Nature vs. Nurture. Yes, It Applies to Talent Management Software

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Nature vs. Nuture.  We all know what that means in terms of human development — the roles of heredity vs. the environment as influencers (the debate goes back to 13th century France, and will not be conclusively solved in this blog!)

But let’s think about the concept in terms of software;  “Nature:” software that is organically created – all built by one provider, (perhaps even the same engineering team) – and “Nurture:” software that is “consolidated” – applications acquired from other companies and bolted-on or otherwise added to the providers original product.

Now those of you who deal with HRIS integrations know that disparate product integrations are not trivial. And truth be told, they are often not much easier for a provider than they are for your IT staff to figure out. Many of the talent management solutions we see on the market today are an amalgamation of several different products, with different data models, often created on different platforms altogether. It can conceivably take years for the vendor itself to achieve deep levels of integration in the different applications – no matter how carefully nurtured the applications are.

Which brings me to Cornerstone On-Demand. The company has organically grown its suite from the ground up, providing its customers with that deep level of integration from Day One of any added module or feature. (Now they are not the only totally “home-grown” application on the talent management market – Ottawa’s Halogen Software is another organically created talent management suite; Workday is an example from the ERP market.) Their strength in part is in that very factor:  “nature.”

Bersin & Associates research demonstrates the value of integration between performance management and other talent-related initiatives in terms of business outcomes. And that integration seems most rapidly available from companies like the three mentioned above that build their product sets from the ground up themselves. (see Stacia Sherman Garr’s work on performance management for more details on the value of integration.)

Cornerstone OnDemand (NASDAQ: CSOD) provides a total suite of multi-tenant SaaS talent management solutions (learning, recruiting and hiring management, performance, compensation, competency management, and succession management) as well as what they refer to as  “extended enterprise “– solutions that facilitates the delivery of training, certification programs and resources to the organization’s network of customers, vendors, distributors and other third parties that constitute the organization’s extended enterprise, ( a feat which has become much more difficult with the rise of outsourcing and increasing globalization.)

“Social” support is inherent in Cornerstone’s recruiting capability, the social recognition program that has a familiar Facebook-like look and feel, and in the support for groups and communities for both the employees and collaborative extended enterprise participants.
 
Business Review in a Nutshell

Cornerstone OnDemand has enjoyed consistent, steady quarter over quarter revenue growth since Q1, 2009, with a consistent incremental user growth from 2.4 to 8.2 million users of their product, as they moved from a training solution provider to a talent management suite provider over that time period.

Nature Pays

Both Cornerstone and Halogen rank among the highest in last summer’s Bersin & Associates’ evaluation of the customer experience—their customers gave the two companies higher customer satisfaction scores across the board than most of the talent management suite players. Perhaps – just perhaps—inherent integration makes a product more satisfying to use and easier to support—making for happy customers. In software, nature may triumph over nurture!

Christa Degnan Manning

Vice President, Solution Provider Research Leader / Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Christa leads technology and service provider research for Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP. In this role, she helps businesses align their workforce support strategies with appropriate third-party software developers, service partners, and governance models. A 25-year technology industry veteran, Christa’s expertise assists organizations in creating functional capabilities and employee experiences that increase productivity, engagement, and workforce efficiency. Frequently cited by business and trade media, she has presented market research on business to business trends, leading practices, and expected challenges and benefits at industry and user conferences globally throughout her career. Christa has a bachelor of arts in English from Barnard College, Columbia University, incorporating studies at University College, University of London. She also holds a master of arts degree in English from the University of Massachusetts and has completed executive coursework on business metrics at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

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