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The Politics of Partnerships: Could Cornerstone Edge Change HR?

The new Cornerstone Edge solution that was announced at the Cornerstone OnDemand Converge event today was a “cool” technology according to attendees on twitter…it was also pretty groundbreaking for the HR Technology industry and likely changed the industry more than it meant to…IF it approaches the marketplace as initially presented.

In his short speech at the Cornerstone 2015 conference (#CSODConf15) Josh Bersin talked about Predictive Analytics and how slowly we have moved forward in our industry.  I couldn’t agree with his statement more – I first started hearing about concrete ideas and seeing some game changing predictive analytics technology back in 2012.   And saw the same coming up in 2013.   Then only heard about it in 2014. 

For the most part, the only one focused on building it was smaller, nimble start-ups that looked at things differently and desired a new, simple way of doing things…not just a checkbox on a list for an RFP.    Unfortunately, to provide value they needed to partner with larger TM and HRIS solutions to create a simplified experience for the consumer.

And, that is where politics (and money) come into play.

I work as an advisor to a number of vendors in the HR Technology space.  Some are established enterprise brands looking to have a new approach to the market or expand/enhance their product offerings in talent.   Some are newer players, past the point of start up that are making steady revenue and growing.   Some are true start-ups just closing their first round of funding.

All of them hate the way the partnerships/integrations system is currently set up – basically you buy access to say you are a partner then you pay for the clients and integrations on top of it.  It is a nice revenue stream.  It gets really pricey.  There are even 3rd party vendors that help streamline and make it easier to plug into a number of products, but it still comes with a hefty price tag.  I have actually seen more than one vendors that had to take VC money simply to partner with the larger ATS systems.

The challenge most innovation faces in our space is buying building technology partnerships — without blowing the capital they otherwise have dedicated to product improvement. 

And that is where the open API and Edge product (If it actually does what is seems to) will change the way this industry works.

Build your own apps

Imagine a world where you (or anyone in HR department) can develop an app on the fly that makes sense for your particular business challenges.  In seconds.  No IT guys, no developers – just you and your computer able to pump out an app that works seamlessly into your talent management suite and mobile experience in a matter of seconds.

For vendors, the new open API will allow you to build for shared clients a customized solution that you know will work for them and their exact needs.  Each one can be unique, or not.  It doesn’t really matter because finally, the choice is yours to make.

Marketplace:  The big change

If you are in HR, eventually, the new Cornerstone Edge marketplace will expose you to pre-built apps and solutions that you likely never knew existed.  I’m thinking it will end up being similar to what salesforce and other CRM solutions offer users.  Its simply a reminder that just because you haven’t heard about them before doesn’t mean they aren’t an amazing solution.  Check out the solutions that are already giving other companies a competitive advantage because they looked beyond the marketing hype and simply at what a product does.

For the industry overall – if this goes the direction it could go – it could create a truly open access type environment that will regulate the power of cash on what vendors become the hot new technologies and what doesn’t.    The core solutions have been evolving out of being the end all be all and turning into more of a hub for years – this validates what has been going on in business for years.

The acceleration of hr technology that the Edge could bring about will be far more than most people anticipate – likely even more than what Cornerstone Ondemand was thinking when building it.  A new marketplace, while reminiscent of what companies like Smart Recruiters have been doing for years,  hold a new level of acceptance and power in the space when rolled out by a powerhouse like CSOD. The concept of a marketplace isn’t new, but the PAAS approach and power that is being handed over and not under direct control is.  The challenge will be if some of the initial pricing options offered that allow access for some of the smaller vendors and start ups in the space will continue to be offered or the price point of integration and inclusion in the marketplace will eventually join the other larger vendors in the space and out price those most innovative, fast growing point solutions already being used by most hr departments.

If they don’t have huge price increases, I’m confident that thanks to the quantity and variety of the CSOD clients globally,  this could be a model followed by other vendors in the space and the stepping stone for a true openly competitive marketplace emerging opening the door to startups that many never imagined.

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Sarah Brennan

Sarah Brennan is a recognized HCM industry analyst and advisor focused on improving the impact of technology on people, business and the future of work.  Sarah Brennan has been named a top global influencer in HR Technology by more than 50 publications and shared her insights at speaking engagements around the world. As Chief Advisor at Accelir, she partners with HR Technology vendors and investors as an advisor, interim CxO role and on engagements focused on growth strategies, product roadmap & market education/evangelism. She also works with corporate teams enhancing talent strategies.

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1 Comments

  1. Ward Christman February 20, 2016

    CSOD either has a huge lead on the next wave of how HR Tech companies are going to work together in the future, or it’ll get mild traction then implode due to lack of momentum and adoption like so many marketplaces that are popping up now.

    Considering how long it took Salesforce to become a PaaS, if CSOD hangs in there long enough or puts in enough resources, it’s certainly well positioned to attract a lot of partners wanting more than a logo in a shopping mall and is not only something to watch, but something to get involved in.

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