WorkDay Adds AI Matching to Recruiting With Acquisition of HiredScore
Workday announced its intent to acquire HireScore, an AI-based candidate-matching tool for recruitment. The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Workday has product gaps in recruiting, and this fills one. […]

Workday announced its intent to acquire HireScore, an AI-based candidate-matching tool for recruitment. The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Workday has product gaps in recruiting, and this fills one.

Disclosure: I have not been briefed by Workday or HiredScore recently. My perspective comes from the many conversations with customers in the market and WorkTech research on customer adoption and future spending/budget.

WorkDay Needed AI in its Recruiting Product

When Workday announced this deal, my reaction was positive. This deal makes sense from a product perspective. Workday has struggled to bring its Recruiting product up to par with what’s available in the industry. They’ve made good strides here. The sentiment has gone from “we’re forced to use it but don’t like it” to “if you are willing to spend the additional and ongoing money to customize it and have the internal resources, it’s okay,” and it’s trending in the right direction. Workday must be feeling pressure from the likes of Eightfold and other AI-driven products that they find their customers integrating around the Workday platform. While Workday has its own “AI story” to tell, in talent acquisition, Workday’s existing and targeted large enterprise customers expect to see roadmap here, not just vision.

Workday had to make an acquisition in this space. Workday isn’t known for a thriving ecosystem of partners but a limited one driven more by necessity than creating opportunities for customers. As much as WorkDay has messaged to the value of its partner marketplace, culturally, it really still operates with an “on-premise” mindset. They want you in the Workday interface and working with Workday tools. The recruitment tech vendor ecosystem still largely reports challenges getting traction with Workday on integrations and partnerships.

HiredScore Was A Good Choice

HiredScore is a “Wave 1” AI solution that has been in the market for over ten years. Their customer base overlaps Workday and is filled with some impressive logos. AI has been in the Work Tech market for a long time, and HiredScore was an innovator in AI-based matching. When other tech providers were shying away from the AI conversation due to its complexity and “black box” “-like existence, HiredScore, driven by Founder and CEO Athena Karp, took it head on. Karp and HiredScore were the only voices in our space talking about “ethical AI” for a long time. Karp may have single-handedly educated more talent acquisition leaders on AI, it’s opportunities and challenges than anyone else. This is particularly interesting when you factor in that she took no VC investment that we know of. She built a team that most in the industry rate as top-notch, and she has led them to a position where they’re known as a leader in candidate matching. HiredScore’s core value in matching external and internal talent while mitigating bias will serve the Workday platform well.

The Market Landscape Looks Much the Same Post Acquisition

While Kestenbaum, Bersin, and Lagunas think this deal shakes things up in HR technology, I just can’t quite get there. I think it’s a good deal from a product perspective, and Workday is acquiring a great team. But, it feels like more of a smart incremental improvement to Workday Recruiting than a transformative one.

AI and AI matching are features. These features exist to varying degrees in every HCM platform in the market with a Recruiting solution today. Now that HiredScore is assimilating to Workday, their “Talent Orchestration” vision will likely be stymied. Orchestration is a tech concept adopted by HiredScore to be applied to recruiting. Simply put, AI orchestration manages the AI transactions, systems, and components at a foundational level, optimizing the AI and computing resources used. As a model it depends on deep integrations across systems – and in fact is based on not being dependent on one product or in this case platform. For talent orchestration to deliver its full value, it would also require the same lack of dependency on a platform as the “interface or source of truth” and be more concerned with talent data and tech across the enterprise.

As with any acquisition, this creates an opportunity for other providers to fill the void left by the firm being acquired. In this case, a smaller void, but one with some very attractive logos of shops that might not want to hitch their wagon to Workday Recruiting. Workday will run its playbook to pause buying decisions while it delivers on integrating HiredScore into its platform. This will work for some but not for all.

The Real Market Shakeup is Five or More Years Away

The real market shakeup is just starting. The “platform” play that is going to rattle the industry is already underway. It’s in the shift to Work Tech. As we watch the industry shift from HR Tech to Work Tech, it comes along with a lack of dependency on an interface. Looking ahead to 2030 and beyond, customers will still be “using” 20 to 30 HR systems but will only be experiencing a few interfaces. And the interfaces experienced will vary by role. However the data leveraged by modern Work Tech is not based on the system of record, it will be based on meeting the user in the flow of work with the information or insights that they need. This shows up in one of Work Tech’s defining principles as being “designed without ego.” You can learn more about this shift and its six core tenets here on WorkTech.

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