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Monday, December 19, 2016

Cornerstone, the newest kid on the global HRIS block

Entering the global HRIS fray
In August 2015 I wrote a post predicting that Cornerstone would have no choice but enter the global HRIS space with a core HR (or HR Admin) offering which I called Cornerstone HR. A couple of months later, at its annual event the company did indeed announce such an offering, calling it Link (here's the post)

A couple of weeks ago, at the annual event held in London, Cornerstone announced a more beefed up version of Link which it now calls ...Cornerstone HR! Since I have the prior claim on the brand name, I facetiously asked CEO Adam Miller for copyright royalties, which drew laughter from the analyst audience gathered at the Hilton Metropole.

So, it is now clear that there is a new player in the game, rattling the global HRIS apple cart. Cornerstone will now start receiving more HRIS RFPs (vs pure learning or talent based ones) and you can expect an increasing number of companies, especially from its installed base to acquire Cornerstone HR. It is more likely that initially there will be more Cornerstone customers, especially those who have never had a global HRIS system in place, that will move up the value chain with Cornerstone HR. But I also expect  net new customers to go down the same road sooner rather than later.

However, for Cornerstone to live up to expectations, reach functional parity with its major competitors and make a success of this new strategy it needs to:
  • Have a strong product management team that understands global HR admin requirements 
  • Rewrite some parts of the underlying data model to move to a person model rather than a user one
  • Beef up substantially several parts of the offering where it lags behind its competitors (see examples in the below graph).
  • Include unique differentiators, maybe on budgeting and planning or around the integration with learning

 A global HRIS star is born ...
but still needs to complete its homework

With this homework done (not an easy feat - just look how long SuccessFactors struggled with Employee Central and it's still WIP), the three global HRIS musketeers will now become four, a development I always felt the market needed. And, remember, in the Alexandre Dumas novel, the three musketeers were actually four. Can you name them? (Don't cheat - I'm providing you with the names below)*

A big question, which corporate buyers may want to ponder, though, is: will this development stabilize Cornerstone as the second independent, pure HR vendor (after Workday)? Or will it make it even more attractive to predators? Rumors have been swirling around that an acquirer was in the wings, ready to pounce. Let's hope that the fourth musketeer remains independent for the benefits of the HR community and the spirit of healthy competition.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

(The blogger is having a tropical Christmas this year before heading back to the Northern Hemisphere)

NOTE: Data in this post are the intellectual property of Ahmed Limam and cannot be reproduced without prior written consent

*Porthos, Athos, Aramis and, of course, D'Artagnan.


  1. Does Ultipro count as an HR player?

    1. If your question is why Ultimate's Ultipro doesn't feature among the Great 4, it's very simple: Ultipro is mainly used in the US, whereas here, as I made it abundantly clear, we are talking about GLOBAL HRIS vendors. The day Ultimate becomes a truly global vendor with a truly global HR offering, then it will become the 5th global HRIS musketeer.