10 years ago, a highly customized recruitment software used to be a privilege that’s only available to the elite 1% of corporate firms in the western world.

You needed a million dollar budget to be able to afford something from SAP or Oracle to be able to plan and implement a customized recruitment software for your firm.

So the trick now is finding a modern software that still has the same level of customization as SAP or Oracle; without the cost of an arm and a leg.  It also needs to be flexible, have a self-service capability and needs to be intuitive too – that’s what you expect from a modern platform these days.

So the ultimate recruitment software product for HR, in my opinion, is one that has the following but not limited, of course, to be:

  1. Highly customizable
  2. Self Service
  3. Intuitive
  4. Modern
  5. Open
  6. Cloud-based
  7. Comes with a free-plan so clients can make sure it’s the right product
  8. Connected with multi-posting capabilities to job-boards and social sites

Now, why are we even discussing this?

Well the topic is, is the Applicant Tracking System dead?

I would say yes it is and here’s why!

In my opinion, all the current significant ATS players, do not meet the 8 criteria above and they will have serious issues meeting those criteria.

Problem # 1 – Cannibalizing a big chunk of their revenue

To start with, opening a genuine free tier, one where a client can extract a serious value from it and upgrade if and when they’re ready is almost impossible for players like Taleo and others. This is because they would have to cannibalize way too much of their own existing revenue to create a free tier.  Let alone that it’s a gigantic technological challenge for a system that’s built in the pre-cloud era.

Problem # 2 – Too much of a tech change

It’s hard enough for a product that’s built from the ground up in the Cloud era to evolve with changes in tech, let alone for a piece of software that was built 20 years ago.  Thus, it’s very hard for established software companies like SAP and Oracle to change and become a highly customizable modern platform with a self-service approach.

Problem # 3 – Migrating existing clients

How do you migrate all the existing clients from the legacy to the new platform when they’re so different?  This would be nothing but a nightmare! Ok, let’s just say that it’s possible from the tech point of view although it’s a huge task and would never be 100%. Now how about the user training? Are they going to like it? and How do you get them to adopt the new platform? It would take 300 years of delicate account management to move 10,000 clients from a legacy Applicant Tracking System to a modern platform.

Problem # 4 – Integration and openness

Those legacy Applicant Tracking System providers were built with hegemony in mind – they were built by companies whose strategy was based on the “Single supplier advantage” and so integration and playing nicely within the HR technology ecosystem is not their forte. Let’s be honest about it – probably 80% of their sales are made because Oracle or SAP is already there with HR, Payroll, ERP etc… and so they convince management with the theory that it will all work nicely together and you’ll only have one invoice from one supplier.


The future is a cloud and freemium based platform, that has the customization capabilities that SAP and Oracle have, but where users (as opposed to $2,000/day developers) can customize it as they need to; because an out of the box recruiting software works just fine!

Until next time!  Take care!

Anwar Khalil


Anwar Khalil