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Protocol Enterprise

Hello and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: how SaaS companies are trying to adjust to the rapid changes in the talent market over the last few years, the Pentagon delays its cloud bake-off (again), and how sophisticated AI research could better predict the weather.

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The race for talent

Following the shift to remote work spurred by the pandemic and The Great Resignation, recruiting has turned into a race for talent, and HR software is trying to keep up.

Talent is more critical than ever. “Our customers will say to us, ‘If we can't hire, we're dead in the water as a business,’” said Oracle Senior Vice President Nagaraj Nadendla.

  • As companies scramble to find and recruit scarce talent, demand for software that can speed up the recruiting process is on the rise.
  • In the past ten months, recruiting startups Eightfold, SeekOut, Gem and SmartRecruiters have all hit unicorn status by promising to make the recruiting process more efficient.
  • Established players like LinkedIn and Workday are also investing in product features that can help recruiters, from providing candidate recommendations to reducing time to hire.
  • “Today if you miss an opportunity to speak with a candidate and move them along, then that candidate will very likely have another opportunity and offer out the door,” said Jobvite Senior Vice President Dwaine Maltais. “[The] first-mover advantage is so critical these days with as competitive of a job market.”

In a talent landscape where speed is paramount, cloud vendors like Jobvite and Oracle are using AI, machine learning and automation to help companies snag top candidates first.

  • HR departments recognize the challenges of recruiting, and they’re looking at new technologies that can speed up time to hire. “What we’re noticing in HR is that there's a desire to use what's called these more disruptive technologies: RPA or Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, blockchain VR, etc.,” said PwC partner Dan Staley.
  • But the realities of hefty implementation costs and difficult integration processes are leading HR departments to outsource most of the heavy lifting to cloud vendors. Cloud vendors like Jobvite and Oracle are already using digital assistants, chatbots and other technologies to do just that.
  • At Oracle, the company is using AI in its Taleo human-resources software to automatically winnow large funnels of candidates down to a short list, said Nadendla.
  • And at Jobvite, AI is being used to automatically send outreach messages to candidates in a company’s database. Other parts of the recruiting process, from scheduling interviews to searching candidate databases, are also being made more efficient via automation.

Being in the cloud is essential to HR organizations, but there are still challenges. Given the pace and complexity of today’s recruiting environment, being in the cloud is now a strategic imperative. “Those that are still non-cloud-based, I think they're feeling the pressure,” said Nadendla, because it's more difficult to broadcast opportunities or for candidates to find them.

  • But because HR departments were often first to the cloud inside their companies, many organizations might be using vendors that aren’t the right fit today given significant changes in the market for employees.
  • This leads many HR organizations to use multiple vendors that can be tricky to integrate and manage. “We found that 50% of organizations or HR organizations routinely make a habit of purchasing from multiple vendors,” said Staley, citing PwCs latest survey data.
  • And when it comes to recruiting, using multiple vendors can lead to more problems than solutions. “It's disconnected candidate experiences, it’s disconnected processes, not to mention you have [to have] unified data sets to be able to drive optimal outcomes for the organization,” explained Nadendla.

Like most SaaS industries, in the human capital management world, there’s a complicated web of partnerships and competitors amongst vendors.

  • At Jobvite, Maltais thinks the company has a leg up on both Oracle and Workday when it comes to recruiting because of its singular focus: the traditional argument against large vendors. “At the end of the day the big difference between a Jobvite and an Oracle, who's also a partner and a valued partner from that standpoint, is that we are 100% focused on talent acquisition,” he said.
  • At Oracle, Nadendla thinks the industry is shifting away from the explosion of vendors caused by the so-called “best-of-breed” enterprise software movement towards single vendors. That’s why he sees Oracle’s ability to provide cloud-based human capital management (HCM) from “hire to retire” as a competitive advantage.

Ultimately buyers, vendors and startups are all seeking anything that can give them an edge in today’s talent market.

  • It’s clear the pandemic changed the relationships between employees and management but it also clarified that talent is critical to enterprise success.
  • At every quarterly call you hear that “the most important asset in an organization is its people,” said Maltais. “So it's critical that companies have the right talent, when they need it, for the goals that they're trying to achieve.

— Aisha Counts (email | twitter)


Seeking to triple its employee base, Whisk, a fully remote team, sought diverse talent from a wide variety of regions through Upwork, a work marketplace that connects businesses with independent professionals and agencies around the globe.

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before

The Department of Defense is still not ready to pick a cloud vendor.

It will dole out about $9 billion in cloud infrastructure contracts in December, it announced Tuesday. Those contracts were supposed to go out in April, but if you’ve followed this utterly chaotic digital transformation journey over the years, there’s no way you could have expected any of it to happen on schedule.

“We’ve recognized that our schedule was maybe a little too ahead of what we thought, and that now we’re going to wrap up in the fall and we’re aiming to award in December,” said John Sherman, the Pentagon’s chief information officer, according to CNBC. Unlike the doomed winner-take-all JEDI contract, the Pentagon is willing to award portions of the new JWCC contract to four companies — AWS, Microsoft, Google and Oracle — but has not promised that all four vendors will actually win business.

The new schedule means that the DoD won’t actually deploy any of the new technology until well into 2023, according to NextGov. That means it will have been five years since the “final” request for proposals was issued to the cloud industry, in hopes of getting started in September 2018.

— Tom Krazit (email | twitter)

Should we talk about the weather

Weather forecasting has never been more sophisticated, but climate change all but assures that old weather models around the world will need to be updated as new patterns emerge. AI could be a valuable tool in helping save lives and property by analyzing that changing data faster than humans could alone, and researchers think they’ve discovered a breakthrough that could help future meteorologists get the forecast right.

ClimateAI worked with researchers at the University of Oxford to use generative adversarial networks “to correct for the biases that exist in current weather models,” it announced last week. Generative adversarial networks consist of two neural networks essentially slugging it out to see which one prevails, and the researchers looked back at old weather data, applied these networks to reach conclusions and compared that data against actual results.

“For example, rather than simply confirming a “40% chance of rain this week” for an entire region, the new model would empower users to easily answer more helpful questions like: What is the likelihood that it does vs. does not rain tomorrow? Where exactly will it rain? If it rains, will it drizzle all over, pour in one specific spot or pour in many places but drizzle in others?” the researchers said.

— Tom Krazit (email | twitter)

Around the enterprise

Micron revenue rose 26% compared to last year to $7.8 billion, exceeding Wall Street’s expectations and confirming that it’s a good time to be in the chip business, especially the memory chip business.

UPS will spend more money with Google Cloud Platformover the next few years as it integrates new RFID technology into its shipping operation and looks for more capacity.


Whisk isn’t alone in unlocking the global marketplace to find the right types of employees to support its business goals. More than three-quarters of U.S. companies have used remote freelancers, according to research from Upwork, and more than a quarter of businesses plan to go fully remote in the next five years.

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Thanks for reading — see you tomorrow!

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