I had an opportunity to review the latest in products and progress by Plateau, a provider of talent management suite of applications covering learning, performance, compensation, career and succession management. Plateau currently has over 10 million employees using their software and content that is part of their primary focus in rental-based software as a service cloud computing model. Plateau has been advancing their efforts with growth in bookings and high customer retention despite a troubling economic environment and timid behavior of HR executives to invest significantly into applications for their workforces.

Plateau recently had their annual conference where I had a chance to review their education and latest in product direction and customer presentations like Allianz, Boston Scientific, Diebold and Southern Nuclear.

The main focus by Plateau is on their Talent Management suite, which brings key advancements across their platform and applications in their latest release version 6.1 . To address the usability of the overall suite they have streamlined the user experience by providing an employee home page, navigation, performance indicators and to-do list. In addition, a much simpler means to navigate and link to other applications, information and services has really helped Plateau in growing their business, most importantly, for their customers. Plateau has also improved their performance review capabilities with an informative and workflow-based approach that enables simpler manager and employee collaboration for providing a method for scoring performance. The performance application is a critical link between learning and compensation to drive talent management processes like pay for performance.

Plateau provides guidance for organizations to easily assess overall performance and determine the current and planned progress in using their learning management capabilities. Plateau also streamlined the use of third-party content in what is called iContent, which can help your workforce improve through learning by developing subscription content as service approach. Of course, the improved access and usability of organizational and employee information is easily seen in their applications and essential to support generations of workers. Part of that information is for individuals and management to have access to integrated metrics and reporting using Plateau Analytics.

To address the need for workforces to collaborate and interact more routinely Plateau has a platform called Talent Gateway. This enterprise-focused social computing platform provides a place for workforces to collaborate and network within a trusted community environment with message boards and discussion groups along with ability to post blogs and use Wikis for education purposes. I recently made note of this at the industry conference called HR Technology (See: “HR Tech Brings New Products but HR Budgets May Limit Potential”). This pragmatic set of enterprise capabilities helps bring social collaboration and networking directly into the needs of organizations, unlike much of the industry conversation on Internet approaches with Facebook and Twitter. Plateau has been able to rapidly advance into this segment through the open source capabilities of Liferay, which has been used to build this platform. This set of capabilities is critical for organizations that are concerned that. If they do not provide an internal environment for business social engagement, they will find their workforces continue to spend more time in public social collaboration places like Facebook and LinkedIn during the workday.

The main challenge and opportunity for Plateau is to demonstrate the value of their integrated suite of applications and convince, not just HR and training professionals, but finance and operations management the value of adopting their approach. Plateau has made progress on this path and many of their existing customers have upgraded to multiple applications and new customers are adopting the suite, which indicates the strategic nature of the type of buyers who are purchasing in this environment. This desire to look at integrated suites of applications will grow with the economic challenges and workforce reductions settling down and more HR executives begin to look at what they can do in 2010 to be smarter and make their workforces more effective. Plateau is well poised to address this opportunity and help guide the industry to a new focus in making an entire workforce more effective and become the best talent possible.

Mark Smith also blogs at ventanaresearch.com/blog.