IBM Teams with Lawson Software on Midmarket HR Management

IBM wants to help midmarket companies use software to manage their human resources needs at a time when retaining top performers is a critical business decision.

When it comes to human resources technology, IBM might not be the first company that springs to mind. However, IBM announced Feb. 3 a partnership with software and service solutions firm Lawson Software to bring human capital management consulting services to small to midsize businesses.
The talent and work force effectiveness solution for the midmarket is essentially IBM's human resource expertise wrapped around Lawson's Strategic Human Capital Management software suite, according to Tim Ringo, IBM's vice president and global leader of human capital management. Processes addressed by this service include payroll, benefits, recruiting, talent management, employee self-service and succession planning.
"I had a number of analysts come to me saying the midmarket space [100 to 5,000 employees] is being underserved in the human capital management space, in both software and services," Ringo said. "We took a look at who plays in this market, and we saw Lawson was the one grabbing market share with their HR platform-and we already had an IBM-wide relationship with them."
IBM's Mid-Market Workforce Effectiveness service offers the advantages of smart human resource management services, which previously have been available to enterprise-level companies, said Ringo. By harnessing years of experience gained from improving HR service delivery within large global enterprises, IBM can now offer the same expertise, but aimed at the midmarket.
"These [midmarket] companies have the same issues when managing their people, but no one is giving them an affordable system and set of services to implement it," he said. "But their needs are identical to those of the enterprise. They aren't necessarily as global, but the bottom line is they don't have an effective way to performance manage, train and deploy work forces, let alone recruit new people."
Ringo said those abilities are particularly critical in light of the global economic crisis. "They're going to need to make headcount reductions, and the forward-thinking companies this time want to make sure they have a grip on who their top performers are," he said. "Who are the people they should keep?" By implementing software that focuses on human capital management, midmarket companies can help avoid layoff situations in the future by correctly managing human assets. Ringo said midmarket companies that have focused on people as a differentiator are often financial outperformers relative to their competitors.
Ringo pointed out that many hard lessons were learned during the recession at the start of the decade. "Because the economy bounced back so quickly, a lot of small-business CEOs learned a painful lesson-people just panicked and got rid of good people, and they want to avoid that this time," he said. "There's a huge benefit in putting the highest-performing people in the most responsible positions."