SmartRecruiters began its existence as the brainchild of Jerome Ternynck. Long term industry players will recall that Jerome was the force behind Mr. Ted which, once sold to Stepstone, ultimately became the heart of Lumesse. As far as I know, he’s the first ATS founder to try to do it a second time.
For years, Jerome and his team labored in obscurity in a hard to find alley just south of Market St in the tech sector of San Francisco. The space was often used as a community hub with various grassroots networking events staged in the offices as a way of hardwiring the project into the community. It was four long years of research and development done in the shadow of Salesforce.com. The goal in those early days was to build a freemium business that was financed by cashflows from the marketplace.
It was solid grounding. Jerome is French. Mr. Ted was a French product. The global ATS market has its heart in the US. In order to do it a second time, Jerome needed to move to the US and acclimate. Things are different here and the nuances are subtle.
This week, SmartRecruiters held its second annual users’ conference in its new footing as an Enterprise level platform play. With 400 clients in the audience, the firm unveiled its expanded functionality. Guess what? They’ve redefined the state of the art in Recruiting at the Enterprise level.
They key is that they’ve built the ATS/CRM (Candidate Relationship Management) functionality in one database that serves the entire candidate lifecycle. Everywhere else you look, the two tools are separate entities. The CRM business evolved as an add-on to the recruiting process. None of the enterprise contenders can make this simple claim. As a result, records are incomplete, data isn’t transferred properly and things break a lot.
There’s an interesting set of undercurrents here.
The SmartRecruiters’ trajectory is going to open up the classic Best of Breed vs Suite conversation in a serious way. Recruiting solutions (or any HR silo for that matter) that come bundled as a part of a larger HR Suite rarely are functionally competitive with pure play single silo tools like SmartRecruiters. The rationale for buying a suite is often a question of pricing, data integration and implementation resources.
In our earlier research, we found that clients often purchased suite functionality as a way of minimizing risk. Testing out new ideas is something that requires careful shepherding and a slow path to commitment. That makes the suite look like a good bet.
And then, there are the bits and pieces that a best of breed solution offers that you simply can’t get from a business that isn’t focused clearly on a silo. Broad spectrum HR suites will be better at workforce analytics because of the data integration. They’ll never muster the subtleties of matching AI in the way that SmartRecruiters is embracing it.
While the Smartians (that’s what they call themselves, I swear) have indeed redefined excellence, the tool is better suited to bulk hiring than high end work currently. That’s smart and that’s where their current innovations will play the best. Over time, this will increasingly flesh out into a better overall recruiting tool for all purposes.
With 360 integrations, the SmartRecruiters marketplace looks like the largest in the space. If they can figure out how to untangle the potential here, SmartRecruiters could solve some of the data integration problems. Unfortunately, they are buying the Salesforce.com model lock, stock and barrel. APIs are open and not evolved as a part of the business development process. The Ultimate mode we reviewed last week is a far better approach.
On a final note, Rebecca Carr, who was at BranchOut and then Jobvite is the company’s VP of Product. She’s the kind of person that Silicon Valley is sometimes capable of producing…a focused product person who knows her stuff and understands how to evolve a development process. In a team of really powerful and polished enterprise players, she’s a standout.
In another ten years, people will be bitching about SmartRecruiters in the same way that they complain about Taleo today. That’s what happens when you figure out how to become the state of the art.