Cornerstone for Salesforce: Optimizing CRM Investment

Since 2009, a small, independently operated but wholly owned subsidiary of Cornerstone OnDemand has been developing and delivering cloud-based LMS capabilities built natively on the platform (’s platform for building enterprise applications).  Operating under the name “CyberU”, the solution went live on the AppExchange in October 2010, and now claims more than 70 clients including Marketo, LinkedIn, Virgin America, Box, and which itself uses CyberU to deliver and track training for all internal and external users (the “extended enterprise”) globally.

Today, Cornerstone OnDemand announced the availability of “Cornerstone for Salesforce”, effectively rebranding CyberU and reinforcing its commitment to bringing learning and training directly into the business applications used by employees, partners and customers every day.

Cornerstone for Salesforce – a different focus

Where Cornerstone OnDemand has been focusing on enriching the capabilities and value proposition its talent suite (spanning the Recruiting Cloud, Learning Cloud, Performance Cloud and Extended Enterprise Cloud), the Cornerstone for Salesforce solution focuses on enriching the daily interactions taking place within the Salesforce applications with embedded training and development.

Bringing business intelligence, social and transactional support into enterprise business applications (like CRM, Financials, Manufacturing and others) reflects the trend toward more “purposeful applications”; a focus on “getting work done” more intuitively and effectively. The capabilities of Cornerstone for Salesforce reflect common learning management requirements, but the design intent is to have the LMS enable training and learning at the point where it is needed – i.e., while supporting a customer or while managing a sales opportunity – instead of having the LMS be “place you need to go for learning’’.

The Cornerstone for Salesforce capabilities include:

  • eLearning, including instructor-led and virtual learning support;
  • Certification and compliance for sales teams, employees, partners and customers;
  • Individual and team development planning;
  • Just-in-time training (training recommendations triggered from actions within the Salesforce application, such as changes in opportunity status, or when a new product is assigned to a sales or services team member);
  • Individual and manager dashboard reporting and analytics;
  • Social learning via integration with Salesforce Chatter;
  • Embedded performance development and training through integration with Salesforce;
  • A unified user experience and common reporting and analytics engine across the Salesforce platform; and
  • Immediate integration with thousands of Salesforce AppExchange partners including hundreds offering support for eCommerce, surveys, assessments, and quizzes.

cornerstone for salesforce
In addition to the capabilities mentioned above, consider also the extensibility of the Cornerstone platform. Unlike the packaged service offerings of yesterday’s legacy software (where custom development is repurposed to other clients through a pre-packaged consulting engagements), SaaS providers like Cornerstone can develop custom code for clients – or provide the development platform for clients’ own use – and enable other clients to access these innovations through a downloadable library of solution extensions. SaaS by its nature accelerates the pace of innovation; an extensible platform amplifies that acceleration even more.  Not every SaaS vendor takes this approach today, but Cornerstone has been supporting this for years. Cornerstone for Salesforce  empowers its partners and customers with an extensible LMS platform.


The launch of Cornerstone for Salesforce  is an important move for Cornerstone as more and more organizations look to the AppExchange and natively developed applications to extend their investment.

Today Cornerstone supports three distinct platform offerings:  Cornerstone OnDemand, Cornerstone for Salesforce, and CSB (formerly Sonar6).  Rather than being distractions, I expect each offering will inform the other with best practices and lessons learned.  (We’ve seen this already, as the innovative “helicopter review” from the CSB solution is making its way into the Cornerstone Performance Cloud; and the domain expertise from the Cornerstone Learning cloud heavily influenced initial Cornerstone for Salesforce capabilities).

The Cornerstone OnDemand suite and CSB solution will continue to be important options for buyers in the HCM marketplace.  For customers, a new option has emerged.

Cornerstone for Salesforce is a market-tested solution, with large clients (such as relying upon it today for learning and training across their extended enterprise.  Cornerstone for Salesforce should be on the shortlist of any Salesforce customer seeking intuitive, contextual learning and development support for its employees, partners and customers.


Gifts in the Cloud: Salesforce and Amazon Deliver on Employee Rewards

sfdc amazon is rolling out its new platform this week at Dreamforce 2012  (#DF12) in San Francisco.  As discussed earlier this month, Workday features prominently as a critical partnership in the offering, although it was nowhere to be seen in the “” product area of the Salesforce Campground on Tuesday evening (“Day 1 at the Dreamforce Expo).

However, what was visible on Tuesday was the new rewards platform in, where employees and managers are able to earn and award not just badges and points but  now also gift cards as part of the fulfillment component of an employee rewards program.  Here at Dreamforce, Salesforce will be announcing their partnership with Amazon to enable gift cards as a new component of their rewards platform.

Tech-enabled social recognition and performance solutions are on the rise, incorporating peer-to-peer recognition delivered in a social environment integrated with a rewards platform that increasingly includes  gift cards and other merchandise.  The latest strategies take traditional recognition programs focused on event-driven milestones and pre-determined rewards and merchandise levels and transform them into a real-time, contextual social and performance-based solution that taps into the unique motivators of individuals.

In a market that is estimated in size at 2% of company payroll, it is not surprising that Salesforce is expanding its social performance platform to play where companies like Achievers, Globoforce, O.C. Tanner, Rideau and many others have already staked their claim.  Utilizing a cloud provider like Amazon is a natural step for Salesforce, and I expect many similarly situated partners will be brought together into a comprehensive rewards network where companies can plug into and tailor solutions for the unique needs of their organizations and individual employees.

Getting Work Done with will be unveiling its HCM platform,, at Dreamforce in San Francisco later this month. What can we expect?

  • is a rebranding and redevelopment of Rypple. This comes directly from CEO Marc Benioff, who adds that the new version and future directions will be demonstrated at Dreamforce.
  • Rewards and recognition feature prominently in next-gen workforce applications. Following its December 2011 acquisition of Rypple, Salesforce acquired corporate perks management platform ChoicePass in June 2012. With messaging that will “let managers set organizational goals and recognize employees,” we can expect a broader approach to rewards and recognition in this next iteration. In fact, the new platform will highlight a trend that we at Constellation Research have been seeing in our research: the convergence of goal/task management, rewards and recognition, performance support and analytics. Combining these elements delivers contextual social engagement in the context of Getting Work Done  – the next evolution of talent management through systems of engagement
  • is a platform play – at least for now. Benioff recently had this to say with regard to the human resources space: “We’re working hard to integrate with [Workday] to deliver a full HR suite to our customers between’s, and Workday….And you’ll also see Workday’s integration with Chatter as well. We’re very excited about our initial focus here into HR.”

    Delivering a comprehensive HCM suite is time consuming, to say the least. The delivery of a social framework in support of  goals, feedback, recognition, collaboration and other core networking concepts is one thing; support of complex regulations that vary by locality/state/province/country, core employee recordkeeping, payroll, benefits and time keeping processes…these are something else entirely.  So it is no surprise to learn that Salesforce will focus on “rewards and recognition” in this first iteration and partner with Workday to bring its platform to market.

    Whether this will be a long term play or an interim step along each vendors’ development path (Salesforce’s development of the broader suite; Workday’s social enablement) has yet to be revealed. In the meantime, the combined offering will deliver end-to-end cloud based HCM with social enablement, and another blow to rivals Oracle and SAP.

With its years of experience in customer relationship management (CRM), coupled with its recent acquisitions of Buddy Media and Radian6 (forming the Salesforce Marketing Cloud),  I wonder if Salesforce will take the bold step and apply its expertise and lessons learned in CRM to future directions in “ERM” (employee relationship management).   The current positioning of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud is to be the “platform of choice for brands to listen, engage, gain insight, publish, advertise and measure” social marketing programs.  Imagine the possibilities if Salesforce applied these concepts to their talent technologies.

The Profile Wars (Part 1): What’s In Your Wallet?

During the March 2012 CloudForce event in San Francisco, announced its newly integrated services from Salesforce Rypple, delivering social goal, performance and feedback capabilities integrated with Salesforce Chatter and CRM just six weeks after completing the acquisition of Rypple.

personal identityIn the many write-ups on the announcement, I saw a heavy focus on the functional capabilities enabled by this new offering. Integrated into Salesforce, users can give “Thanks” (recognition, badges) to other users from within the applications (i.e., while reviewing customer service on an account, or from an account page or from sales leads). Custom badges can be awarded and viewed across the organization to recognize special achievement or praise, breaking down departmental silos and fostering employee engagement and alignment. And all of this activity is captured and visible within the Salesforce Chatter activity stream.

This is useful – and cool – stuff, don’t get me wrong.

But what I’m more excited about is what this means for the person profile: How the profile is now extended with formal and social data giving them a more complete view of the individual. has joined the growing pack of players vying for control of the person profile.

The Profile Wars are on.

I wrote on the profile implications of this  acquisition back in December when Salesforce first announced their intentions for Rypple:

Even more important is the anticipated advances of the person model. The goals, feedback, badges and other elements of social performance suite driven by the Rypple solutions become additional attributes of the employee profile. The acquisition will drive these additional attributes into the person profile, which in turn will drive additional value to other Salesforce applications….The opportunity for Salesforce to grow and leverage this extensive profile beyond the enterprise relationship should appear as something more than a blip on LinkedIn’s radar screen.

In that post, I gave a “heads up” to LinkedIn, because LinkedIn’s strategy to own the portable professional profile will now be met with new competition from Salesforce as they they grow their efforts in this area. LinkedIn today delivers an employee profile that rivals that of many HRIS systems in regard to understanding employee related data. Beyond capturing education data, awards, certificates and other data, the LinkedIn profile also captures the professional network of the individual, including references and feedback from that network.

Salesforce’s Mark Benioff has repeatedly stated his intention to own the “social profile’ of his users, but with their announcement to move into the Human Capital Management (HCM ) arena, it’s clear their reach – and the potential value-add – will be much broader. For Salesforce, this isn’t about just owning the “social profile” of the individual – it’s about owning the comprehensive profile (social, formal, explicit, implicit). As Salesforce builds out its HCM offering and in turn captures additional profile elements (including but certainly not limited to data such as job title, goal and  performance review data, compensation, skills and competencies), Salesforce’s emerging people profile will provide a much richer view into the talent of an organization.

Aspirations or Reality?

Many aspire to deliver this enriched profile, but few are actually delivering it today. In Part 2 of this post, I’ll highlight those that are making progress in this area, as well as well as explore the emerging “Holy Grail” of the profile: portability.

What do you think?

Does have a leg up on the competition with regard to creating and owning the employee profile?  Do you believe the profile can be ‘owned’ by a single platform vendor or will it ultimately be ‘derived’ through the convergence of many applications in the cloud?

Up Next:  The Profile Wars (Part 2):  Who’s Delivering the Portable, Social, Professional Profile?

Related links:

Salesforce Launches Rypple Integration, Services ( Rypple Beats SAP, Oracle HR Suites (

News Analysis: buys Rypple, signaling entrance into HCM Market for the Social Enterprise

A new competitor enters the Social, SaaS HCM marketplace

In a deal of undisclosed size, (NYSE: CRM) today announced its intentions to acquire social performance vendor Rypple and launch a new HCM division headed by John Wookey, executive vice president, advanced applications. The deal is expected to close by April 30, 2012.

Today, Rypple is positioned as a cloud-based social performance management company, enabling social recognition, coaching, feedback, performance support, and goals (it just released social goals 2.0 this week). It is one of several new entrants to the market in recent years, and one that is transforming traditional HR-centric processes into end-user focused productivity and engagement applications. This approach reflects the vision of Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of “The next generation of HCM is not just about a cloud delivery model,” says Benioff, “it’s about a fundamentally better way to recruit, manage and empower employees in a social world.”

In an exclusive briefing with John Wookey and Daniel Debow, co-CEO and co-founder of Rypple, Constellation Research, Inc. had the opportunity to discuss the transaction in more detail and its potential impacts on the industry. An initial analysis reveals:

  • looks to redefine HCM for the social enterprise. Long a pioneer in CRM for the social enterprise, Salesforce had proven its ability to serve the social enterprise and rethink processes around how companies engage with their customers. As he joined the organization, John Wookey looked to apply that same transformational thinking to the internally facing processes of an organization. His charter was to rethink the core management processes of a company from the standpoint of social networking, enabling a workforce that is focused on driving to the mission of the company. Rypple’s social performance suite, already delivering transformed workforce processes through social networking, was a natural fit to advance John’s charter. Rypple’s social performance management, re-launching as “Successforce”, and adjacent areas such as onboarding, team formation and engagement are the first priorities for the new Salesforce HCM offering. will expand its HCM focus into other areas where the infusion of social processes can transform the way work gets done and business value is created.

    The move from HR-centric to people-centric processes enabled through social technologies is gaining traction amongst many software vendors, including niche players such as Rypple, talent management suite vendors such as Cornerstone OnDemand and even ERP vendors such as SAP, Ultimate and Workday. Rypple’s pure cloud-based approach has positioned them to innovate quickly with social and mobile people processes that were designed from the start to be fun and amplify existing behaviors of collaboration and engagement. This acquisition does not address the core elements of HCM such as basic employee information management, payroll, benefits and rewards; these are not areas of immediate priority for Salesforce. While highly commoditized and readily outsourced, these are areas that competitors such as Workday and SAP address today and hence provide potential advantage to such players.
  • Rypple extends the value of’s existing core products. The acquisition enables Rypple social processes, including recognition, badges and other gamification concepts, to be brought into the platform. Salesforce Chatter is one of the first applications planned for augmentation by Rypple’s capabilities. Other products will likewise benefit from enhanced collaboration capabilities over time.

    Amongst vendors in the social performance management space, a commonly requested point of integration by their customers is to leverage the data already housed within Salesforce’s products such as Salesforce Sales Cloud or Salesforce Service Cloud. Rypple already had integration with Salesforce solutions under development, and the acquisition should further ensure delivery of streamlined, integrated solutions. For example, goals in the Rypple solution around marketing campaigns or customer initiatives should benefit from automated validation of the data in the related Salesforce systems, eliminating the need for duplicate data entry and possible error.
    Even more important is the anticipated advances of the person model. The goals, feedback, badges and other elements of social performance suite driven by the Rypple solutions become additional attributes of the employee profile. The acquisition will drive these additional attributes into the person profile, which in turn will drive additional value to other Salesforce applications. For example, Salesforce Chatter will become an even more powerful reputation management and “talent finder” tool once these additional profile elements become searchable and viewable attributes of an individual. The opportunity for Salesforce to grow and leverage this extensive profile beyond the enterprise relationship should appear as something more than a blip on LinkedIn’s radar screen.

What does this mean for current partners of and Rypple?

Current partnerships, such as the Workday/Salesforce partnership or Rypple/Jive for collaboration, are slated to continue uninterrupted, and in fact, Salesforce emphatically states the ongoing need for such partnerships. Not all customers will choose Salesforce Chatter, for example, and a partnership with Jive or others provides necessary integration support between Salesforce applications and external social collaboration tools. Obviously, the nature of these relationships will become more competitive after the close of the transaction, and changes should be expected despite the current positioning.

What does this mean for current customers?

In the immediate term, current Salesforce customers will benefit from advanced collaboration and an advanced person profile in their applications. Joint customers of Rypple and Salesforce will benefit from improved integration and data flows. It is expected that Daniel Debow and David Stein, the co-founders and co-CEOs of Rypple, will remain onboard and actively engaged with Wookey and team, as they continue to bring their innovation to bear on the next generation of socially enabled people processes as delivered through Successforce and other applications.

This deal also signals to the HR-buyer that social, cloud-based HCM is becoming mainstream. The adoption of social processes within the enterprise has been steadily growing over recent years, yet the adoption by HR departments has lagged. Rypple’s Debow grew its customer base by taking a page out of the playbook and sold directly to the Line of Business owners (heads of sales or services, for example) delivering a strong value proposition addressing specific business challenges. In recent months, Rypple has seen more and more HR-driven interest in their solutions, indicating that HR buyers are ready for these new people-centric approaches to traditional HCM processes. Now, as part of the larger Salesforce suite, these social HCM processes are positioned for more rapid acceptance in the enterprise.

What does this mean for HCM vendors?

Just as with the momentum of the SaaS-only Workday offering, and the recent SAP/SuccessFactors acquisition announcement, this deal is yet another validation of the social HCM marketplace delivered in the Cloud. Many HCM vendors have been aggressively incorporating social networking into their platforms (through development, acquisition or partnership), but are at various stages of maturity with regard to actual process transformation, Additionally, many have added public cloud delivery to their on-premise capability, for portions if not all of their HCM solutions. This move by Salesforce is a call to action for all strategic HCM vendors that people-centric, not HR-centric, processes are the future of work. The winners in this increasingly competitive market will be those vendors that can leverage social networking concepts to rethink traditional processes and enable new ways of working, and do so in the Cloud.

Cross-posted at Constellation Research, Inc.

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