Ellucian and SAP SuccessFactors: Why Not an Arranged Marriage for Higher Ed HCM?
If you saw this post that appeared on LinkedIn, February 20, 2018, you may have thought, “Wow, big news! A partnership between Ellucian and SAP SuccessFactors for the higher education market!”
However, there is more to know than what appears in this post. There was no press release and no initial comment from either company when questioned by Tambellini. We were wondering, “What do you get when you mix purple and blue? Maybe something vibrant!”
Interestingly, we went to our Analyst Relations contacts at Ellucian and SAP, and, after some initial confusion, we now see that all social media posts have been removed. It turns out that the announcement was NOT what it might have seemed.
What appeared at first to be an unlikely—but interesting—partnership, was actually an announcement by SAP to celebrate their agreement to implement SAP SuccessFactors solutions within Ellucian itself. Not to partner to jointly sell to the higher education community.
But, Tambellini is now thinking “what if?” Maybe a partnership to combine the Ellucian products with SAP SuccessFactors makes perfect sense. Ellucian customers desperately need a better HCM solution, and SAP SuccessFactors needs sales coverage in higher education. Ellucian customers have long complained that the Ellucian HR solutions lack critical functionality. (And apparently the Ellucian HR products are not appropriate for the vendor to use within their own operations in the spirit of “eating their own dogfood.”)
Workday is successfully converting some Ellucian customers. The Workday HCM suite is a primary consideration. Tambellini’s Education Institution Technology Profile Database® shows 38 Ellucian customers have selected Workday. Selection criteria includes functionality, and customers are also considering cost, along with the relationship they desire with the vendor.
Could an Ellucian partnership with SAP SuccessFactors solve customer problems? Tambellini thinks that for some customers, the answer would be yes.
SAP SuccessFactors is a cloud HCM solution suite comprised of HR/Payroll, Time and Attendance, Learning, Performance and Goals, Recruiting, and Planning and Analytics. Customers can purchase modules in any combination. Tambellini research finds SAP SuccessFactors modules in less than 25 U.S. institutions.
SAP SuccessFactors solutions are robust and feature-rich. SAP is a large, global corporation with a keen interest in growing its higher education business, especially in the U.S.
Tambellini clients have been asking about the long-term viability of Ellucian. In light of market activity in recent years, it might not be out of the question for a company like SAP to have an eye on acquisition of the giant Ellucian.
Tambellini closely monitors (and often serves as an expert advisor) in contemplated merger and acquisition activity in the higher education technology market. While this initial announcement might have been unintentional with misleading interpretation, the future is still a question mark for Ellucian. Tambellini continues to investigate potential moves for the former industry powerhouse.