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#HRTechChat Preview: IBM, Kenexa, and a Bushel of Bananas

Whenever a gigantic organization announces that it will absorb an entity large in its own right, but not nearly as large, the chattering class starts chattering, the intelligentsia shows its intelligence, prognosticators prognosticate, gesticulators gesticulate, and reporters report. That's what just happened (again) in the marketplace for human resource technology, and we're going to report. A long-tail discussion has arisen organically in the wake of IBM's acquisition of Kenexa. News that Kenexa went the way of fellow talent management technology powerhouses SuccessFactors and Taleo—i.e., giving itself to an 800-pound gorilla—has provided fodder for #HRTechChat Episode Thirty.
 
Editor's Note: This preview, originally published early on Friday, Aug. 31, has been modified. We elected to cancel #HRTechChat in advance of the Labor Day holiday weekend. #HRTechChat Episode Thirty will now occur on Friday, Sept. 7, at the regular time of day, when the subject matter will remain IBM's acquisition of Kenexa.
 
What Will 800-Pound Gorilla IBM Do With Its New Kenexa Bananas?
 
Ostensibly, IBM wants to compete with SAP and Oracle in the talent management ring of the three-ring circus that is the business of enterprise software. Each of these gorillas has an apparent toehold to muscle into Workday’s domain, too; John Sumser, analyst for HRxAnalysts and editor in chief of HRExaminer, however, cautions that “one look at the operations of any of the three acquirers will let you know that technology is secondary in the enterprise software business.” Sumser also predicts that one or more of Kenexa’s many moving talent management technology parts will no longer “be standing a year from now.” In other words, it’s a bunch of bananas, and the latest gorilla to the party probably won’t eat the entire bushel.
 
A few of those bananas in the bushel represent data. In his article about the acquisition, Forbes Contributor and gPress Managing Partner Gil Press contends that IBM purchased Kenexa for the treasure trove of “Big Social Data” and the analysis of that data. The value in all that data found in and generated by social networks is in the interpretation and presentation, a self-evident assertion that Press and others are advancing. IBM, the thinking goes, is angling to deliver value to the C-suite in these ways, and a short piece by The Wall Street Journal’s Shara Tibken reflects Press’ thinking.
 
In his own Forbes-published take on the news, Ted Schadler, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, posits that IBM has indeed bought Kenexa to reach the HR executive buyer, who in coming years, he suggests, will seek and need automation for processes more complex and irregular than the transactional and administrative-based, whose technologies are already highly developed. That might be another way of saying automation is about to descend on the higher-brain functions part and parcel of business. That’s a big bushel of bananas.
 
#HRTechChat Episode Thirty: Join Us Friday 9/7 @ 2pm ET / 11am PT
 
So, what do you think? Why not cap off your workweek with lively debate and conversation centering on M&A in the HR technology marketplace? Starting at about 2pm ET / 11am PT on Friday, Sept. 7, @TalentMgmtTech will begin tweeting the following questions, all geared toward a discussion on the possible meanings behind and ramifications of IBM’s acquisition of Kenexa:

  • Q1: What does #IBM’s acquisition of #Kenexa mean for SAP and Oracle? #HRTechChat
  • Q2: What are the pros & cons of this acquisition? What did #IBM gain? What will IBM’s related challenges be? #HRTechChat
  • Q3: How do #BigData & #socialmedia figure into #IBM’s acquisition of #Kenexa?
  • Q4: Which of Kenexa’s products are most & least likely to survive the acquisition? How will Kenexa change? #HRTechChat
  • Q5: What do this past year’s acquisitions mean, so far, for talent management? #HRTechChat
  • BONUS CONVO: #Workday just filed for its IPO. How does that figure into the equation of M&A in #hrtech? #HRTechChat

 
Yes, #HRTechChat turns 30 on Sept. 7—episodes, that is. We thank the #TChat World of Work community for its support of #HRTechChat. That means, especially #TChat's co-founder, Meghan M. Biro (@MeghanMBiro). She and Brent Skinner (@brentskinner), tech editor for HRO Today, are co-founders of #HRTechChat. And #HRTechChat couldn’t put on the show every week without the social media prowess of Sean Charles (@SocialMediaSean), our co-host at-large. Please consider joining the three of us on Friday, Sept. 7, at 2pm ET / 11am PT. We look forward to your tweets.