Last month, KPCB’s Mary Meeker presented KPCB’s 2015 Internet Trends report and what a treasure trove it is.

One trend that Meeker commented on was the “re-imagining of enterprise computing” which is now “changing business process one segment at a time”. The unsaid message is that the way enterprise computing has been imagined (as a suite of integrated applications across many business activities and processes) is no longer fit for purpose.

The fact is that an increasing number of new innovative software companies are taking a fresh look at core business processes and are transforming the nature of work itself. Ask yourself; How did you manage your files before Dropbox? How did you collaborate before Slack?  How did you coordinate projects before Asana or Basecamp? How did you know what was happening in your professional network before LinkedIn?

Twitter Aaron Levie

Most of the talent management technology in use today was conceived for the management and organizational imperatives of the 20th century. The principles of FW Taylor and Scientific Management still run through these talent management suites and they assume:

  • Jobs, roles, skills and motivations can be standardised
  • People will be in a job for life
  • Mangers actually know what skills they need and have
  • People work in a hierarchy
  • The talent they need is only inside the organization (or that it can somehow be ‘acquired’)
  • The organization must own all the data – even that volunteered by its own people
  • The organization’s data security is more important than the employee’s data privacy
  • People learn when they are trained
  • Performance reviews actually impact performance
  • Engagement can be coerced

This is all patent nonsense. Organizations have moved on; their employees have moved on; society has moved on; technology has moved on; and yet the existing talent management platforms continue to promote an approach to the talent lifecycle that is, except for a few very narrow business processes, low value at best.  While the war for talent rumbles on its essence has changed fundamentally but the tools have not.

I don’t blame the existing vendors for the situation they find themselves in (and for complete disclosure I was involved in the building of these platforms over the last 15 years). But like many industries before, their products have become bloated, slow to evolve and clumsy to use as they seek to be everything to everyone. Talent management platforms are expensive to buy and implement, and inherently political as they rely upon aligning the support of a wide range of stakeholders.  Talent management is showing the characteristics of an industry ripe for disruption.

In a previous blog post I spoke about the unbundling of talent management and identified some amazing start-ups who are taking a fresh look at discrete elements of the talent management life cycle.

People have asked me whether all these start-up or their VC backers will make money? The answer, of course, is ‘no not ALL of them.’ But by the entrepreneurial act of “re-imagining” enterprise talent management they are providing the tools needed to fight today’s war.

To see what the future of talent management will look like check out TeamFit.