I love what I do.  I really can think of nothing better then geeking out with a customer about innovative things they are doing to bring real value to their companies.  I realize that there might be some therapy for this condition, but for now I’m content knowing that I am a real geek and just happen to be fortunate enough to get paid for it.

I’ve been reading Jim’s retrospective on the talent coverage he has done since 2002 and finding interest in his view of the suite and how it has evolved in the past 5-ish years.  Was also talking with Bill Kutik about his HR Technology conference and how the shoot-out this year is about talent suites. To be honest, all of this talk about “best of suite” and “integrated talent management”  has not been sitting well with me lately.  I’ve been struggling to figure out what my beef is, since I do believe in the value that can be realized with a suite.  So why do I feel so negative about all the talk of integrated suites?

I expect that this topic will take me a few posts to figure out, but I decided that getting additional opinions might provide some help, so I decided to blog about it in half-baked form and see what discussion happens.

So what’s the deal?  Isn’t it true that companies can get more value from an integrated talent solution then they can from a silo’d solution (for example in Recruiting or Compensation or Performance Management).  Of course they can.  

But is the real discussion the integration or the vision?  That’s my issue.  I want to talk vision and we all seem to jump into solution. Solution is great, but please tell me that you are clear on what problems you want to solve.  All to often, I find people are wanting a talent management solution because they think that it’s the thing to do.  When I attempt to get more information, I find that they are struggling on some very tactical issues and a vision or a strategy is not even on their radar.  

Let me be clear, I am a big believer in solving tactical issues but I am a bigger believer in having a strategy so that as you solve tactical issues you can avoid having to re-solve them to achieve your strategy.

Here are some things that I would like to see more HR leaders talking about

  1. How do I provide value to the business to achieve their objectives?  Do I have the data and systems I need to do that?
  2. How do I provide a framework for our business to grow and adapt to changes in market conditions? demographics? regulatory requirements? etc?
  3. How do I grow the skills and capabilities of my own HR department to better provide for our business?
  4. How do I build a business case to show the business the value in the programs that I want to offer?
  5. How do I provide value to the C-suite with the products and services we provide?
Instead, I am seeing people mired in definitions of competency libraries or complaining about how hard it is to get reliable analytics.  Sure, an integrated talent solution will help you, but will it help you enough?  I’d argue that technology can only help you if you have a plan to use it effectively.

So, am I just channeling Sisyphus here on a pointless mission, or should I keep hoping for the day that we can have an adult conversation here? 

Please sound off in comments, what do you think we should be talking about instead of (or in addition to) a suite?  Or should I just get happy about all the suite discussions, figuring that the value can come later and at least people are headed in the right direction?  Thoughts?

6 Responses to “Integrated Talent Management, good strategy or fad?”

  1. Mark Bennett said

    You are on the right track, Meg. We should be talking about strategic HCM as it relates to suites. It takes a lot more work, but not defining the strategic problems a company is trying to address in talent will result in most of the realized benefits being more tactical in nature. Those tactical benefits are fine, but greater benefits are being missed and there is a risk that the way these tactical benefits are applied to local problems in incompatible ways will result in confusion down the line. In addition, as you point out and as has been described elsewhere, a strategic context makes challenges around competency libraries, metrics, analytics, etc. much more tractable. This is definitely worth the discussion.

  2. Meg Bear said

    Just spent a good 15 minutes attempting to insert some blank lines into this post (for readability), no idea why it was so difficult. Apologies for taking so long.

    @Mark thanks for joining in the discussion, maybe it is one that you and I will be having on our own 😉

  3. […] Meg’s discussion about realizing the strategic value of integrated talent suites, let’s start with the […]

  4. […] to know what HR functions they need to perform that day, or to view multiple sets of metrics. Meg Bear writes a few nice thoughts around integrated talent applications, but I’d like to make sure we don’t stop there – […]

  5. […] a lot of things that sound good about talent management that most companies aren’t doing yet. Fully integrated talent management, for instance. Job-specific competencies, for another. Even succession […]

  6. […] by Meg Bear on November 3, 2008  Those who have been reading for awhile know I’ve been pondering integrated talent solutions for some time.  I was happy to see the conversation continue when my good friends Jason and […]

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