We had the opportunity to attend Cornerstone’s yearly user conference Confluence in San Diego, held from June 5th till 7th 2017, at the San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina. The conference was very well attended with over 1000 attendees, and almost 30 influencers. The show floor saw a wide range of partners – including – as it’s in the time of the marketplace – coopetitors. A good sign for customers. 


So, look at my musings on the event here: (if the video doesn’t show up, check here)


No time to watch – here is the 1-2 slide condensation (if the slide doesn’t show up, check here):

Want to read on? 
Here you go: Always tough to pick the takeaways – but here are my Top 3:

Conerstone on Demand Confluence Holger Mueller Constellation Research
Miller opens keynote

Back to the [Learning] Basics – Cornerstone started in the Learning area of Talent Management and that is where till today the bulk of its customers are. But the focus in the last years has been on adding more Talent Management capabilities, notably in Recruiting and Performance Management, and most recently (last year) even beyond Talent Management with HR Core. In the meantime, software technology has progressed in regards of video capabilities, publishing, machine learning etc. and that requires a re-visit on how Learning best practices are evolving or have changed. So, its timely for Cornerstone to go back to the basics and revisit Learning. Inspiration came from Netflix (see content that’s relevant) to Spotify (serve next relevant content – like the next song), with that Cornerstone is heading in the right direction. But Cornerstone has more than a software direction, the vendor also has a content ambition, starting with the launch of CyberU a year ago – but even more so now, trying to become a content aggregator for all things (enterprise) learning. It’s good to see that the 21st century Learning experience is understood as the combination of functionality and content.
Conerstone on Demand Confluence Holger Mueller Constellation Research
The new learner experience

New Products – Engagement and Benchmarking – The demand around engagement remain strong it seems, as Cornerstone was compelled to add its own engagement capabilities. This is a valuable mover for customers, as they don’t have to look for a separate vendor to address the employee survey / engagement needs. It’s too early to tell if Cornerstone can play well enough in the engagement game compared to the best of breed vendors, but it’s the consequential strategy of the suite vendor to add new functionality when demand is there. On the Benchmarking side, Cornerstone follows a general trend. With cloud scale backends, customer want to (finally) see answers on how they are doing compared to peers and other enterprises. So, good to see Cornerstone launching its product in the space. 
Conerstone on Demand Confluence Holger Mueller Constellation Research
Cornerstone Engage

Overall on the right track – In previous years I have shared my concerns around Cornerstone’s architecture, technology, user experience and implementation cost. To make it short, Cornerstone has advanced in all four areas. While most of the technology and architecture changes are still under wraps, the direction with smaller services, looking at cloud native deployment - are the right steps. The user experience is much improved when compared to 12 or 24 months ago, something that wasn’t left unnoticed by customers. And Cornerstone has always listened to customers when it came requirements and implantation, the latest push is the new customer advocate Karla. All things moving in the right direction for customers, who want easy to use, easy to deploy and flexible to run HCM offerings. Cornerstone is working hard to get in that direction.

Conerstone on Demand Confluence Holger Mueller Constellation Research
Cornerstone Benchmark


A good user conference for Cornerstone customers and partners. The vendor is growing and that always generates a good vibe at user events. Customers are expanding their Cornerstone footprint. The new HR Core offering, launched only a year ago, (not surprisingly) is seeing more traction in Europe than North America. Cornerstone is working hard to get a bigger footprint in the Japanese market as well.

On the concern side, Cornerstone is in a transition mode on many fronts. Its architecture and deployment must change successfully in the next 12 months, it is building for new best practices that customers will have to adopt and it is pushing for more growth overall. On the bright side the vendor has turned to profitability, a financial state it now needs to maintain, if not improve. So, a lot of challenges in the next 12 months, no reason or indicators that Cornerstone cannot handle them, nonetheless – there is a lot on the plate for the vendor and a lot of change coming for customers.

Exciting times ahead, stay tuned. 

Want to learn more? Checkout the Storify collection below about the conference and about the analyst event here (if it doesn’t show up – check here).