Thursday, December 15, 2011 acquires Rypple, putting pressure on SuccessFactors/SAP, Oracle, Taleo, and others (SFDC) reconfirmed it's place in the HCM market with the acquisition of Rypple today. The bigger story is really about what more is to come from SFDC. Read more on that here

Thursday, September 29, 2011

HR Vendors Fail At Social Media

It's painful to watch the HR Vendors miss the opportunity around HR Tech - and in general for that matter.

More here:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

HR Tech Vendors Are Being Watched Very Closely

We've been indexing ALL of the HR Tech buzz, across the Internet, since late August.  We've learned a lot about the vendors that play in the space.  Who knows how to leverage social media.  Who is struggling.  Who needs a clue.

More here:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hey HRTech Vendors, are you ready to compete with

When I posed the questions about Bill Kutik's post on Hottest New Technology Trends in HR for HR Tech, it turns out I was really on to something.  It wasn't wild-assed guess... I have been talking to vendors for a long time.  The pieces just really fit together. 

After my post Workday blogged that their intent was to develop an app for salesforce, then the CEO of 4 Spires commented on the LAROCQUE blog that they are announcing their app for the App Exchange imminently.  

Read all about it here  LAROCQUE BLOG

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Every HR Technology Marketer is looking for the Special Sauce

Every HR Technology vendor is looking for that secret ingredient - that special sauce - to make their marketing more effective - drive more conversions - put their brand on point...

Maybe what they need isn't special sauce, maybe they need a little "Sales and Marketing Hot Sauce"

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Marketing Messages Should Resonate Like Horoscopes

Sometimes really good analogies are just dropped right on your doorstep.

Here's one....

I'm forced to subscribe to the local newspaper (like physically - on my doorstep every day - because you can't get it on your iPad, but that's not for this blog).  Why am I forced? Well, in order to find things to keep two kids, age 6 and 3, occupied on weekends.  Not for news - this local paper has very little news in it (another can of worms for some other blog).  

So, every now and then as I'm flipping through the paper, the horoscope catches my eye - and it freaks me out how sometimes detailed and "on the money" it can be.  

Raises some interesting questions -  Are we humans all so predictable that they can plot cycles of different dimensions (work, relationships, finance) against annual cycles or is there something to it?  

The point here isn't whether I (or you) believe in Horoscopes or not.  But it is so incredibly related to brand and marketing messages in the Human Capital space.  The people that write Horoscopes know what makes us tick so well that what they write - and it's normally just a few sentences - resonates, sometimes at a deep meaningful level... and it's doing so for large numbers of people that are reading it at the same time.

You rarely read a Horoscope and think it's irrelevant.  However you sometimes read it and think, "Wow.  That is so in line with my life right now."

When you are marketing your product or service in the Human Capital space, you want the person receiving your brand/message to think, #1 it's relevant to them no matter how much it resonates, and #2 "That is so in line with what my department/business is dealing with right now."  In order to achieve this you have to have a deep understanding of the HR Professional and what makes them tick.

So do you?  I don't think you do.  

We are in the process of finalizing a study that culminates 2 years of research... and looking at the results has been incredibly eye-opening.  The assumptions we have all made about HR Executives, professionals, and buyers for the last 30 years (when I say we, I mean you... I'm too young to have 30 years experience... 20 years, sure)... Many of the assumptions are just plain wrong.

This is huge.  The friction between HR practitioners and Vendors in the space starts here. Marketing messages, value statements, sales messages, service strategies, and more... all developed to communicate to a profile that just isn't what we thought it was.

So, if most of the vendors are communicating in a context and a language geared for the wrong person - no wonder the HR Practitioner can't figure out who does what - the whole conversation started on the wrong page to begin with! 

We publish the report in the next week - it's big - and goes deep on who the HR practitioner, executive, and buyer is... how they like to engage with their vendors... and who they are as people.

I'll tell you this, most of you have them all wrong - and you're marketing and selling to them in the wrong ways.  From your messages to your offers to your strategic client strategies.

Thousands of HR pros helped us with this research in the interest of minimizing the friction in the market.  I'm excited to get this report out the door, and start doing just that!

Rest assured you'll hear from us as soon as the report is ready!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Brand Matters

I'm really excited about the work we're starting to do at HRxAnalysts. Starting with our Psycho-graphic Report on the HR Buyer, we are going to displace assumptions made about HR people/buyers for the last 30 years.  So many vendors are chasing a buyer profile that just isn't real any more.  Probably not surprising to a lot of HR people reading this, based on the marketing they receive on an ongoing basis.  We'll be offering the Executive Summary on this one in the next few weeks.

Next, the panel that we've built to engage in ongoing research about the brands and vendors that are in the space is the first of it's size - and of it's kind.  No other analyst firm is focused on brand, and no other firm is quantifying the buyers, while also quantifying the brands and brand experience of the vendors in the market.

We are looking at the gap between the Vendor's brand promise and messaging, and their brand perception in the market - and true brand experience with their customers.  We've found over the years that this gap has been increasing in most vendor's cases and we are beginning to illuminate this segment by segment.

Why does brand matter?

First, we're not talking about color palettes, logos, or which shiny happy faces or fonts are used on the website.  These are a part of your brand -  a very important part - that a different type of firm helps you with.  We're talking about where the rubber meets the road - an HCM technology or service's brand and messaging, versus perception and experience.  We're taking about the inflection point where buying decisions are made.

It matters a LOT.

It matters to the HR Pro and Buyer because knowing the TRUE value a of a service or product a vendor offers, versus  marketing and sale message can be the difference between the success of a project or a career.  Knowing how a vendor's current customer base rates the brand and compares the process of learning and selecting a product or service to the actual experience and value it provides POST implementation... that is HUGE.

It matters to the Vendors because the other side of this coin: setting, managing, and delivering on brand expectations in the market is the key to long term sustainable growth in a subscription-based market - and whether you're a service or technology, the Human Capital space is a subscription based market for the long view.  This is where revenue gets generated, customers get acquired, and how customers get retained.

I'm excited mostly about how this is all progressing.. but, I'm also excited about the start we're getting here.  In addition to the initial report being on track, we have serious traction in the market with key vendors in the several initial key verticals we are targeting. Our website is on track for launch this month.  Our dance cards are getting full for the ERE Spring show in San Diego.  We're running into good challenges in the business at an earlier stage than I expected - big decisions that we're making that will shape our future - the traction is real and the website isn't even live yet!

Regarding ERE, there is still some room if you want to meet with Johns Sumser and I, but please reach us soon.  Email me at  and we'll go from there.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What Do You See When You See Me?

I just finished reading a post by a vendor in our Human Capital space that outlines the history of their brand for close to 20 years… how it was conceived, how it changed over time, and what it is today.  It was well written and drove home that this vendor is filled with smart people having all the best of intentions. 
This particular vendor is one I’ve watched, literally, since day one.  I’ve actually worked with this vendor in several capacities over the years, and through many management regimes. 
I can vouch that this vendor TRIES to be what it believes it is.  However, I can also see clearly that in the eyes of it’s customers, partners, even many employees, it is not what the brand managers think it is.
Which vendor?  That’s not important today.  They are not unique and this problem is rampant in our market.  This vendor will be named and analyzed in several of our upcoming reports, on just this issue – and it will be fair to name them at that time – compared to their peers, and with tons of supporting data.
For now, I want to focus on the challenge.  Why?  Because this is the challenge HRxAnalyst is solving.
The vendors, like all of us, look in the mirror and see their best and worst features… however, they are too close to be objective.  They don’t see themselves the way their prospects and their customers do.  Their vision of who they would like to be in the future consistently clouds their vision of who they are and what value they provide to the customer/user today.
The problem gets compounded by the set of unsound stereotypes vendors use for the basis of their marketing.  Assumptions that “might” have worked in the 80s or early 90s, but not today.
The result to the HR Technology and Service buyer is a barrage of marketing messages from vendors that are not reflective of the value that their product or service really provide.  What’s worse is that those messages are molded around old HR stereotypes.
Taking it a step further – these marketing messages are commonly in sharp contrast to what the HR Tech and Service buyer/customer hears from the vendor sales teams and, as a customer will experience from their support teams.  In most situations we see, the actual brand ambassadors, the sales and support teams, are reading from different pages of music – even between themselves - when it comes to delivering messages around value and product to the marketplace.
No wonder the buyers can’t differentiate any of the vendors.  Every message delivered is in conflict with every experience or reference point.
HR Tech and Service buyers haven’t had a vehicle to update the vendor community about who they are, nor have they had information available that compared the brand messaging from vendors to the actual customer experience... that’s where we come in. 

We’re focused on removing this friction from the marketplace.

We’re moving on a series of studies and reports across the top verticals in the space that will help everyone make better business decisions – on both sides of buy/sell.  Vendors get educated on who they are really selling to; customers get educated on how vendor experience compares to brand and pitch.
It’s getting really exciting….   I wish I could share some of the data with you now, but we’ll be announcing dates very soon.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I've Been Here Before And I Like This Place

What a week for HRX Analysts!  Since our announcement momentum and traction has picked up on all fronts.  It seems that we were right on track in addressing the market's need for a clear picture of the buyer - as defined by the buyer ... combined a clear picture of what both customers and prospective customers think and feel about HR tech and service vendor brands is more than a little valuable to BOTH the buyers and marketers of services and tech in this space.
Our research effort is cranking.  It's more than just research.  We're building a panel (community so over-used, and so not what everyone needs) of HR Practitioners that are happy to candidly tell us what they think of themselves and their vendors in return for what we find on all fronts.  We are shortly going to an ENGAGED panel of a very large number of practitioners.  That's right - engaged.  And the number is getting so big, I'm saving it for a press release.  John Sumser wrote a piece on the Panel and why and how participation is so key.  Find it here:

Multiple reports are already defining themselves.  Based on the research, input/feedback from practitioners, and vendors clamoring for input on brand in a few key segments.  We are systematically pointing our technology, research, and field efforts toward several of the key segments.  I've started personally inviting a few vendors give us an overview of their brand.  The dance card is getting full... invitations are going out at a pace we can keep up with on the responses.  If you'd like to get your firm on the right list before our reports are published, you can reach me at

Products are shaping up nicely, and with client input.   Our cadre of products and services is shaping up nicely. 

Website Content is Close.... The progress on product and service definition tees up the website really well.

And last but not least - in fact most important - everyone involved in this effort is getting more and more passionate and more and more excited ... having more and more fun the more we do here.  And we've all been here before - we've all had some pretty successful runs - so, when these guys get as excited as I am, but didn't quite share because I didn't want to sound like the "rookie me of 15 years ago".... well.... that means something special is about to happen. 

Just an update on HRX Analysts for anyone that cares.  A more meaty post for Friday... or thereabouts ;-)


Friday, January 21, 2011

We Don't Need Another Traditional Analyst Firm

Today we announced HRX Analysts, focused on developing independent research into HR buyers and providers of HR software and services. It’s the announcement I referenced in my last post. I’m excited, but it’s hard to choose what I’m most excited about:

• working with the smartest and most creative friends I have. John Sumser at HRExaminer, and Bret Starr, Steve Smith, and every single one of my colleagues at Starr Tincup;

• building a company that is doing something that hasn’t been done before;

• or, bridging the gap between the HR Buyer and the HR Vendor, in a way that makes the market better exponentially.

I’ve taken the role of President, so the job description is really clear: run it. I’ve had a little bit of experience with that, so I think I’m ready. ;-)

The bar is high this time. I’m running a new venture, providing services independent of the two firms that helped create it. Those two firms happen to be industry powerhouses – Starr Tincup is THE full-service marketing agency in the Human Capital Management (HCM) space. – and John Sumser is an HCM media giant that sees and calls trends in this space well before anyone else. No pressure.

HRX Analysts will not be your old-school “traditional” analyst firm. We are focusing on brand. When I say brand I mean the place where the rubber meets the road for buyers and sellers in the market. The intersection between who a vendor is, how the market sees them, and how customers experience them. We’re leveraging technology and research methods that are innovative and not available in the HCM space to do this.

As an executive in the space since the 90s, building some of the most successful brands in it, I’ve consumed large numbers of hours of analyst and consulting time over the years – much of the time walking away scratching my head with regard to the value. The business I’m building gives you analysis you can actually use to cause changes in your strategy, business, or product that will impact your customer or your revenue in a meaningful and positive way – and consulting that will impact your business and provide sage advice to your team – battle tested advice and input that will help your team become more effective in a sustainable way.

The HR Buyer is the ultimate winner here. We will debunk myths about who you are and how you buy; give you perspective on the vendors, and who they are, that will help you make better decisions on what services and technologies to consider and ultimately use. We are going to cut through the noise in the space with our unique technology and research methods, giving the buyer clarity that wasn’t available before.

Stay tuned for the new website, new personal blogHRTECHANALYST.COM, etc.

This should be fun…

Here are links to the announcement on the HRExaminer and Starr Tincup websites: