Not long ago, remote work was a disruptive new phenomenon of the modern working world; today, it’s a standard component of nearly every industry, and the traditional office space has been transported to anywhere in the world with access to a laptop and an internet connection. With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the already trending remote work movement has accelerated sharply, subsequently altering the conversation around productivity best practices, team structures, workplace culture, and business models. Behind all of this is the robust and growing industry of online tools, technology, and infrastructure that powers the evolution of remote workforces across sectors.
A majority of the incumbents feature in the integrated HRM, payroll, and benefits as well as the integrated performance and engagement segments. This includes large players such as Workday, SAP, Paycom, and Paylocity. With a handful of startups in the growth stage, Microsoft is the only incumbent in the intranet segment. The pure play payroll and benefits segment is occupied by CloudPay and Clune Technology Group and mostly includes early-stage disruptors.
Many disruptors in the integrated HRM, payroll, and benefits segment are quite mature and, therefore, a large contingent is in the growth stage. The integrated performance and engagement segment features the largest group of seed-stage companies, as the use of cloud-based employee engagement and performance software has received increased attention since the Covid-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, the EOR/PEO segment has the smallest number of startups that are primarily in the growth stage offering contingent workforce management solutions.
The incumbent players in this space are well-established companies that have been providing human capital management (HCM) solutions for decades. All incumbents have a strong track record of establishing fully-fledged offerings. They also offer a diverse range of solutions, with a variety of customizable packages that cater to businesses of all sizes. All incumbents offer a cloud-based solution similar to those that up-and-coming startups offer.
The industry has seen consolidation, with a few large players making key acquisitions, both to solidify and diversify existing business segments as well as to support in-house solutions. Companies such as Automatic Data Processing (ADP), SAP, and Workday have made key acquisitions to strengthen their offerings, with a particular focus on workforce analytics, which has been identified as a new trend in HCM services. Workday has been particularly aggressive in its strategy, acquiring three companies that offer analytics in 2018.
Another focus has been on acquiring companies that cater to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Paychex, for instance, has deployed strong acquisition-driven strategies relative to other players in this area. Conversely, although mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity is relatively mute from the likes of Oracle, they have developed relevant, comprehensive in-house solutions over time. Similarly, Microsoft entered the enterprise intranet space with the launch of “Viva” developed in-house in 2021.