No one was even close in the voting by some 800 or so recruiters, HR professionals, and others who cast electronic ballots at the end of three separate presentations by each company. The presentations addressed three typical corporate scenarios scripted by shootout organizer and HR Executive magazine writer Bill Kutik and Leighanne Levensaler, director of talent management research, at Bersin and Associates. It was the third win for Authoria in four years.
In each of the three rounds of voting, Authoria garnered over half the votes leaving Cornerstone OnDemand (profile; site), Salary.com (profile; site) and Softscape (profile; site) to divide the balance. The voting was even more lopsided, since none of the runners-up came in 2nd, 3rd, or 4th more than once (which under the unique rules of the shootout meant they all tied for 2nd place).
Although the anonymous voting doesn’t explain why the balloting went the way it did, audience chatter suggested the engaging presentation style of Authoria’s CEO Tod Loofbourrow had as much to do with the result as the features and the system’s ease of use and clarity of data.
The shootouts are a popular feature of HR Tech conferences. In the past, these competitions have featured ATS vendors and performance and learning. Today’s was the first to feature talent management systems.
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Kutik said the process is rigorous, beginning months ago with calls to 18 talent management vendors. Thirteen agreed to participate in fashioning the terms of the challenge, with nine falling out along the way. The remaining four were given a scenario with three acts and 15 minutes total time to present their solution in a demo-like environment. The shootout rules require the company CEO to handle the presentation personally.
ACME Company was the fictitious multinational firm and the scenarios were built around succession issues, performance management, gap analysis, and personnel development. The scenarios were crafted to explore how well each vendor was able to identify high performers, assist them in their career track planning, offer development assistance to fill gaps in their competencies, and drill down into problem areas, while also solving a typical corporate succession-planning challenge.
Each of the participants played through the scenarios, demonstrating how their systems provided the critical information and assisted in addressing and filling talent gaps. Softscape demonstrated its multi-platform delivery system by showing how the system can be used via a PDA. Branded as Talent Phone, Softscape CEO Dave Watkins showed that the entire analysis can be done on a handheld.
Salary.com CEO Kent Plunkett quipped at the beginning of his presentation that his talent management system is “an overnight success five years in the making.” It was a reference, of course, to it being less well-known to the industry. On the other hand, Cornerstone OnDemand CEO Adam Miller observed that his company was one of the largest HR software providers by virtue of its user base and worldwide distribution.