Interview of the week: Cornerstone OnDemand

15 avril 2010

As previously announced, here is the first of a weekly series of interviews dedicated to LMS vendors. This week, Cornerstone OnDemand.

Cornerstone is a specialist of the SaaS mode since its offers mainly lies on this model. For anyone of you wondering about the meaning of SaaS, please refer to the 3 articles of this blog dealing with the LMSs hosting.

I would like to thank Cornerstone and more particularly Matthieu DURIF, Commercial Manager, for accepting to take part in this interview.

Enjoy the reading…

Sébastien FRAYSSE (SF) – Could you give us a few trends about the evolution of the LMS market by the beginning of 2010 and, in particular, of the SaaS market?

Matthieu DURIF (MD) On a worldwide scale and, in particular, within US and UK, we can notice that the issue over the Saas/non-SaaS model is no longer raised. The major traditional actors, historically positioned on behind-the-firewall technologies, have all moved to the SaaS model and the ones, who made their decisions a little too late, are nowadays significantly lagging behind. This applies to both the LMS perimeter and to the other HR management matters (Performance, Succession, Enterprise Social Networking, Compensation, etc.).

Moreover, we can notice that more than 50% of our internationally orientated projects deal with integrated talent management which is no longer restricted to one or two pieces of our offer. The market is really taking into account the importance and the benefits that a unique tool can offer, including training, performance reviews, career, succession, etc.

In France as well, we noticed a real change in 2009. With nearly fifteen new customers in 2009, we can reach the conclusion that the market better apprehends the advantages of the SaaS model, even if there is still some mistaking with the traditional ASP models. The market also grasps the advantage resulting from a complete management approach (not only LMS/eLearning on the one hand and administrative management on the other hand). Nevertheless, we still need to work further to highlight the advantages and the necessity to integrate all this within a complete and integrated approach of training and talents management.

SF – Why did Cornerstone choose to focus on the SaaS market and not to cover traditional deployment models (behind-the-firewall)?

MD – This is fundamental to us, thus enabling to provide an exceptional level of complete service to our customers, which could not be expected with a classical deployment model. Here are a few key-characteristics:

  • An exceptional support with a debugging time-commitment (rather than the reply delay-commitment that a classical actor usually offers)
  • An unlimited scalability, our customers can instantaneously move from 100 to 100000 users
  • A continuous innovation with tens of new functionalities set on line and activated on request each quarter
  • The solution deployment within a few days or weeks at the latest, even in the the most complex organizations (no overloading test to carry out, limited constraints for users, easy integration with the existing systems, etc.).
  • A unique version, set at the disposal of all our customers at any time, enabling to guarantee a perfect mastership of the software code placed at the disposal of our customers and ensuring them at any time that they are provided with the latest software version

SF – Is the SaaS model your only differentiating criterion? Could you tell us what your assets are in terms of functionality, I mean the functions and capabilities that are the most important to your customers?

MD – Today, the SaaS model is one of the features of our offer. The analysts and our customers consider us to be, at the present time, functionally offering one of the richest solutions, including all the perspectives related to the integrated management of training and talents. By the way, our different success occurrences in 2009 (more than 50 new customers by the second half of 2009) mainly rely on our functional capacities, the final selection of a solution being scarcely based on the “SaaS” matter only. The assets of our offer lie in the capability to provide the same functional richness for all the parts of our product, while offering the opportunity to get an integrated solution (training, eLearning, assessments, skills, career, etc.).

Besides, our offer is the only one covering key-fields related to the integrated management of training and talents:

  • Real Web 2.0 collaborative platform
  • Management of blended programs including learning, assessments, career pathing
  • Extemely intuitive user interface, users- and managers-orientated
  • Configuration capability, directly set at the disposal of our customers and partners
  • Satisfaction level of our customers
  • Capability to offer a complete and international offer
  • Neutrality towards all the contents and skill-standards vendors

SF – How you deal with the diversity of your customers’ needs in terms of LMS configuration and customization?

MD – Configurability is at the core of our product leaders’ concerns. When a same software is used by several thousand users, it is fundamental that it could be configured at any levels. In such a case, we propose configuration features for all levels of application: processes, customized fields, reports, interfaces, etc.

SF – What do you answer to customers which have specific requests, not currently covered by your LMS? Is it a frequent situation?

MD – This tool has been designed by HR experts for more than 10 years. We are therefore able, at the present time, to provide thousands of functionalities, taken from the best worldwide practices.

As such, our tool enables to meet a very large majority of the needs expressed by ours customers. It is however essential to extract from these needs the real purpose of our customers, to be able to illustrate the way our functionalities can really meet their business goals while taking into account their constraints.

Moreover, as practices keep on evolving, we have set up extremely innovating community development processes, allowing our customers to take direct part in the functional evolutions. More than 90% of the new functionalities directly come from customers’ demands which are often set up only a few months after they have been expressed, thanks to our SaaS model.

SF – Could you give us some information about your next functional and commercial developments?

MD – Our offer, which is already very rich, will undeniably be led to get still richer. We plan, in particular, to keep on reinforcing our offer related to the enterprise networks management, which experiences a great success with our customers. We also plan to offer much more flexibility in our functionalities related to the management of compensations. Equally, we are to propose an off-line module to use the solution in a disconnected mode and propose still richer functionalities around the accrediting training processes and their management. Finally, we are going to activate by the end of June 2010 a complete module intended for our French customers, allowing the integrated and advanced management of all the regulatory issues associated to training (DIF or Individual Training Right, training plan and simulations, etc.).

SF – Thanks a lot Matthieu for this really enriching interview. Below are some useful links:

  • Cornerstone OnDemand website
  • Cornerstone OnDemand blog

While expecting next week interview, do not hesitate to ask any questions or leave any comments below …

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