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IBM and SAP Partner to Enhance HCM Service Offerings

In early May, IBM and SAP announced a partnership to provide enhanced HR software and services to each other’s clients.  On June 5, IBM Kenexa and SAP SuccessFactors execs held a call to further explain the rationale for the partnership and its expected benefits. This includes integration and access to each other’s HCM software, allowing clients to select the offering that best meets their needs.    

Included are plans to integrate SAP SuccessFactors’ Employee Central software and IBM Kenexa’s Talent Acquisition software services. The partnership will provide IBM Kenexa customers with cloud capability and access to Employee Central software and data while keeping their current HCM software and services if they would like. SAP SuccessFactors’ clients on Employee Central will have access to Kenexa data (e.g. recruitment data) and options for software and services from IBM Kenexa including recruiting, assessment and onboarding of candidates.

An offering planned for H2 2015 will be the integration between IBM Kenexa’s Learning Content Management System (LCMS) and SuccessFactors’ Learning. According to NelsonHall research, SuccessFactors is one of the mostly commonly used Learning Management Systems (LMS) in the market. In addition, both companies will make their analytics offering available to each other’s clients.  

It is important to note that neither company’s products and services are going away, e.g. SAP is not getting out of the recruiting business and will still promote Employee Central’s recruiting capability. This is also not an exclusive relationship. Both companies can still partner with other providers.

Why is this Partnership Different?

Beyond the cloud and software and data integration capability, an important aspect of this partnership is the opportunity to cross-sell services. For example, if a SuccessFactors Employee Central Client has a need beyond software for recruiters, IBM Kenexa can provide this as a service. Likewise, if an Employee Central Client has a need beyond learning software for services, as a Learning BPO provider, IBM can provide services including learning administration, content development and delivery of training.  

There are many HCM software offerings in the market from HCM vendors who do not have services capability. Bringing the HCM capabilities together is a good thing for existing and future clients, making it easier to obtain software and services that meet their needs as seamlessly as possible. Clients will have the option of a single contract as they do now, e.g. IBM already resells SAP, so a client could potentially buy all services through IBM and vice versa.

Unlike the majority of HR partnerships, which are primarily to expand geographic capability or to add technology or services capability that did not exist before, this partnership is more about providing best options of technology and services to clients, including choice of analytics.

What comes next includes joint sales campaigns to promote products and services available to each other’s clients. It will be interesting to watch its development and I believe there is further potential in this interesting arrangement between IBM and SAP. 

Comments to this post:

  • Nice, succinct explanation, Gary, re: how clients of both companies can benefit from the IBM / SAP partnership.

    Jun 23, 2015, by Alesa

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