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: Further HCM Industry Consolidation as Oracle buys Talent Management Vendor Taleo for $1.9B

Following moves by rivals SAP and, Oracle expands its offering in Cloud-based HCM with competitive acquisition of leading recruiting and talent management vendor Taleo.

Event: Today Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ: ORCL), the world’s second largest business applications maker, announced its intentions to acquire Taleo Corporation (NASDAQ: TLEO) for $46.00 per share, or an equivalent of $1.9B. This purchase price represents an 18% premium over prior closing price of $38.94, and values Taleo at almost 5 times its estimated sales for the year. (A sizeable premium, but not as high as SAP’s payment of almost 7.5 times SuccessFactors’ estimated annual sales). The deal is expected to close mid-2012. This latest acquisition brings the total to more than $40B that Oracle has spent across 70+ acquisitions.

Taleo, founded in 1999, is a leading provider of cloud-based talent management solutions to over 5000 enterprises worldwide. Its heritage solution is recruiting software, and today it is a clear leader in the talent acquisition market, managing 15% of all US hires and processing up 74M transactions per day. Over the years Taleo has expanded beyond its heritage to deliver a comprehensive talent management suite including performance and goal management, succession planning, compensation management (which it acquired in 2009 through Worldwide Compensation), and learning and development (also acquired in 2010 from

Analysis: This acquisition is the latest in a string of moves by major players, among the most significant in recent months being SAP’s announcement in December to acquire SuccessFactors for $3.4B and’s announcement in December to create an HCM Business Unit headed by industry veteran John Wookey. In a market which, according to IDC, is expected to reach $8.1B by 2015, these moves make sense as players look to consolidate market share and capitalize on the shift in deployment preferences from on-premise to cloud-based services. An initial analysis of this transaction reveals:

“Taleo brings complimentary solutions to the Oracle Public Cloud.”

Point of View (POV): Taleo’s strength in recruiting and learning fills a significant gap in the Oracle HCM portfolio, which, despite investments over the years, has been unable to attain a market-leading position. Other areas of the Taleo suite face significant overlap with Oracle’s core and Fusion offerings. Taleo was already in the midst of consolidating its various platforms, and this acquisition only adds to the number of platforms under Oracle’s management. I expect Oracle will continue most planned investments in their on-premise solutions (across Oracle EBS, and Oracle PeopleSoft) while accelerating integration between Fusion and Taleo for a more complete cloud offering.

From a cloud perspective, we have witnessed Larry Ellison move from denouncing cloud computing as “nonsense” in 2010 to investing $1.5B in 2011 to acquire RightNow Technologies (cloud-based CRM solution aimed at combating Oracle rival and announcing Oracle’s Public Cloud. With this acquisition of Taleo, Oracle adds new and duplicative cloud-based HCM to its stack, and receives much needed expertise in the area of managing a cloud-based business. The image below demonstrates Oracle’s positioning of this acquisition.

With the acquisition, Oracle has a viable alternative to SaaS-based Workday, enabling it to deliver market-competitive SaaS solutions across the people management spectrum, and hopefully stemming the tide of PeopleSoft HCM customers moving to Workday or other SaaS vendors in lieu of a complex upgrade and Fusion integration.

“The Oracle/Taleo combination delivers powerful intelligence and a complete social experience.”

Point of View (POV): The combination of business intelligence from Taleo’s suite coupled with Oracle’s latest analytics functionality can make for a highly differentiated offering in the market. Additionally, Oracle’s Social Networking (and specifically Fusion Network at Work) capabilities can bring much needed social collaboration into the Taleo suite, filling its most pressing competitive gap across its talent management stack. Taleo’s product roadmap prioritized investments in social technologies at the platform level and in turn at the product level to transform traditional processes into highly collaborative solutions focused on end-users. With this acquisition, I expect these investments will cease or at least take a back seat to the integration of Oracle’s social technologies with the Taleo stack. Oracle’s challenge will be to deliver integration that enables innovation beyond simple connectivity between the two technologies.

“The Oracle/Taleo merger improves the employee experience…simplifies on boarding and quickly aligns employees to company goals, and empowers employees with access to learning and career management tools.”

Point of View (POV): The resulting end-user experience will, for the foreseeable future, be a combination of the Taleo and Oracle capabilities, and as such will depend upon integration. Core data integration (HR data with Taleo’s talent data) is straightforward. What will really improve the employee experience will be a unified user experience (common look & feel, integrated and seamless process flows). Oracle does not have a good history in this area, electing to keep its HCM acquisitions largely silod and relying instead upon emerging Fusion applications to provide that unification layer.

For its part, Taleo comes into the acquisition with its own series of disparate solutions. The platform is not yet fully incorporated into the Taleo platform, and other solutions aimed at different recruiting markets continue to run essentially in silos. Clearly, there is a tremendous amount of work ahead for the Oracle/Taleo teams, not only in defining an innovative and market leading roadmap, but also in rationalizing a now broader collection of technologies.

Bottom Line for Customers and Prospects: Proceed with Caution.

According to the press release, “Oracle is currently reviewing the existing Taleo product roadmap and will be providing guidance to customers in accordance with Oracle’s standard product communication policies. Any resulting features and timing of release of such features as determined by Oracle’s review of Taleo’s product roadmap are at the sole discretion of Oracle.” As a result, customers and prospects should consider the following:

  • Taleo will continue to operate as an independent vendor until the transaction closes. Current Taleo customers are advised to lock in maintenance and subscription rates as far out as possible, and ensure they are not reliant upon future functionality promises to deliver on business imperatives, as the future pace of innovation on this stack is currently unclear.
  • Following the closure of the acquisition, Oracle will be that single “throat to choke” with regard to product, service and integration issues.  Joint Oracle and Taleo customers should apply pressure appropriately to ensure that seamless interoperability is high priority in the future roadmap.
  • For current Oracle customers, this acquisition brings market leading recruiting functionality and robust learning capabilities to the Oracle stack, as well as comprehensive SaaS-based talent management suite. Oracle customers, especially those PeopleSoft customers considering upgrading to latest releases of PeopleSoft or implementing Fusion, will soon have a viable alternative to moving to a 3rd party solution. However achieving a fully unified HCM/TM solution in the cloud is likely years away, compared to the pure-play Saas vendors like Workday and Ultimate, which are building this combined functionality natively rather than through acquisition and subsequent integration. Weigh your needs for integration, functionality and a simplified technology stack in light of the new risks and opportunities from this acquisition.

Bottom line for the HCM Market: Talent Management as a category is disappearing

The HCM market is shifting away from a feature/functionality focus to integrated HCM, with the remaining talent management vendors competing for a shrinking opportunity in light of the moving market. While Oracle (like SAP) lost HCM revenues to best of breed talent management suites in previous years, an increasing number of customers are looking back to their core ERP vendors to re-evaluate their options for an integrated suite. Over time, acquiring Taleo will give Oracle the best of both worlds – market leading functionality delivered in an integrated environment, delivered from a single vendor.

We’ve now heard from market leaders SAP and Oracle. Infor (the #3 ERP vendor) made its move last year to acquire Lawson, including its market leading HCM technology. SuccessFactors has announced its move into the HCM marketplace. Workday continues its drum beat of increasing momentum, and others such as Ultimate and ADP continue to add pressure around SaaS HCM. We can expect further consolidation in this space, perhaps from organizations such as IBM or making additional acquisitions. Who are the likely targets? Certainly the few remaining publicly-traded companies offering cloud-based solutions, such as Saba, Kenexa, Cornerstone OnDemand and Ultimate. Other privately-held vendors are also potential targets, including an emerging breed of players focused on helping organizations “get work done” every day through SaaS-based productivity tools.

Today’s Oracle/Taleo announcement may herald the end of talent management as a separate category of HCM technology, but on its heels may be emerging a new category of vendor, launching again the cycle of innovation, growth and consolidation.

Your POV:

This acquisition has been rumored for some time. Are you surprised by it? Are you a Taleo customer? What is your reaction? Will you embrace Fusion to achieve advanced workforce analytics or social capabilities? Oracle customers: will you move to Taleo’s recruiting solutions, and how might this impact your adoption of Fusion technologies?

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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