By John Sumser
Elliot Clark: The Publisher
Kenexa had plans to build a ‘Recruiting Factory’ fifteen years ago, in 1994. Although there is great debate among the progenitors about who invented the Recruitment Process Outsourcing business, Kenexa made a decent stab at the question. The Recruiting Factory applied industrial engineering, process management and division of labor to the recruiting problem.
Elliot Clark told me this story the other day as we were talking about the future of HR. He thinks there are real opportunities for external players who can do things that the internal folks can’t. A firm believer in the importance of measurement and validation, he believes the game is changing.
Elliot was the COO at Kenexa, where he worked for 15 years. Deeply immersed in the evolution of the industry, he left Kenexa to run another information business. This time it was about the industry.
Clark shapes a part of the industry through the publications in his stable at Crossing Media. The components include: HRO Today (for HR outsourcing and RPOs), HROEurope, FAO /component/option,com_jcalpro/Itemid,28/extmode,view/extid,59/”>cialis canadian pharmacy Today (for Accounting and Finance Outsourcing), CRO (for the Corporate Responsibility Officer) and Shared Expertise (a community for people who transform organizations). Crossing Media delivers information in a variety of formats, from events and training to publications, to people involved in various aspects of outsourcing.
The HR-Recruiting-Talent Development Industry extends far beyond most people’s very local view. The segment that delivers high volume outsourcing serves a sub market that is tony, elite and almost anti-influence. The senior leadership of HR in the Fortune 500 has its own playbook, conferences, coordinating groups and dynamics. The /component/option,com_jcalpro/Itemid,28/extmode,view/extid,59/”>cialis canadian pharmacy bucks are bigger, the implications larger and the behavior more scrutinized. This is the target market for much of Crossing Media’s output. It is completely under served by the infrastructure most of our readers are familiar with.
In the high end of the enterprise market, a $20 Million contract is small potatoes. Procurement policies require multiple bidders in a very formal RFP process. Deals take years. Things move slowly and deliberately. There are more than a few observers who notice that the Fortune 500 is occupied by a lot of companies that behave like banks.
While reputation matters in these high-altitude settings, you can’t really build it by being a conference speaker or an outspoken advocate. The best reputations are held by people who can make big things happen without rippling the water. Subtlety and nuance go a long way.
Much of Clark’s influence comes from the quantitative lists he puts together. Noting that “it’s easier to brag than explain”, Clark’s company gives awards like The RPO Baker’s Dozen, The Winner’s Circle and Performance Management Suite Leaders. The award lists always offer a disciplined methodology and quantitative criteria. The results often determine who’s on the bidders list for big procurements.
Since buyers rely on analysis from Crossing Media, the vendors are always on the lookout for advance copies of the lists and ways to influence the process. The first conversation we had with Clark was papered with references to hacker attacks as people tried to pry open the systems to see early versions of one list. The degree to which the competitors take it seriously is astonishing.
So, here’s another kind of influence. By describing the market and attempting to make it (at least a little rational), Elliot Clark creates his own sphere of influence. The keys to longevity in his business are good research and constant maintenance of credibility. Like many kinds of influence, the effect is powerful with in the niche under the influence and miniscule in the niche right next door. Influence always seems to have this sort of local feel.
John Sumser is the founder and CEO of TwoColorHat, a company specializing in market strategy for HR – Recruiting Vendors. You can keep up with his other stuff at johnsumser.com. Follow the rest of the Top 100 Influencers project.