SkillsTech Updates: Cornerstone, Guild, And My Book Irresistible

October 23, 2022 00:17:19
SkillsTech Updates: Cornerstone, Guild, And My Book Irresistible
The Josh Bersin Company
SkillsTech Updates: Cornerstone, Guild, And My Book Irresistible

Oct 23 2022 | 00:17:19

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Show Notes

This week I travelled to the Cornerstone and Guild user conferences, so I give you some in-depth perspectives these companies and your SkillsTech, talent marketplace, and career pathway strategy. Also, the print copy of Irresistible is available this coming week, so I explain why the book is so essential in our new "back to work" economy for the year ahead. Resources Cornerstone Makes A Play To Dominate The Skills Platform Market Career Pathways: An Innovation That Could Transform The Economy Irresistible: The Seven Secrets Of The World's Most Enduring, Employee-Focused Organizations
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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:12 Hey everyone. Today I took a trip into the past and went on a business trip to the Cornerstone User's Conference in the Guild Users Conference. So what I'm gonna talk about is what's going on in these two companies, and then a few other things to just think about as we come into the fall. Now, first about Cornerstone. Cornerstone is the largest learning management systems company in the world. There are about a billion dollar company. They have 7,000 customers. They have acquired Saba Sum, Total Halogen, Lu Mass, and a bunch of smaller companies, most recently EdCast. So I consider them to be the standard technology platform for enterprise end-to-end learning. Now, because the company is about 20 years old and has been in the market a long time, it's Legacy is as a traditional learning management and talent management system platform. And that's okay because a lot of companies use it and need it. Speaker 1 00:01:07 Most pharmaceutical companies use it. A lot of the consulting firms use it. And if you add the Saba and Cornerstone and Sum Total products together, most of the airlines, most regulatory industries, all need the Cornerstone platform to operationalize and manage their training, their customer education, their leadership development, and then many of their talent practices, whether it be performance management, succession management, and to some degree career development. But the company fell on semi-hard times, and until it went private two years ago, it was a relatively lackluster stock. It was trading at about uh, 2 billion, two and a half billion. I think at the time Market Cap. It was growing in the low teens, it was marginally profitable, and the company was having a hard time getting into the new spaces, the big new spaces, and learning, of course being, learning experience platforms, capability academies, skills tech, and just more dynamic learning delivery systems and content. Speaker 1 00:02:08 Well, all of that has completely changed. The company went private about a year and a half ago. New management team came in, very impressive team of people as well as quite a few people from Saba and the other companies that were acquired. They now have approximately 400 or more engineers. So they're by far the largest tech group in the learning space. And they introduced a very, very significant set of technologies that will play a big role in this new world of skills tech. I won't repeat everything that I wrote about in the article today, but just to be brief, all of the existing learning platforms are gonna remain. So if you're a Saba customer or Sum Total customer or a Cornerstone customer, you can keep that system. But the data from those systems is gonna go into a new people intelligence or talent intelligence platform. Speaker 1 00:02:55 That platform is built around Cluster and some technology from EdCast and others, and it will store data about the employees in all of these systems, including their job histories and inferred skills, but also the content. So what's unique about Cornerstone's talent intelligence database is not only is it a database of people and presumably the skills of those people, but the content. And as you know, the content industry in corporate training is a, oh, I don't know, 14, 15 billion industry in its all itself. And every company has their own content and it's constantly being created. So this big database, this big AI intelligent database can look at content, it can determine utilization, it can infer skills and activities, and that data might tell you something about a person's ambitions from their activity on the content. And of course, it can be used for other applications. They introduced, for example, the Opportunity Marketplace. Speaker 1 00:03:49 The opportunity marketplace from Cornerstone, while it's new, is probably gonna compete pretty well because not only does it have information about the jobs and opportunities and projects inside of the company and a lot of information about the employees, but as information about the content and the training. So if I go into the Opportunity marketplace at Cornerstone and I want a project or a developmental assignment or a new job, and I'm not prepared, there could easily be a compliance program or mandated training and certification that you need to go through in order to get that new opportunity. The other talent marketplaces have not solved that problem yet. They will. So it's a very attractive offering. They also introduced and relaunched the content studio, which is the platform that allows you to manage, analyze, and develop content, which is a big part of the learning industry as you know, something that Saba never really figured out how to do, nor did Sum total. Speaker 1 00:04:47 And so the content development industry has really been a niche market of small vendors that most companies use, but that can be done in the Cornerstone experience. And all that data is indexed and content is indexed and easier to manage. They also introduced, of course, the Learning Experience platform built on EdCast, which means it's easy to build portals and flow of work applications to find content and access content, and then a whole integration hub to integrate this new architecture with Microsoft Teams, Slack and other productivity tools. Now, the architecture, which is in my article today is pretty complicated, but that's essentially what it is. And so all of the folks out there that are looking for skills technology playing around with degree, or maybe looking at Eightfold, maybe looking at iSims or Beamery, there's probably gonna take a look at this. Let me give you my thoughts. Speaker 1 00:05:42 If you're looking at skills technology for recruiting, Cornerstone's not gonna be the right answer. It's not optimized for recruiting, it's not gonna compete with Eightfold or Beamery or one of those kinds of tools or this new company Seek Out. It's really good at matching candidates to jobs inside of your company and across your company. It's not gonna directly compete with Gloat, at least not for now. But if you're a big Cornerstone s Saba, or some total customer, and you've been using those platforms for content development skills, curriculum compliance for many years, this is a big value add. Now you have a layer on top of that, whether you have the talent management features or not. It can infer and manage a skills library around that content and around the individuals that have taken different courses. If you turn on the Workday skills cloud, you're not gonna get that. Speaker 1 00:06:29 If you turn on the skills cloud from Degreed, you're not gonna get that. So I think most Cornerstone customers are gonna look at this pretty seriously and consider it a candidate for the enterprise skills system of record for their company. It will not play the role of the true talent intelligence system for sourcing and recruiting, at least not yet. So it'll probably coexist with other technologies that do that. But for learning, if you're already embedded in one of these other platforms, I think it's a pretty good bet that you're gonna want to take a look at it. Now, it's all new technology, and one of the things about skills, as I talked about in the article, is it isn't really a tech problem, it's a data problem. So the current Cornerstone Skills database has about 55,000 skills in it, which is, you know, a nice number. Speaker 1 00:07:18 I'm not sure what it means. The real question is how fast will it accumulate new skills, How fast and how well will it index new forms of content? And how well will it infer skills from the population database you have in your current Cornerstone systems? Having worked extensively now with Eightfold, I know quite a bit about what eight Fold does to identify the skills in the people in the eight fold database. The eight fold database, by the way, has almost 2 billion people in it. So it's a completely different animal. And the eight fold database has a time series element, so we can look back in time and go back forward and see what's trending up and what's trending down. I know the cluster technology in Cornerstone was designed to do this, but it's relatively unproven, so we'll have to obviously try it out and you'll see what other customers learn from it. Speaker 1 00:08:06 Now, the second thing I wanna just say about Cornerstone is it's a really great Harvard business school business story. You know, I'm kind of a fan of just the business community and what it takes to run a business. And this is a company that really beat out all of its competitors. Virtually every LMS company couldn't compete, continued to grow, manage its employee base extremely well. Many, many of the original Cornerstone people are still there, has managed to take good care of its acquisitions and really listens to its customers. And that's not easy to do when you're a software company. Most software companies have a hard time managing technology, innovation, customer support, sales, marketing, and professional services all at once. But Cornerstone has done that really well. So it's a solid, well executing company. The new management team has really gotten their feet feet wet very, very fast. Speaker 1 00:08:56 They know what they're getting into. They spent a lot of time out there talking to large clients, and I think they're gonna be a major player in this new world of skills tech. Now, the second company I spent a couple days with is a fascinating company called Guild Education, or Guild. Guild is a company that I first met Rachel Carlson, the CEO a long time ago when they were founding it. And as she and I joked about, you know, I was pretty skeptical about it, but things have changed. The idea behind Guild was to match jobs to individuals primarily at the front line level where a lot of employees, and a lot of workers don't have college degrees, they're stuck in some sort of an hourly job and they can't get out. In the United States, as I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, only 23% of Americans have a bachelor's degree. Speaker 1 00:09:44 14% have an advanced degree. About 11% have an associate's degree, and the remainder have no degree. So a good percentage, a good 40 to 50% of the United States or more do not have a college degree. So they are very limited in their career opportunities, despite the fact that employers wanna hire people based on skills. And I don't think the credential problem of education has really gone away that much. So these are people that are working in large organizations. They might be in driving a truck, they might be in the manufacturing organization, they might be in the front office in a retail store or in a restaurant. And their real life is limited by their, they cannot grow in those companies yet. Most of us need people to grow. We need more managers, we need more IT people. We need more nurses in the healthcare industry. Speaker 1 00:10:32 We need more merchandising people, marketing people, technology people, it, security people, cyber people. I mean, we have lots and lots of jobs that are very hard to fill from the outside. You know, the unemployment rate is three and a half percent. It's 50 year low. So what Guild does is works with companies to develop using tuition reimbursement dollars, which are tax free to the employee, by the way, it's up to 52, 50 $5,250 or so. And they take that money and they build custom programs using university credentials and education to move people through that pipeline into better jobs. And we just did a big project with them and also with one of their competitors, Bright Horizons Edes to all talk about in a minute, and showed that these career pathways, and we call them pathways because these are job transitions from career A to career B or career C, really do work. Speaker 1 00:11:31 And what Guild does is not only take advantage of the tuition reimbursement to pay educators and develop credentials, but they have deep relationship with the education providers and they put these together into these custom pathways. So you can go from being a maybe cleaning person in a hospital to becoming a nurse. You can go from a retail store worker to becoming an IT person, to becoming a manager, to working in sales. And they really, really work. And it's really inspirational what they do. Guild is sort of the darling of this space, but there's a much bigger company in the market called Ed Assist by Bright Horizons and EDUs, which doesn't quite market itself as aggressively as Guild is also extremely good at this and has done this with a much larger customer base than Guild. Now, the reason the Guild Conference was so interesting to me is not only did I meet a lot of people and get my head wrapped around the space, but I really was inspired by the level of investment by large corporations in this market. Speaker 1 00:12:29 I met the CHRO of some very large companies, Walmart's a big customers customer of theirs, at and t, many other large corporations that have really relied on Guild and to some degree add assist as well to reenergize and reinvigorate their frontline workers with inspiration, growth and career opportunities that fill critical jobs inside of their companies. Now, the reason they are such important players is the typical learning department, Chief learning officer head of training doesn't have time to do this, with the exception of the healthcare industry, which I'll talk about in a minute. Most big companies, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, ibm, et cetera, they'll build curriculum for certain designated roles where there's a lot of upward mobility. But to move somebody who's not college educated through the various credentials they need to get an education to get a degree and then take a job in your company is a complex path. Speaker 1 00:13:29 And so Guild and EDUs together each put together the curriculum. They give people mentoring and coaching, they give them testing and assessment, and they validate the educational providers to make sure that they really deliver. And we don't get people stuck spending tuition reimbursement on these degree mills that don't result in any benefit at all. So these are really, really valuable companies that corporations believe in and companies are spending tens of millions of dollars on this and seeing very, very high roi. So this whole research that we've done on this area of career pathways is a significant change in the market and it will help to address the labor shortages that we have. The third thing I wanna talk briefly about is my book This coming week, the last week of October, we are going to be launching the print copy of the book. We have had almost 6,000 orders queued up, so it's a really exciting time for me and I wanna really encourage you to get your hands on it. Speaker 1 00:14:28 While it has taken me more than seven years to write it, and it's been edited and updated very re recently to deal with all the issues we face today, it is really, I believe, an exceptional look at the management practices, the HR strategies, and hundreds of stories on building what we call an irresistible organization. And the reason that I think it's an important book for those of you listening to the podcast is not only does it tell a lot of the stories that I've had a chance to learn through many, many of my experiences as an analyst, but it is really relevant to what's going on right this minute, shortage of workers, people being burned out, the need to move our organizations more quickly, the need to build more skills, the need to focus on culture and mission and purpose. It's all in there with stories and examples, and it is written in a sense, like a handbook not only is an interesting book to read, but the end of each chapter, there are a set of questions, a set of best practices that you can discuss with your team. Speaker 1 00:15:29 So it is really designed to be used as a team strategy guide as well as just an interesting read to learn how to be a better manager, better HR person, and how to better run your company. So stay tuned for more on that. And we will also be in Europe a couple weeks. I'm gonna be in Europe the last two weeks of November, so if you're in Europe, come to the Workday Rising Conference or we'll be in Amsterdam some for some cool stuff going on there. And we also are now starting to market our irresistible 2023 conference, which is June 20th through 22nd at the USC campus in Southern California last year. It's sold out within about 90 days. So stay tuned and look at our website if you're interested in that. Anyway, I think the Cornerstone and Guild information is pretty interesting. All of these are written about on my website and please contact me if you have any questions. Thank you.

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