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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Adam Miller, CEO of Cornerstone OnDemand (Part 4)

Posted on Thursday, May 24th 2012

Sramana Mitra: Everything is said in terms of the vision for talent management. That has been the vision for talent management all along. This is not new. Maybe this vision has not penetrated widely into enterprises and into business right now. That penetration is a factor of channels and technology adoption across the board over the next five or ten years. I understand that; however, I think the vision is not new. What I’m looking for is, Where do you see innovation happening, and where are the nuggets of innovation and new things that really push the envelope?

Adam Miller: Again, number one, the shift to user centricity because of the consumerization of the enterprise. So, people have different expectations about what tools are available to them and how easy it is to access those tools. Part of that is mobile: making sure that you can get this stuff anywhere from any device, and you can get just-in-time information whenever you need it.

Social, or making sure that people have easy ways to collaborate across the organization and maybe even beyond the organization with what we call the extended enterprise:  your customers, contractors, vendors, people outside the organization … your volunteers, perhaps.

And then analytics: Obviously there’s a lot of talk about big data and what’s happening in the analytics space. As a company like ours gets bigger and bigger, we have a tremendous amount of data about how people work and what makes them effective. Having the ability to allow organizations to benchmark themselves around best practices, around what is most effective to make themselves more effective becomes really important.

So, I would say social, mobile, and analytics are important. Then doing it end to end. Most of the companies out there have been focused on a particular piece of talent management. As I said earlier, the newer companies are focused on even smaller slices of talent management. Our view is that you have to be holistic in your solution because that is the way that people get managed. That’s the way people most effectively get managed. You don’t just get managed on one aspect of what you’re doing. That’s not the best way to empower an employee or make him more effective. You have to have a holistic view of everything about that person to make him effective.

Our product management focus is on social, mobile, and analytics as well as making sure that we deal with every aspect of talent management both internally and externally.

SM: Would you give a couple of use cases about what it means to focus on the user, on the employee, on the talent that you’re trying to manage? And what are you delivering, from a technology point of view, to enable employers to do a good job of that? Tell us something that is unique and interesting.

AM: For example, making the user profile the center of how the user interacts with the system and how the user interacts with everybody else; combining organizational data with user-generated content; making sure that the employee has a full view of everything going on with her, how people think about her, what her responsibilities are, what she’s doing from the employee’s standpoint as distinct from everything that’s being pushed to her or assigned to her or processes that she’s forced to follow at a certain point. Employees are able to initiate any of these things whenever they want or need to.

SM: OK. Let me share with you the trends I am seeing. For example, we have a company in One Million by One Million that does employee rewards and recognition with a social platform. And this company has enterprise customers. Another trend that I’m seeing is companies that are doing various innovations in social recruitment. This seems to be quite an active category right now as far as companies starting up. Are there other such trends where you’re seeing a lot of activity?

AM: Yes, I would say it’s social everything. The first companies would be described as social performance. How do you [enable] employees to get feedback from other employees when they want it and not necessarily when the company has authorized it to happen or mandated it to happen? And how do employees effectively give feedback to other employees when they want to? That’s the kudos idea or the “wine and feedback.” You have three different ways that it happens.

One is the traditional way where the company mandates that there’s a performance review process and feedback has to happen at a certain time. The second is the employees themselves want to get feedback. They decide from whom they want to get feedback, and they initiate it whenever they want. A good example might be at the end of a project that they do. They want to get feedback from their project team members. The third case is an employee wants to give somebody else feedback based on the good job the person did or a problem he has. So, [you need to have] a way to allow that employee to give feedback to anybody else in the organization. That’s social performance.

Social recruiting is around sourcing, and it’s the idea that my best sources of candidates are my employees, and the bigger the company I have, the more true that is. Therefore, if I can tap into the social networks of my employees, I’m going to have a good view of potential candidates for the organization … not to mention that people like to work with their friends. You end up with a better, often more qualified, more easily screened pool of candidates if you can leverage the social networks of your employees. Social recruiting is really important.

On the learning side, you have social learning. Social learning is the idea that I can post something myself, not mandated by the company but as an individual, that I think would be useful for other people to learn from. Other people can rate and review it and share it with people they know, assign it to people they know, if they’re managers, and it becomes a social collaboration around development as distinct from the traditional way this would happen, where it’s just one organization mandating the training that everybody has.

Obviously, you have social networking itself. This is employees being able to interact or collaborate with other employees or even the extended enterprise, their customers, clients, partners, resellers, and maybe even vendors. You have a true collaboration of the entire ecosystem for an organization. That is what’s described as social everything. Our tools are being developed or already are in many cases allowing for social everything: social learning, social performance, social recruiting, social networking, and that interaction with the extended enterprise all together.

SM: Well, thank you for your time and your insights.

AM: Thank you.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Adam Miller, CEO of Cornerstone OnDemand
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