Fieldglass Acquisition Validates Contingent Workforce Management Industry

young workersIt’s been six weeks since the announcement came out that SAP would acquire Fieldglass. The news was exciting. The biggest of the big guys — which VMS providers have been painstakingly differentiating themselves from for over a decade — would be acquiring the market-leading VMS.

When I heard from Rob Brimm, Fieldglass EVP of Global Sales that day, I could hear the smile in his voice, earned by setting a lofty goal and attaining it. Indeed, founder and CEO Jai Shekhawat and the entire Fieldglass team deserve a hearty congratulations from all of us in the contingent workforce management (CWM) industry. Fieldglass’ financial success is a testament to the growing value of CWM as an industry and concept. Furthermore, Fieldglass has been the leading propellant of market growth, disproportionately contributing to the 21 percent growth in global nonemployee services spend under VMS management. Most important, however, is that Fieldglass won its leading market share with a high-integrity, competitive intensity that continues to stoke innovation across the industry.

But it’s big news to the industry as a whole and Brimm summed it for me in one word: validating. The acquisition by SAP serves as validation of the industry, validation of Fieldglass’ planned trajectory, and validation of the SaaS company they built and how they built it.

Going forward. We have been told it will be business as usual at Fieldglass, that there are no plans for immediate changes to leadership, staff or direction. While this should provide some comfort to those fearing disruption in an area they are happy to have finally stabilized, it is uncertain how long that status will remain.

Fieldglass is SAP’s third significant cloud-based acquisition covering e-procurement and online talent management. In the CWM world, we typically know SAP and Ariba (acquired by SAP for $4.3 billion in May 2012) as a purchase order system to punch-out to, or to map an approval hierarchy, or maintain cost center and location data. And just prior to acquiring Ariba, SAP bought SuccessFactors for $3.4 billion in December 2011.

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SAP’s battlefield maneuvering seems clear: to flesh out unified human capital management and procurement capabilities, end-to-end in the cloud, and marketing this comprehensive, seamless suite across a vast existing install-base. However beautifully that reads on paper, the monumental efforts required to truly unify these solutions in a new cloud-based offering, inclusive of sales channel reengineering and customer counseling, may make it too impractical to happen within the foreseeable future. So, in the end, will we say Fieldglass was merely part of a financial purchase or was it, indeed, operationally acquired and assimilated? Time will tell. Word on the street is that life at SuccessFactors is a lot like it was prior to being purchased.

MORE: Can your VMS support project services spend?

This post first appeared in Contingent Workforce Management 3.0, May 7, 2014.


Jason Ezratty

Jason Ezratty
Jason Ezratty is president of Brightfield Strategies. He can be reached at jezratty (at) brightfieldstrategies (dot) com.

Jason Ezratty

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