The War for Talent: Technology in HR

The War for Talent has been neither a 6-day war, nor a 10 years’ war. Since the coining of the term by McKinsey & Co in the late 90’s, corporations’ struggle to find, evaluate, retain and better enable new talent has only intensified over time. The need for highly-skilled workers in developed economies continues to grow at record rates, with some estimates putting the talent shortage for advanced economies at 18 million workers by 2020. Some industries have it harder than others — unemployment rates for web developers, for example, are at an astounding 0.7% — but all businesses are trying anything and everything to confront this reality. This includes leveraging technology to make all parts of their hiring and training processes more efficient so that they can both more effectively find the talent they need and keep them on board if they are lucky enough to find the right person. Innovations across the spectrum, from talent discovery to performance tracking, have seen tremendous traction, and growth equity investors have continued to invest heavily in the sector as entrepreneurs set out to solve this pain point for companies.

The early phases of the talent management process, including talent discovery, recruitment and process management, have already seen many success cases. Jibe, founded in March 2010, provides human capital software platforms to a variety of companies, not just those operating within the technology industry. Jibe builds custom software to enable companies to analyze which job distribution channels are performing best, deploy an employee referral platform, and better interact with potential candidates without the need to change a company’s existing applicant tracking system. Jibe has raised over $41 million, with its most recent May 2014 funding coming in the form of a $20 million Series C led by SAP Ventures with existing investors including Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Thrive Capital, Longworth Venture Partners, and Polaris Partners.

Hirevue was founded in April 2004 and is disrupting the interview. Hirevue allows individuals to browse, watch, and share interviews on a digital interview platform. The firm prides itself on its streaming services, resembling that of a Netflix or HBO-GO. Intel, Walmart, Nike, and Starbucks are among the larger corporations that utilize Hirevue’s human resources software solutions. Hirevue has raised $52 million over three funding rounds with leading investors such as Investor Growth Capital, Sequoia Capital, Granite Ventures, and Rose Park Advisors.

Software providers focusing on the post-hire aspect of talent management have also attracted significant attention. PeopleMatter operates a cloud-based platform that allows businesses to manage, motivate, and track their employees. Founded in September 2009, PeopleMatter’s services target convenience stores and foodservice chains, and its platform includes labor forecasting and employee rewards programs. Another leader in the training space is Multimedia Plus (MMP). MMP’s QuizScore platform allows companies to seamlessly communicate with large retail workforces across diverse geographic locations in real time while providing media rich interactive training content and timely new product information. QuizScore also enables managers to continuously track employee training performance. MMP has especially seen rapid adoption among top-tier apparel and retail brands.

Visier is a solution that lets HR better answer questions around macro workforce strategy by integrating with companies’ complex HR data sources and allowing executives to gain real-time access to over 300 metrics that let them know exactly how their workforce is performing. Visier software analytics offer insights regarding attrition rates, outliers in employee compensation, and investments in training and development initiatives across locations. Visier has raised over $46 million in growth capital since its founding in March 2010. Most recently, it closed a $25 million Series C in June 2014, after doubling its customer count and tripling revenue growth, that included renowned growth investors Foundation Capital, Summit Partners, and Adams Street Partners. These investors were attracted to Visier’s early successes in providing a cloud-based analytics platform specifically made for and used by human resources professionals.

Technology isn’t a silver bullet when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. There are many factors that can’t be simplified to 1’s and 0’s that go into a company’s ability to rally employees around its mission for the long term, including its level of social involvement and overall company culture which are increasingly important for younger generations. Still, technology allows companies to simplify the parts of their HR processes that can be made more efficient so that they can focus on their core business, mission and culture. A multitude of growth-stage companies within the talent management space have been successful in addressing many concerns related to hiring, tracking and motivating employees; the age of Big Data and proliferation of mobile technologies has certainly provided firms like Visier, Jibe, HireVue, Multimedia Plus and PeopleMatter, among many others, with the opportunities to craft business and human capital solutions for an array of small and medium businesses and large, multinational corporations. The persistent role of software in what is by nature a “people business” is only just being fomented, but all indications have been that growth in the talent management space will undoubtedly provide great opportunities for additional technological innovation and growth equity investors alike for the foreseeable future.


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