Oracle-Taleo vs. SAP-SuccessFactors: a different feel

While Oracle’s acquisition of Taleo and SAP’s SucessFactors buy were both multi-billion human capital management deals, they’re very different, experts from Constellation Research said this week.

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The $1.9 million Oracle Taleo deal  is more of a “command and control” acquisition when compared to SAP’s purchase of SuccessFactors, according to analysts.

Oracle announced last week that it would buy Taleo, a human capital management (HCM) software-as-a-service (SaaS) company with about 5,000 customers. Some say that was partly a response to SAP announcing in December that it would acquire SuccessFactors for $3.4 billion, and overall was a signal of the burgeoning HCM SaaS market.

Despite the similarities, Yvette Cameron from Constellation Research said the two have different tones.

“With SAP they talked about running SuccessFactors as an entity within SAP,” said Cameron, a vice president and principal analyst with Constellation. “(Oracle-Taleo) definitely feels like more of a command-and-control. It causes me and others in the market to pause and ask questions.”

Cameron made her comments alongside other Constellation Research analysts, Ray Wang and Frank Scavo, during a webinar this week on the two acquisitions.

What do Cameron’s comments mean? She expects Taleo to be absorbed into Oracle more quickly and thoroughly. Though she and others added that doesn’t mean existing Taleo customers will or should jump ship.

The Oracle Taleo acquisition broadens customer HCM options

Scavo said any time a big acquisition happens, competitors jump in and offer so-called “safe passage” options to migrate customers to their platform, although that hasn’t appeared to have happened yet with the Oracle-Taleo and SAP-SuccessFactors deals. But from his experience, very few enterprise customers take the opportunity to rip-and-replace a crucial part of their enterprise resource planning (ERP) infrastructure.

“This is enterprise software,” he said. “It’s pretty sticky.”

Scavo did mention that an acquisition could affect more deals “in the pipeline” – that is, potential customers close to signing with Taleo. But the small- and long-term effect on existing Taleo customers will be small.

It’s no surprise. Taleo has thousands of customers, and Oracle is acquiring the company largely for that base. Oracle has gained much acquisition experience over the last decade, having done several multibillion deals including PeopleSoft, Siebel and Sun Microsystems. So the company has become adept at hammering through an acquisition and holding on to many of the acquired company’s customers.

Wang said the HCM acquisitions represent a “grab for seats.” He cited statistics showing that technology spending is up on the business side, signaling the consumerization of IT. As a result, tech vendors want to stretch their reach beyond IT and to influential business end users.

Finally, Scavo said Oracle customers can expect a solid SaaS-based recruiting product to be available within Oracle thanks to the Taleo acquisition, though how this will mesh with Fusion HCM is uncertain. One thing Taleo customers can definitely expect: their bills to go up.

“If they’re curious about that, they might want to talk to Sun customers, who are annoyed at maintenance contracts from Oracle right now,” Scavo said. “Oracle is really good at squeezing its customer base.”

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