Corporate executives have been trying for years to tear down the silos. Believe it or not, Google serves up more than one thousand hits for the term “unsiloing.” It is something most companies want to achieve. However, if a company cannot integrate its talent management functions, how can it hope to achieve full integration and standardization across business units?

The benefits of integrated talent management (ITM) include streamlined talent processes, cost savings, and improvements in collecting and sharing talent data. But that’s just the start. ITM leads to a more skilled workforce aligned with company strategy, and the right workforce is the key to boosting productivity.

Several software-as-a-service ITM suites have emerged to provide technological help in integrating talent functions and data. An ITM suite is a cloud-based solution that addresses the full spectrum of the talent management process, including recruiting, training, development, performance management, retention, and compensation.

More than a dozen worthy products have emerged to compete in this space, including ADP, Cornerstone OnDemand, Kenexa (acquired by IBM in 2012), Workday, Oracle Talent Cloud (which was Taleo before its acquisition by Oracle in 2012), Saba, SilkRoad, and SuccessFactors. These solutions provide the means to capture and crunch a staggering volume of talent data, and even more importantly, to centralize talent data so it can be shared across the corporation.

Despite the emergence of these technologies, many corporations have found talent integration difficult. ITM is often described as “Holy Grail” and an “elusive dream.” The problem is not the software; the problem is that software can only do so much. Here are three other essentials to achieve talent integration.

1. An integration mindset. Some people like their silos. Cooperation and collaboration do not always come easily for us humans. ITM suites provide a new wealth of data, but if leaders and managers are not sold on the value of integrating, all of the data in the world won’t make it happen.

Leaders must adopt an integration mindset. And the way to change minds is through meaningful conversation, which is the second essential for integrating talent management.

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2. Meaningful conversation. Cooperation and collaboration require conversations. Organizations must not only integrate talent data; they must also unite their leaders and team members. Leaders who are sharing data must connect with each other. Managers across an organization must have ongoing meaningful conversations about strategy and work.

The good news is that a new wave of business social networks have emerged to facilitate meaningful workplace conversations. Yammer, Saba, Work.com, Mango Apps, and 7Geese are among the many products that are making social networking the revolutionary new tool of the workplace. Skillrater facilitates real-time workplace communication on a social platform. Its one-to-five rating system for day-to-day tasks helps keep conversations aligned to strategy and goals. Additionally, Skillrater can work as a plug-in that complements any ITM suite.

Every company that wants a trained, aligned workforce and has invested in expensive ITM technology to get there should also invest in a business social platform to facilitate the meaningful conversations that will make or break a company’s efforts to integrate talent. On such a network, team members from across the hall and around the world can collaborate about work in real-time.

3. Return on investment (ROI). Finally, ROI is a huge issue in talent management. ITM promises big dividends but requires a major investment in technology, as well as the always difficult work of changing mindsets and processes. When a company introduces its first phase of ITM, it must be able to prove ROI, or else continuing integration efforts will hit a brick wall.

Proving ROI is another reason business social networks are invaluable. The social platform enables leaders and managers to communicate about victories and challenges of the integration process. The victories reinforce the value of the change effort. The challenges, when shared socially, present opportunities for leaders to work together to find solutions. By providing a platform for meaningful conversations, business social solutions create qualitative feedback that supports the ITM effort.