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HR vendors to watch in 2020

Analysts make note of some of the HR vendors to watch in 2020. Their recommendations cover a spectrum of HR needs and services. Many of the vendors are small and still niche.

There are hundreds of HR vendors and most never get attention. They provide reliable payroll, benefits and core HR services. Their pricing is competitive, their support responsive, and their users are generally happy. But analysts do have firms they think are especially interesting or doing something new.

Here, analysts give their take on what HR software vendors to watch in 2020. The list is by no means inclusive but does provide some insight as to where HR vendors are headed.

Josh Bersin, an independent HR analyst, cited Pymetrics Inc., a New York-based assessment tools firm. Their assessment is based on neurological research and the "true attributes of your mind," which includes strengths and weaknesses rather than skills, he said. The tool evaluates attributes such as risk-taking and pattern matching.

A strength of the Pymetrics system is that it's unbiased, Bersin said. It doesn't matter, in its evaluations, whether a job candidate went to college or has a doctorate from an Ivy League school. 

"Some companies are really starting to use it a lot for recruiting in roles where the college degree is a sort of a false signal," Bersin said. Clients include Workday, Accenture, LinkedIn and the Boston Consulting Group.

College degree not needed

College degrees may be becoming less important, especially in a tight labor market. Glassdoor Inc., recently assembled a list of companies that don't require a degree for top jobs, which included Google and Apple.

Our research shows that employees want coaching and mentoring relationships more than straight learning content, but employers often struggle with how to implement this.
Ben EubanksPrincipal analyst, Lighthouse Research & Advisory

Another firm that has Bersin's attention is Waggl Inc., an employee feedback platform based in Sausalito, Calif. He said the firm offers a "really innovative" employee tool that enables employers to quickly assemble a way to get employee opinions on topics. One of the things it does is allow for the crowdsourcing of reaction, so employees can vote on the response.

Ben Eubanks, principal analyst at Lighthouse Research & Advisory, cited Pilot Inc., an employee coaching platform based in Knoxville, Tenn.

"Pilot would be my clear pick here," Eubanks said. "Our research shows that employees want coaching and mentoring relationships more than straight learning content, but employers often struggle with how to implement this."

Eubanks said Pilot offers development coaching for employees to help them manage and improve their own performance.

Growing client list

Nucleus Research cited AllyO, an AI-powered virtual recruiting assistant startup in Palo Alto, Calif. Trevor White, an analyst at Nucleus, said some of its customers have "put some quantifiable numbers" around its deployments.

The firm was founded in 2015 and has assembled some "marquee customers," including FedEx, The Cheesecake Factory and Randstad. Its quickly developing client list "is why we think they will be taking off in 2020," White said. 

John Sumser, a principal analyst at HRExaminer, said his firm has assembled a list of a dozen companies in their 2020 watchlist. Among the "cream of the crop" is SwoopTalent in Oakland, Calif., a data-as-a-service product, which stores HR data in a private cloud that integrates with existing systems.

Another is Rotterdam, Netherlands-based KeenCorp B.V., which uses language analysis that can analyze employee emails and chats to measure engagement and "tension" in a workplace. It generates an index to tell how critical groups are doing.

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