Salesforce Further Infiltrates HCM with Acquisition of Slack

Enter a highly infectious virus. To slow its spread, institute widespread lock-down orders. In tandem, order office employees to work from home and staff usually in the field to embrace unfamiliar, hybrid onsite-offsite schedules. Mix in a healthy dose of confusion to accompany this massive disruption to the heretofore expected way of doing things. Before 2020, collaboration tech was already the functionality all the cool companies had. It has suddenly become the must-have for just about any company as we approach 2021.

Most nooks and crannies of the business could use effective applications for collaboration right now. Employees, customers, partners, prospects and other stakeholders need efficient, effective means, stat, to communicate, cooperate and coordinate. But end-to-end systems for the entire enterprise or silos of it are a pesky challenge when it comes to adding new functionality to them. So are long-in-the-tooth tech stacks.

The more technically inclined might disagree here or, conversely, identify additional root causes impeding vendors’ agility in expanding their products’ capabilities organically — in this case, into collaboration functionality. Suffice it to say, however, that the sophisticated technology needed for the level of collaboration businesses now need isn’t exactly easy to develop. Easier is for vendors to obtain it through acquisition — as is the case with plenty of functionality for mature business software vendors.

And this is what Salesforce just did. Last week the company announced its acquisition of the collaboration tool Slack for $27.7 billion. The development reveals that viable technology for collaboration can fetch top dollar, and the news brings companies using SFDC closer to obtaining a soup-to-nuts, full view of their clients’ journeys, pre-sale through the present. It’s a vision the CRM giant has coined as Salesforce Customer 360.

Crucially, it’s worth noting that SFDC’s move has implications for HCM. Beyond the built-in integrations in Slack for large HCM vendors, such as UKG, ADP, Workday and SAP SuccessFactors, collaboration functionality brings welcome potential depth to candidate relationship management wherever talent acquisition tools intersect with SFDC. And never mind the newfound relationships SFDC has, with a snap, struck with these very large companies.

For all the aforementioned upside, it’s about more. For years, many have talked of applying the structure of customer relationship management and its best practices to the candidate experience, or candidate relationship management; they even share an acronym. Improved collaboration between stakeholders makes that candidate experience stickier and higher-touch — ideal for capturing and retaining passive talent’s attention. And, of course, Slack-enabled collaboration will catalyze the productivity-minded promise of Salesforce for Employees and further facilitate activity around reskilling and career development that is part-and-parcel of Trailhead.

Consider all this rationale, and it’s easy to see why Paylocity, the provider of end-to-end HCM solutions to midsize and enterprise users, announced in mid-November its intent to acquire Samepage, “an all-in-one team collaboration solution.” According to the press release, “Through Paylocity’s acquisition of Samepage, clients and their employees can collaborate to elevate the remote work experience while increasing productivity and efficiency among teams.”

There’s a macro story here. As the pandemic continues to turbo-charge long-term trends in the employment of people, vendors of technology for HCM should do as Paylocity has: double-down on collaboration and all sorts of other functionality not traditionally a part of HCM’s domain, but intuitively in HCM’s wheelhouse anyway. These investments will be these vendors’ bulwark shielding their collective market share not only from Salesforce’s growing infiltration of HCM specifically, but also, generally, from bellwether, sea-change events sure to originate elsewhere.