08 May 2015

Jobvite Reawakens

Today's Jobvite Summit 2015 customer conference in San Francisco revealed that at least in terms of product development, the company has reawakened from a bewildering and detrimental slumber over the past few years. Live demos of the new homepage dashboard, the "candidate centric" profile format, and most importantly, the new data reports platform, proved that Jobvite is finally responding to its most vocal customers and impressively gearing up to once again fully compete in today's fast evolving recruitment technology market.

For many years, customers have shared feedback of feature wishlists and functional pain points, only to be told development for many such ideas would remain in the undetermined future. As Jobvite's market share and aspirations for larger and geographically disperse deals has grown, the pressure to address their products' functional gaps have become more pronounced and are now impossible to ignore.

While always facing a variety of competition, the recent emergence of spunky, VC funded, new startups, such as Greenhouse and Lever, who intentionally designed product functionality and marketing messages to target the specific concerns of disillusioned Jobvite customers, has provided healthy motivation for Jobvite to both catch up and renew timely innovation with its products.

Organizationally, Jobvite has also experienced some transition, with its own latest round of VC funding allowing Jobvite to recently beef up its own engineering team (and, accordingly, its in-house recruiting team), directly adding badly needed product development capacity. In addition, some changes in its senior management ranks has allowed for new and existing players to step up and briskly execute on long languishing initiatives.

For at least two years, Jobvite struggled with stamping out numerous bugs from its newer "blue" user interface overhaul, transitioning its application hosting to Amazon Web Services, constructing a complicated new analytics and reporting system based on a third party business intelligence tool, and fending off expectation-lowering competition from low-cost, feature-light system providers. All the while, frustrations from a distinct minority of its customer base were often left unresolved by a lack of product functionality development, customer success resolution, or both. Some of those customers have since switched to eagerly beckoning competitors, permanently lost from the Jobvite ecosystem. It really seemed that Jobvite was asleep at the wheel, or at least unable to step on the gas.

Had I observed no new changes in the company's trajectory with its product development from what seemed to be happening since around mid-2014, this blog post would likely be describing a vendor in the early stages of a tech startup death spiral.

However, what the Jobvite team accomplished at today's conference was to show its reinvigorated innovation feathers and a light at the end of what has been a long and dark tunnel for its customers. It must actually deliver to its customers the demo'd new features and do its best to gain strong user adoption. That would represent Jobvite finally catching up on its lost couple of years. And only then will it be in position, by building and shipping even greater product features, to retake its market leadership role in which its customers are once again truly delighted by their chosen provider of recruitment technology.

Mason Wong is the founding principal of ZWD Recruitment Management and Independent Jobvite Consulting.