T3 – Are Enterprise HCM systems Killing Talent Acquisition?

Last week I sat down with the folks at iCIMS to take a look at their system. iCIMS is the second largest ATS/ talent platform by market share for enterprise-level organizations, with only Taleo (Oracle) being larger. Workday, Ultimate Software, IBM/Kenexa, and SAP/SuccessFactors are also large players in this space that are growing quickly.

Do you see what all of them (except iCIMS) have in common?

That’s right, all of those other ATSs are apart of full suite focused HCM products.

Does that make a difference? Yes.

The people selling you full HCM (Oracles, SAP, Workday, IBM, etc.) will tell you all of the advantages of having all of your data under one umbrella in using one fully integrated system.

What they won’t tell you is that they really specialize in HCM and that their talent acquisition products/modules are probably 2-3 years behind where modern-day ATS systems are at. Also, with cloud-based, open API ATS systems, getting data to sync between your ATS and your HCM is no longer something that is difficult.

Enterprise level HCMs are built for large/giant level sized organizations. Those organizations with thousands, if not millions, of employees, do have some unique challenges, and all of these HCMs do a great job at addressing those needs. So far, they don’t do a great job at doing that on the talent side of the business.

This is where iCIMS comes into play. iCIMS is one of the few ATSs on the market built for enterprise and the specific ATS needs of large organizations. iCIMS has the background and experience of dealing with the compliance and volume of large hiring, coupled with a much more robust talent engine then you’ll find with the vanilla talent offerings that are currently being peddled by enterprise HCM vendors.

iCIMS also has a fully integrated marketplace that allows each organization to tailor what functionality they want and need. From background check providers, pre-hire assessments, video interviewing, texting, etc. These aren’t bolt-on technologies, but fully integrated, one-experience technologies you can choose from based on what functionality your organization needs, that isn’t already built into the main iCims products.

iCIMS has three main products: their ATS (Recruit) which is used by 100% of their clients, Connect (their CRM) used by about a quarter of their clients currently, but growing quickly, and Onboarding used by about half of their clients. iCIMS has also recently updated and improved their user-interface (UI) to make it look like many of the new ATSs on the market.

One major complaint I have with HCM ATS products right now (one of many) is the fact that almost all force candidates to register into the system to apply. This added friction into the apply process has been shown to be something candidates hate and causes massive candidate drop off. iCIMS gives organizations many options on how to handle this issue, and lets you decide how you want candidates to apply, allowing to eliminate as much of that friction as possible.

iCIMS also has an entire development team focused on Google for Jobs. Why is this important? Because you need your job postings to match as closely as possible to the GFJ schema to ensure your jobs are getting the highest candidate traffic possible.

Ultimately, if you are an enterprise organization you need to run an ATS that can handle enterprise-level demands. The big question is, do you want to run an ATS that helps you hire better and faster, or one that is just part of an overall larger system, not specifically designed to higher better and faster?

I think we are quickly approaching an HR Tech environment in our organizations where we need two major systems. You need a great HCM to handle your day-to-day employee HR related work. You need a great Talent Platform (Sourcing, CRM, ATS, etc.) to handle your talent attraction and hiring work. There is currently not one HCM on the market that does talent acquisition as well as stand-alone talent platforms can do it. And by the time they get to be equal to current stand-alone ATS platforms, they’ll still be behind, because those systems keep advancing at a very fast pace.

So, if you’re using an HCM platform to run your talent, what you’re basically saying is hiring the best talent really isn’t that important to us. You can tell yourself something different, but either you’re using great TA technology, or you’re not.


6 thoughts on “T3 – Are Enterprise HCM systems Killing Talent Acquisition?

  1. Have you had a briefing with one of the HCM vendors? I’ve been in the TA/tech space for 15 years (as a practitioner, a consultant and yes product management at one of the HCM vendors you mention). I don’t agree with the assessment that these players are 2-3 years behind a best of breed like iCIMS. You have to remember that iCIMS has been around for over a dozen years and some of these providers have only had a recruiting product for 3 years. They’ve all closed functional gaps extremely quickly.

    There are a number of benefits to managing talent holistically in a single platform (from WFP to TA to Talent Management/succession), rather than across multiple disparate systems. I won’t bore you with those here but I think you’re painting with a broad stroke. Honestly, many best of breed solutions aren’t able to scale to support true enterprise TA functions (25,000+ employees). Yes there may be functionality gaps, but HCM vendors are closing these very quickly. A point solution, however, can never offer the benefits of a unified talent platform.

    I would encourage you to get a briefing from these HCM vendors directly – to understand their vision and strategy, as well as their true capabilities (and shortcomings). In the example you referenced about forced account creation, we specifically designed our career site experience to allow for “guest checkout” and customers can configure their career site accordingly. However, based on the volume of candidates many companies receive (and the issues with duplicate management) many customers make a business decision to force account creation (don’t get me started on that). I would just encourage you to get a better understanding of HCM recruiting products before broadly generalizing that these vendors don’t understand the space and aren’t invested in delivering high quality TA products.

  2. To echo all your points, I hope they stay independent and not sell to one of the big HCM suites. If they do, others will rise up and fill their void at least as fast as they have been picking off Taleo clients!

  3. How much did they pay you for this excellent commercial endorsement? ICIMS is a good product but not that that that far above. And most organizations do not need the pretty bells and whistles that ICIMS offers, but are really never used. Besides they are very expensive. You pick what is right for your company, not what has the most dramatic dancing pigs.

    • Parker,

      iCims, and every other company I highlight on T3, have never paid me for what I say on my blog in these write-ups.

      Are there better options in the ATS space, other than iCims? Well, that depends on your organization and your needs, I’ve spoken about many great ATS systems on this blog.

      iCims is a strong option for companies to look at when they evaluate ATSs. So are many others, I recommend you look at many and find the right one for you.

      My issue is organizations using inferior talent tech in their stack.


  4. My organization made that mistake with Cornerstone OnDemand. Nice LMS; terrible ATS. Although we didn’t go with iCims and went with Jobvite, I agree that organizations need to keep their HCMs & ATS systems separate. iCims, to us, wasn’t flexible enough; although overall they are a good system

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