Vendor Overviews



Summary: Workday expects its current 2015 fiscal year to close near $980 million globally, and it expects fiscal year 2016 to show revenue growth of “no more than 40 percent.” Though this represents a slower growth rate — just over half of what its previous reported growth has been — these are still impressive numbers for a company that launched in 2006.

Workday was founded by two executives who made PeopleSoft a juggernaut for HCM in the 1990s — and it shows. Eight years after its launch, Workday’s brand power is trending from strong to dominant, fueled by big investments in global marketing and field execution. Workday was consistently rated highest in message focus, as well as competitive strength and potential.

Workday’s solution extends from core HR into financial management, talent management, recruiting, and analytics. Its brand message and promise focus on large, global, and complex enterprises. The customers it places on its marquis follow suit.

Since its inception, Workday’s playbook has been focused on exploiting the fact that it was built in the cloud, for the cloud, taking advantage of the high cost of upgrading its competitors’ systems. Its messaging and execution in the field have been nearly flawless to date, and the financial analysts have rewarded Workday with strong ratings. Workday stresses simplicity, data integration across modules, adaptability, and scalability. It has enjoyed a rare distinction as an almost bulletproof brand in the market — somewhat akin to Apple under Steve Jobs. It’s also done a fantastic job of pushing its brand into national publications and sports marketing to get in front of the CXO audience. From a brand and message standpoint, it’s hard to find fault with Workday.

LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Customer Notes: For the large, complex enterprise, Workday has emerged as the cloud/SaaS leader. The Workday brand and message aligning HR with finance should intrigue the entire C-suite. As an HR leader evaluating enterprise-level core HR solutions, Workday should be on every list of vendors to evaluate, if it isn’t already. Workday is investing in the success of its financial product as well as the continued global success of its core HR platform.



Summary: Oracle expects next year’s Oracle Cloud global bookings to exceed $1 billion, according to chairman and CTO Larry Ellison. Mark Hurd, Oracle’s CEO, reports that its ERP Cloud revenue is growing by 140 percent. These numbers, and its history with HR solutions, underscore its position as one of the leaders in the HCM market. However, they also reflect the confusion around the brand.

Oracle launched Fusion HCM in 2011. The solutions are now referred to as Oracle Cloud HCM. The Oracle solutions are a combination of what they’ve developed organically and what has been acquired over the years. Oracle’s brand in the HCM market is a bit of a mashup of Oracle’s legacy B2B brand and its strategic HCM acquisitions of PeopleSoft and Taleo. How much of Oracle’s ERP Cloud revenue is from HCM is unclear.

This is clearly a pivotal time for the Oracle HCM brand. Oracle’s brand power ranks consistently dominant, while its message focus is largely trending negative. It’s viewed as a competitor in the space but doesn’t receive the highest ratings for competitive strength or potential. Some of this negativity is the power of the PeopleSoft brand and some market perception that the brand is dying. The negativity has been reinforced by the wholesale digestion of a strong brand with Taleo. Oracle has a strong brand but faces increasing competitive pressure from legacy and new vendors. This, in combination with customers who grew impatient as Oracle’s HR suite was taken from on-premise to a suite of overlapping products to a unified Fusion platform to Oracle Cloud has exacerbated the negative perception.

Oracle continues to reap the benefits of being a big brand in the space while moving its HCM products to a more agile, unified cloud-based platform. This takes time, and though the Oracle brand holds strong, the messages in the market are confusing to new and existing customers alike. New vendors, by comparison, are much more agile when it comes to addressing buyer demands for simplicity and integration across the platform.

LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Customer Notes: For the large, complex enterprise, Oracle is one of several legacy HCM vendors with a commitment to delivering value via the cloud. It’s made impressive progress on delivering against the Fusion HCM road map, and the future of Oracle Cloud is intriguing. Oracle will be competitive — especially because the cloud extends into CRM, ERP, Java, and the Oracle database.

Although Oracle’s brand message and promise may be confusing at times, the large enterprise HCM customer should continue to look at Oracle as a market leader. However, customers looking for an agile vendor to deliver quickly against market trends might focus on evaluating Oracle’s ability to deliver on “time to value.”



Summary: SAP’s cloud revenue is currently on a global run rate of $1.7 billion, according to its most recent earnings report. When SAP acquired SuccessFactors in 2012, it was largely to establish its commitment to and presence in cloud services. This put SAP’s HCM offerings at the tip of the sword as it aggressively took its brand to market in the cloud.

SAP/SuccessFactors’ HCM offering is focused on large, complex global enterprises. The solutions offer core HR, strong talent management functionality, multinational payroll, learning, collaboration, and analytics.

SAP has a strong global brand in the broader category of ERP. This has long been its strength when competing for large global enterprise customers. A customer desiring integration across the enterprise would lend the SAP brand an advantage. SAP’s move to the cloud via SuccessFactors has strengthened the potential for the SAP brand when we view it competitively in the context of current market trends.

SAP’s brand power rated strong/dominant, and its HCM message focus is trending positive. Given the depth of SAP’s offerings, this speaks well of its brand strategy in keeping the SuccessFactors brand alive and well. SAP rated high to very high in competitive strength and potential. SuccessFactors has always enjoyed one of the strongest brands in HR technology but has been forced to take a back seat to Workday’s brand glow, even though its awareness numbers are typically higher. SuccessFactors also suffered from some senior-level departures over the past year that put it in the position of needing to send a strong message to the market. Mike Ettling, the new president of the HR line of business, has demonstrated some much-needed stability and reinforced messages around stability and innovation.

LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Customer Notes: A large, complex global enterprise exploring the value of the cloud or considering upgrading an on-premise HCM solution should view SuccessFactors as an increasingly viable option. Combined with SAP, SuccessFactors has an unmatched global reach in the HCM category. For example, it’s able to offer payroll in 22 countries vs. two live and two in development for Workday. SuccessFactors has also demonstrated its ability to be nimble delivering against HCM and workforce trends in the cloud, via both acquisition and organic development.

SAP not only has the resources to execute, but it positions well against the trends in the market. Its strategic acquisition of Fieldglass, offering a unique position to help customers address the growing contingent workforce, is a good example.



Summary: ADP’s quarterly global revenues grew 9 percent to $2.6 billion in Q1 of fiscal year 2015. It states that this growth is largely based on subscription HCM products. This could mean that ADP is poised to be more of an HCM technology leader than most have given it credit.

ADP’s HCM technology and service offerings span the entire employee life cycle and are used by employers of all sizes. Its HCM technology is offered primarily via the cloud and spans analytics, payroll, core HR, recruiting, talent management, learning, benefits administration, compensation, and time and attendance.

ADP has a strong HCM brand based on its longtime hold as the leading payroll service provider. Brand power is going to be strong when you deliver payroll for 1 in 6 American workers. ADP has extended its services and technologies in all directions and in alignment with the employee life cycle.

ADP’s brand power rated dominant, while its HCM message focus is trending positive, leading to clear/compelling. Its competitive strength rated high due to its financial resources and its very large sales force. ADP’s competitive potential rating was even higher. The success of ADP going forward will depend on changing public perception of the company as “merely” a payroll provider and more of one as a global technology leader. Currently, its message isn’t always consistent in this regard.

LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Customer Notes: HCM technology customers interested in a balance of scalability, sustainability that comes with an established and powerful brand, and innovation in the form of depth of solutions with supporting services would do well to consider ADP. As a market leader in payroll, it hasn’t been known to blaze new trails, but its new commitment to design coupled with its customer focus means that customers don’t wait long for their HCM platform to address new trends.

ADP has been developing, acquiring, and integrating HCM technology since the inception of the market. It was addressing integration of its platform, and unifying the user experience long before it became the lightning rod for customers that it is today. Culturally, this has moved ADP into something of a renaissance as an innovator in the market, having invested in a New York City-based “innovation center” for new product development, along with spending a reported $1 billion a year for research and development. It’s also starting to do some very interesting things with regard to aggregate customer data and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). With big data and analytics contributing to the strategic workforce optimization trend, ADP has a lot of potential to offer customers in the way of data.



Summary: Ceridian’s website boasts $914 million in 2013 global revenue. 2014 revenues are not yet posted. Ceridian is privately held, thus financial data is not available as it is with its public competitors. Long the No. 2 payroll provider, Ceridian is increasingly viewed as a leading HCM technology provider since its strategic acquisition of Dayforce in 2012. Dayforce has now become its flagship product.

Ceridian focuses its HCM tech and services on employers with 500 to 50,000 employees; however, its largest customer has close to 200,000 employees. Its platform scales well from the SMB to the enterprise and includes core HR, workforce management, benefits administration, education, recruiting, time and attendance, wellness, and analytics. It has invested heavily in extending the product throughout the employee life cycle and taking it international.

A longtime strong brand in the midmarket, Ceridian has begun to shift its brand to the enterprise. Its shift to the Dayforce platform positions Ceridian as the only leading legacy HCM vendor that offers a new cloud-based solution unencumbered by legacy integration issues. Dayforce was designed to take advantage of one code base extended across the enterprise with strategic workforce optimization via real-time data analytics as its promise. It remains as such.

Ceridian’s brand power rated strong. Its competitive strength and potential rate high to very high, in combination with a message focus that is trending toward clear and compelling, reflects successful movement in the market being driven by its brand. The combination of strong work on the product and a focus on customer advocacy and success has begun to tell a much more positive story around a brand than hasn’t enjoyed a positive brand reputation in the recent past.

LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Customer Notes: HCM technology customers interested in a vendor with great potential but steeped in industry experience would find Ceridian Dayforce compelling. Ceridian has been early to market with regard to delivering against several HCM trends — providing linkages from HCM to engagement via wellness, for one example. Workforce optimization via real-time analytics is another.

Ceridian has invested very strategically in customer success. It doesn’t just stand alone in HCM here. Ceridian is a B2B case study in customer advocacy marketing. It supports long-term legacy customers on their original platform for an extended, open-ended time frame. It works with new customers to ensure delivery of value metrics, paying off on the promise of the cloud platform. In the age of a newly empowered B2B tech buyer, this may be most strategic investment it’s made, with returns not yet fully seen by means of revenue.

Ultimate Software

Ultimate Software

Summary: Ultimate Software finished 2013 with just over $410 million in revenues primarily in North America. As of its Q3 2014 earnings report, it looks like Ultimate is on track to exceed that number. Ultimate’s five-year average growth rate has been about 18 percent. Ultimate reports 2,700 customers in 150 countries. Founded in 1996, its brand squarely targets the large, midsize, and small enterprise segments.

Ultimate’s brand power rated strong. Its competitive strength and potential were both rated competitive. It received high ratings in message focus. Ultimate understands who its user is and messages well to its segment, messaging heavily around personalization and dedicated service. The company’s strong culture and reputation as a best place to work nationally has given lots of support to its “People First” message. Although the concept itself isn’t the most differentiated, the message’s alignment with the culture and the customer experience — combined with the consistency of the message over the past few years — have helped it achieve rapid growth.

LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Customer Notes: Ultimate’s UltiPro HCM product offers core HR, payroll, benefits administration, recruiting, talent management, analytics, and time and attendance functionality. The product is cloud-based. Recent product enhancements include a refresh of the UX and continued efforts in predictive analytics. Ultimate is a good fit for HCM technology customers looking for a strong service relationship with their vendor. Larger organizations looking for a vendor large enough to offer stability but small enough to allow a customer to impact the product road map would also benefit from working with a vendor like Ultimate.


Skillsoft Sumtotal

Summary: Skillsoft acquired SumTotal in August 2014. Both are private companies and their revenues are not public; however, reports prior to the Skillsoft acquisition listed SumTotal’s revenues near $250 million with more than 3,500 customers in 160 countries.

SumTotal’s HCM solutions are targeted to the SMB and enterprise segments. The offerings include core HR, workforce management, benefits administration, education, recruiting, talent management, time and attendance, scheduling, and learning and analytics. It also offers ElixHR®, a unique platform that unifies large enterprise HCM solutions into a single customer and user experience with rolled-up analytics.

SumTotal’s brand power ratings were engaging to strong. Its competitive strength was rated competitive, and its potential rating was high. Message focus ratings were mixed and reflected both trending negative and trending positive results — possibly the results of the unknown in this time frame after the acquisition. Because of the new company’s strong focus on learning, what will be its long-term commitment to its core HR products, such as time and attendance, payroll, and benefits administration?

LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Customer Notes: HCM technology customers with an emphasis on learning at the core of their HR strategy would be well served to consider SumTotal for their HCM technology stack. Skillsoft’s intentions with SumTotal will be clear in early calendar 2016 and will only strengthen SumTotal’s emphasis on learning.

Even before its acquisition by Skillsoft, SumTotal was one of the few HCM technology vendors able to put a strong learning offering at the heart of its core HR offerings as a driver of employee engagement. This is offered along with all of the traditional talent management and core HR features expected in the market. This, combined with its ElixHR platform, leverages existing HCM investments and makes SumTotal an innovative standout at the enterprise level, in part because its platform facilitates integration with other HR systems. Also, the platform gives it the ability to do some very unique things from a workforce analytics standpoint. SumTotal has also rallied from a perception in the marketplace as a laggard in customer success and made implementation and support an area of strength.


NetSuite TribeHR

Summary: NetSuite acquired TribeHR in calendar Q4 of 2013, and TribeHR continues to be billed as a social HR platform as a part of NetSuite’s offerings. Although TribeHR’s revenues are not listed separately, NetSuite closed fiscal year 2013 at $414 million and closed Q3 of 2014 with just under $400 million in revenue.

NetSuite is viewed as a cloud-computing platform for the SMB primarily in North America. TribeHR was growing quickly and emerging as a competitive force in the core HR market before the NetSuite acquisition. TribeHR could have been characterized as “quietly emerging.” Post-acquisition, the context for TribeHR has changed, but not much else.

NetSuite TribeHR’s brand is viewed as engaging. The acquisition may have helped the view of TribeHR in the NetSuite installed base, but has done little to help how the brand is viewed outside of it. Its message focus was trending negative. More than 12 months after the acquisition, there is no clear message reflecting the value to HR customers of having TribeHR connected to NetSuite. NetSuite is viewed as offering competitive strength and potential. However, the market is still looking for NetSuite and TribeHR to tell it what value is offered by having TribeHR as part of the NetSuite platform.

LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Customer Notes: NetSuite is viewed as an innovator in cloud computing for small to medium-size businesses. It’s often compared with Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP when looking at ERP for midsize firms. As the brand data reflects, there are many questions regarding the direction of NetSuite and TribeHR. For medium-size HCM customers, especially those already using NetSuite in some part of their business, TribeHR is a brand worth considering.



Summary: Kronos, although privately held, reported recognized global revenue of $1.04 billion in November 2014. Kronos’ investors include four private equity firms: Hellman & Friedman, JMI Equity, Blackstone, and GIC.

Kronos’ HCM solutions are targeted to both the SMB and enterprise segments. Kronos has a history as a time-and-attendance provider. Its HCM offerings have grown from there through development and acquisition to include core HR, workforce management, benefits administration, education, recruiting, talent management, time and attendance, scheduling, and analytics.

Kronos’ brand power ratings were engaging to strong, largely as a result of its longtime market position providing time-and-attendance products and services. Competitive strength and potential were rated competitive, again driven largely by its financial position and field resources in support of its time-and-attendance offerings, albeit low for $1 billion dollar firm. Message focus ratings reflected both muddled and trending negative results.

Kronos’ history and performance as a time-and-attendance vendor are a blessing financially, but it also creates a real messaging and go-to-market challenge. Its message is largely driven by time and attendance, and dedicates a lot of real estate substantiating the financial results driven by its cloud products. However, its core messaging comes back to time and attendance repeatedly. This can be confusing and leaves the customer with the impression that Kronos is a time-and-attendance company trying to be a cloud HR technology firm.

LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Customer Notes: The brand data suggests Kronos is a vendor aligned with customers interested in adopting mainstream technology later in the innovation cycle. HCM technology customers in industries with an emphasis on time and attendance would be well served to consider Kronos, especially if they’re open to both cloud-based and on-premise solutions.



Summary: Namely is a new HCM technology firm that was founded in 2012. Since that time, it has attracted a significant customer growth rate and substantial early funding. In November 2014, venture capital firm Matrix Partners led a $12 million round of funding that brought the total venture capital investment in Namely to $22 million. At that time, Fortune reported that Namely had 150 customers with 22,000 employees under management with a very high user engagement rate and a staggering 1600% growth rate over just the previous eight months.

Namely focuses squarely on customers in the SMB, primarily located in North America, with an emphasis on companies in growth mode. It does well with employers starting from 50 employees through 5,000. Its offerings include core HR, payroll, benefits administration, performance management, and employee engagement, with an emphasis on its open API and usability as differentiators.

Namely’s brand power ratings were nascent. This is expected for a two-year-old startup having only recently received most of its funding. However, that’s where the startup brand comparisons end. Its competitive strength was rated as competitive. Its competitive potential rating was high to very high, based largely on Namely’s traction to date. Message-focus ratings were trending positive. The combination of its competitive potential and message focus ratings points to an understanding of the SMB customer in growth mode and Namely’s delivery of consumerized B2B software to the SMB.

LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Customer Notes: HCM technology customers with 50 to 5,000 employees, interested in a vendor focused on delivering an HCM solution that promises ease of adoption and use in a full-featured HCM platform should add Namely to their list of vendors to consider. Namely is an example of an emerging vendor contributing to the disruption of HCM in the SMB segment by delivering a fresh, updated approach to solving a longtime business problem.



Summary: Zenefits has been called one of this year’s hottest Silicon Valley startups by The New York Times, Forbes, Fortune, and Business Insider, among others. In 2014, Zenefits raised a reported $68 million in venture capital in two rounds of funding. The larger of the rounds was led by Andreessen Horowitz and Institutional Venture Partners. In September, The New York Times reported that Zenefits has 2,000 customers with a combined 50,000 employees under management.

Zenefits’ solutions are targeted to the smaller end of the SMB market in North America — small employers with fewer than 100 employees where the investment in benefits and core HR services trumps any investment in core HR technology infrastructure. Its offerings include core HR, benefits administration, time and attendance, onboarding, payroll, and tax services. Zenefits’ model is unique, offering HCM technology for free and taking its cut from insurance broker commission fees. It’s really less of an HCM technology play than a services play that uses software to disrupt the established benefits broker business.

However, disrupting a long-established market can come with some bumps along the way. Zenefits can learn a few lessons from Uber’s experience with the taxi industry. Don’t expect benefits brokers to go down without a fight. There’s too much money at stake. And Zenefits has already run into trouble with its business model in the state of Utah. Although there’s a brand glow around Zenefits today, that glow can be fleeting — as Uber also recently found out.

Zenefits’ brand power ratings were emerging. It’s generating a large amount of press and industry buzz as one of the year’s hottest startups with its disruptive model. Its message focus rating was trending positive to compelling. Its competitive strength was rated as competitive and its potential rating was very high.

LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Customer Notes: Small businesses will find the Zenefits value proposition compelling. For the cost of their existing investment in benefits they receive access to HR technology and additional services that alleviate administrative burdens. Zenefits also offers employees self-service options starting with onboarding and then throughout the term of their employment.

It will be interesting to watch Zenefits as it continues to grow. Entrepreneurs entering the space from outside of the HR market often underestimate the service and customer success aspects of HR software. There’s a lot of ongoing relationship management involved in working on HR issues with businesses outside of Silicon Valley and on Main Street. Investment in services and customer success can be a challenge for vendors working with Silicon Valley venture capital sometimes failing to offer Main Street sensibilities.



Summary: Sage is a U.K.-based £1.3 billion global tech firm. Sage provides a suite of solutions for businesses with up to 500 employees that spans ERP, accounting, HRMS, CRM, asset management, real estate, and time tracking. Sage’s HCM solutions target the SMB, specifically employers with up to 500 FTEs. The offerings include core HR, payroll, benefits administration, time and attendance, recruiting, talent management, and reporting.

Sage’s brand power ratings were emerging to engaging, reflective of the fact that 68 percent of Sage’s revenue is from outside of the Americas. Its message focus ratings were muddled to trending negative, which reflects the challenge related to Sage HRMS fitting within a suite of products versus HR being the firm’s primary focus. Competitive strength and potential were both rated low to competitive. The overall ratings reflect Sage’s challenges in the U.S. market. Even if North America isn’t a major market focus, Sage needs to build awareness in this market to build its global brand.

LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Customer Notes: Small businesses in the U.S. and around the world that are looking at moving their operations to the cloud will hear more from Sage in the near future. Although its current brandscape ratings are low for such a large firm, Sage is a $2 billion business in transition to the cloud. The company is supporting this transition with new pricing models and strategic acquisitions. Although Sage will still have brand and messaging challenges to overcome in a hyper-competitive U.S. HCM technology market, we expect its competitive ratings to improve, given its resources.



Summary: BambooHR is a privately held HCM technology company that reports to have “hundreds of customers.” It was founded in 2008. In February of this year, Inc. Magazine reported the company was on track to triple revenues to $10 million primarily in North America.

BambooHR’s solutions are targeted to the SMB. BambooHR has taken a core HR system with benefits administration, reporting, and an open API, and has integrated solutions spanning payroll, benefits administration, recruiting, talent management, performance management, and document management.

BambooHR’s brand power ratings were nascent. Its messaging focus ratings were trending positive. Both its competitive strength and potential ratings were low. BambooHR has a good understanding of its target customer — the small, growing business that is moving from spreadsheets to a more robust solution, and it communicates that message to that customer well. However, its low brand and competitive ratings are a direct reflection of its conservative investment in marketing.

LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Customer Notes: Small employers interested in a core HR offering with the technical capacity to manage API integrations will view BambooHR as a flexible HRMS.

BambooHR will continue to message well to its target customer and carve out a growing niche in the large SMB segment. However, as noted in this report, several well-capitalized competitors with more broad solution sets are focusing on their target segment as well, which will create some interesting pressure on BambooHR’s ability to continue its growth.



Summary: Infor is a U.S.-based $2.8 billion global tech firm. Its solutions span ERP, CRM, asset management, financials, supply chain management, and HCM. Infor does not report revenue by product line. Infor has made several acquisitions to strengthen its HCM offering over the years, the most notable of which was Lawson HCM in 2011. Prior to that acquisition, Lawson reported annual revenues near $750 million. Infor reports that 57 percent of its total revenue is generated in the Americas.

Infor has historically focused its products on the middle market and “small enterprise” companies. Although there may be exceptions, its customer list reflects a focus on employers with up to 10,000 employees. Infor’s HCM offerings include core HR, talent management, workforce management, learning management, and analytics. Infor offers its HCM products in suites that are tailored by industry.

Infor’s brand power rating was engaging. Its message focus ratings were split between trending negative and muddled. Infor has built its HCM market presence by acquisition since 2007, and, perhaps not surprisingly, its brand and messaging ratings reflect an expected confusion over who exactly Infor is. This is combined with HCM being a piece — albeit a large one — of its business, but not its core message. Infor’s competitive strength and potential ratings were both low. We would expect its strength ratings to be higher based on resources alone. However, its potential ratings reflect the result of acquiring innovation vs. driving it. Infor looks to be keeping up with the market rather than leading it.

LOW HIGH Brand Power Message Focus Competitive Strength Competitive Potential

Customer Notes: HCM customers who feel they have highly nuanced HR practices or processes based on their industry may find Infor’s specialized HCM suites compelling. However, as with any platform vendor that has acquired its way into the market, integration among modules should be looked at closely. Although Infor’s brandscape ratings are not high, given its available resources, it has an opportunity to move its ratings in a positive direction with some customer focus in 2015.

Other Companies to Consider

The research for this report included data and briefings from myriad vendors that do not appear in our vendor overviews. These firms were not included due to a lack of presence in the brandscape metrics or a lack of a complete HCM technology solution as defined in this report. These vendors do, however, reflect further validation of the trends we see in the HCM market.

Paychex ( Paychex’s revenue was about $2.5 billion in fiscal year 2014 and is viewed largely as a payroll service for the SMB in North America. It has, however, started to position some technology offerings in core HR administration, benefits administration, recruiting, and onboarding that extend its services. As we see HCM technology — including payroll — continue to drive substantial innovation, we expect to see vendors like Paychex move their brand more toward HCM.

Fairsail ( Fairsail is an emerging U.K.-based HR technology startup focused on the SMB that offers a full HRMS and several components focused on talent management. Although the company has yet to round out a total HCM offering, it’s positioning itself as such and represents another notable wrinkle in the HR technology landscape — it has been developed on the Force platform. Salesforce has been widely adopted by the SMB for its CRM, marketing, and service offerings. Fairsail, having developed its HRMS on the infrastructure, has a theoretical advantage with any SMB in the Salesforce install base. The emergence of B2B applications developed on the Force platform has offered big promise for HR technology since its inception. We haven’t seen significant marketing advantage for any HR technology developed on the Force platform yet; however, this offers an interesting competitive stand for an emerging SMB vendor competing in a space with several vendors extending into ERP, CRM, etc.

Kin HR ( Kin HR is a Chicago-based HR technology startup focused on delivering core HR technology to the SMB primarily in North America. Kin HR is representative of a vast number of local and regional vendors that solve a business problem in HR administration for their customers through software with a simple, consumerized interface. Kin HR was spun off from a successful IT consulting firm that saw success in providing this solution to its customers. Unlike the Silicon Valley startups we see so much of, companies like Kin HR are not “built to flip” with venture capital investment as a part of their business plan. Kin HR represents a large number of firms globally appearing in our brandscapes that may or may not take funding, but will compete with vendors operating in the geographies where they exist.

Compass HRM ( Compass HRM is a Tampa-based HCM technology firm that got its start solving business problems outside of the HR technology market ecosystem. Compass HRM includes core HR, payroll, time and attendance, benefits administration, talent management, and more for the SMB. Like Kin HR, Compass HRM represents what today looks like a local or regional supplier, but with some funding, it could become a dark-horse entry in the SMB HCM brandscape.

Benepay Technologies ( Benepay Technologies is the result of a merger between Lyceum, an HCM tech solution for the SMB and BenePay, a payroll service company that worked with companies of all sizes. Benepay represents HCM vendors that are providing both technology and services to a smaller slice of the SMB market. Benepay views platform adoption as the future for that segment.

cfactor Works ( This Canadian company focuses on developing cloud-based HCM technology, with engagement at its core. Its Vibe HCM platform was developed from day one with a focus on user experience and engagement. The result is what cfactor refers to as a system of engagement. With a promise of results in user, employee, and candidate engagement that are off the charts in current HCM installations, and supported by rich analytics, cfactor Works has been experiencing considerable customer traction in the market with employers of all sizes. Given the lightning rod that engagement has become for HR, we expect cfactor Works to emerge on the 2016 HCM Brandscape report with an impressive initial showing.

Zuman ( Based in Pleasanton, Calif., and led by the founding executive team from TriNet, Zuman targets companies with more than 50 employees. Its platform bundles payroll, benefits, and talent management; features a slick mobile-friendly UI; and includes concierge-style service. Zuman calls it “people operations,” which should play well with fast-growth companies that need to bring effective HR services online quickly and without hassle. Needless to say, Zuman is positioning as a premium solution. Because of the experience of this team, it could quickly give Zenefits and PEOs a run for their money in the near term.

PeopleStrategy ( PeopleStrategy is an Atlanta-based company that has spent years focusing on its product and customers. The result is a full-featured cloud-based HCM platform that offers the configurability and flexibility seen in most enterprise systems, but with ease of use and design that make the product well suited for its target customer: small and medium-size businesses. Its offering covers core HR, talent acquisition, payroll, workforce management, benefits administration, and talent management. Not strictly a regional player, PeopleStrategy has offices across the country, including operations in Boston and development in Salt Lake City. It’s one of many vendors growing in a controlled manner, focused on a profit-based strategy. Investing more aggressively in a market-share strategy or bringing in funding to do so could put the company in a high-potential position on the brandscape.