When we lost Johnny Carson, we lost a great entertainer. For thirty years, 1962 to 1992, he dominated late night television, and he did that without insulting our intelligence or our sensibilities. My beloved grandmother, Bubbi Bloom, with whom I lived through much of high school, would get ready for Johnny’s Tonight Show by putting on a lovely nightgown and robe and freshening her hair and makeup. And no matter how often we told her that he couldn’t see her, she was unconvinced. Prove it, she would say, to which there simply wasn’t an adequate answer.
One of Johnny’s best-loved characters was Carnac the Magnificent. I’ve often used Carnac in my work, pretending to be him, when confronted with the unknowable, the unanswerable, the irrational questions for which no reasonable responses are going to solve the problem. Unfortunately, as I age but my clients don’t, more and more of them haven’t a clue about Carnac and just think my little skits are wierd. Such is life.
So why is Carnac showing here, and now? Well, there have been and will be many more blog post predictions (including my own recent post about likely vendor consolidations) about what’s going to happen in 2011 in human resource management (HRM), in HRM technology, in HRM BPO and in the HRM delivery system. Some of them may even prove correct when we look back at the end of this year. But what all of us would really like to know aren’t the answers to the known questions (whose answers are already in process) but rather how we should prepare for the unknown questions (those questions which just haven’t presented themselves yet). And that was Carnac’s great gift. Hhe was able to discern the answers to questions hidden in the proverbial “the envelope please” just by holding that envelope to his forehead, thus engaging his powerful brain.
With many thanks to Johnny Carson for his contributions to my education, here’s my attempt at answering the unknowable questions that will confront our industry in 2011:
- Answer: None.
- And the question is: How many “fake” SaaS HRM software vendors will be on a trajectory to achieve $250 million in annual recurring revenue from their HRM software (because some may offer more than HRM) with 25% real margins by the end of 2011?
- Answer: No.
- And the question is: Will Lawson retain its current leadership, ownership, product mix, and/or non-SaaS HCM product strategy by the end of 2011?
- Answer: Very few.
- And the question is: How many full-scale, global implementations in organizations with more than 5,000 workers will there be by the end of 2011 of Oracle Fusion HCM where the losing vendor is anyone other than Oracle PeopleSoft or EBS HCM?
- Answer: Yes.
- And the question is: Will SAP have taken all customer size restrictions off the subscribing of Business ByDesign by the end of 2011, letting prospects choose that platform wherever it fits, albeit without much fanfare?
- Answer: Two, possibly three.
- And the question is: How many brand new, mega-deals (so greater than $50 million USD in total contract value) will be signed for comprehensive HRM BPO at the highest end of the market in 2011?
- Answer: Dozens.
- And the question is: How many roll-up acquisitions will be done in the US among “mom and pop” PEOs and/or payroll service bureaus and/or background checking and/or applicant tracking and/or performance management software vendors during 2011?
- Answer: All of the larger talent management suite vendors.
- And the question is: How many of the larger talent management suite vendors will already offer or be building/buying towards offering at least the core HRM functionality of the system of record (SOR) for at least the small to middle market?
- Answer: Very few to none.
- And the question is: How many of the larger talent management suite vendors will actually support the level of global HRM compliance in their version of an SOR that larger organizations take for granted when their SOR is a traditional ERP/HRMS.
- Answer: <5%
- And the question is: What percentage of HR leaders in large and global organizations will have achieved globally standardized semantics for their talent management foundation data, including job, position, KSAOCs, work unit, work location, total compensation plan, employee and contingent worker along with the related demographic/indicative attributes?
- Answer: <5%
- And the question is: What percentage of HR leaders will be able to demonstrate via provable analytics what impact their top three (in terms of financial investment) people-related expenditures produce in terms of improved business outcomes?
- Answer: Neither!
- And the question is: Who will retire first, Naomi Bloom or Dave Duffield?
Updated 2-2-2011: In the interests of full disclosure, many of the vendors mentioned or referenced by their telltale characteristics in this post have been/are/are likely to be clients.