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Kate Hanaghan

K2 Advisory

Research Manager

Read more about Kate Hanaghan

K2 Advisory research note: Is UK-based Fairsail a credible rival to SAP and Oracle?

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In the recent past, we’ve seen some significant moves in the HR applications space by SAP and Oracle, which have spent something like $5.3 billion between them on SuccessFactors and Taleo respectively.

However, while this is clearly very significant for the market, there are, of course, other suppliers that you should still consider.
 
At K2 Advisory, we work with a lot of mid-sized firms that provide such alternative offerings and recently, we caught up with Fairsail – a UK-headquartered HR software provider. It addresses the whole spectrum of HR requirements (from pre-hire to retire) using a cloud delivery model.
 
Now in terms of revenue, Fairsail is incredibly small versus SAP or Oracle, and relatively young (it was established four years ago). However, it has steadily been building a base of customers both in the UK and further afield, playing into the 2,000-5,000 employees space – so there is overlap with the Goliaths’ target market.

Fairsail claims that the ‘big boys’ “have created a mosaic of best of breed/functionality” – whereas it provides a “clean platform” – ie an entire end-to-end system that addresses every HR need. And, importantly, the vendor’s upfront implementation costs are likely to be highly competitive against some of the larger players.

 
Pushing hard
 
Current customers include Alfresco, Iris, United Allergy Services and Credorax. The company’s route into new accounts is to approach IT directors who are open to using cloud-based systems, which means that it is effectively pushing on an open door.
 
Its next step is to assist IT directors in making the business case to HR directors and usually the chief executive too. Fairsail’s management team takes a stereotypically British approach to business, which is in quite some contrast with the likes of Ellison and Benioff, for example! There’s no boasting or making digs at the competition.
 
The firm’s CEO, Nick Scott (I note that Scott also spent some time as “major accounts director at Oracle”!) explained to me that it spent its first 18 months “being very careful with everything we developed, including our implementation programme, in order to ensure we delivered what we said we would”.
 
He continued: “We are now beginning to push very hard as our confidence is high based on what we have achieved so far.”
 
This means, for example, that the supplier is extending its marketing capability and investment in the US. Growth expectations are high and, while Scott is ambitious to get into larger and larger accounts, ensuring high quality delivery and high levels of customer confidence are his first priority.
 
K2 Advisory’s assessment: Fairsail is an option worth considering, particularly if you are a mid-sized firm that is growing rapidly and that has multi-country requirements.
 
 
Kate Hanaghan is research manager for IT analyst house, K2 Advisory.
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Kate Hanaghan

Research Manager

Read more from Kate Hanaghan
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