At Saba, we watch industry events carefully and wanted to take a moment to share our point of view on SuccessFactors and SuccessFactors Competitors. SuccessFactors announced this week that it has acquired Plateau, the latest in a handful of such purchases carried out in an attempt to buy an “integrated suite” of products to address the needs of the human capital management market.
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While we congratulate SuccessFactors on their acquisitiveness, the number of acquisitions and the speed with which they were purchased couldn’t help but remind us of one of those game shows where the contestant in a supermarket has just a few minutes to fill their shopping cart with as many items as possible. In the past several months, SuccessFactors bought competitors and complimentary products Inform, CubeTree, Jambok, and now, Plateau, along with a rather large quantity of duct tape. All this in an effort to try to offer solutions to customers that Saba delivers today on a single, unified platform. We all know that regardless of the number of rolls of duct tape, the solutions will never be unified.
SuccessFactors isn’t the first Company to take the “duct tape” approach. SumTotal Software took the same route, which is understandable. After all, if you’re not going to be an innovator in this business, you have to be a buyer. SuccessFactors and SumTotal Software have chosen to be buyers. We continue to be innovators, creators and Company builders. That’s our culture. And that’s the approach we think is best for our customers. That’s why, at Saba, we’ve achieved our own growth through innovation, not consolidation, and why we offer a single, unified and organic platform, rather than a patchwork of so-called solutions.
So why did SuccessFactors and other competitors decide to get into the Learning market? We assume the Company could only take advantage of customers and prospects for a limited time before it caught up with them. SuccessFactors’ first foray into the Learning market was marred by sales to customers of a self-described inferior product. In response to a question regarding SuccessFactors’ experience in the Learning market, Lars Dalgaard, the Company’s CEO, states: “…we’ve sold it for two years – a worse product.” Apparently, the Company is not troubled by pushing poor solutions to customers. According to SuccessFactors regarding its ability to offer Learning Solutions, “there were definitely more and more deals where they had to come up with clever dances and Irish jigs, and they did it.”
Mr. Dalgaard referred to his newly purchased Plateau as the “enterprise Learning leader.” Really? With only 350 customers, $70 million of billings and multiple years of attempts to sell itself? Saba created the market 13 years ago, and we hold the lion’s share of it today. For the record, Saba has nearly five times as many customers, a track record of customer loyalty that is second to none and approximately double the revenue of Plateau.
Mr Dalgaard also pointed out that, “…a recent survey (showed) more companies than ever desire a single, unified suite…” We couldn’t agree more. But integrating companies is hard enough. Integrating software, with disparate interfaces and information architecture results in a kluge of solutions. That’s what makes a unified suite so valuable. And so difficult to achieve. After all, “imitation is the greatest form of flattery”.
Learning, growth and change are not events. They must be embedded as the best practices of a successful culture, whether that culture is the attribute of a community, a Company or a country. This is the way we have approached the design and development of our own solutions.
It’s why those solutions have been so successful, with nearly 20 million subscribers worldwide, and why Saba is consistently named the most trusted Company in our industry.
You see, it’s not that we don’t think a suite of products is a good idea. We do. But we happen to know the difference between an "integrated" solution and a unified solution. And you don’t get "unified" through acquisitions. You get just the opposite. Held together with a lot of duct tape.