Wow, that week went by fast! Our first time in person at Convergence since May 2019. It was fantastic! Seeing people in person, reconnecting, developing new relationships, and experiencing the energy of the event was just what I needed. I also know that it is just what the industry needed. We are designed to be with people, to engage and learn from each other. That is just what we did. We learned, together. Our team met with Cornerstone, Saba, EdCast, and SumTotal customers. We attended sessions, led our own session about Driving Engagement, and participated in strategic conversations with Cornerstone. What did we learn? I typically write the top three things we learned but, on this occasion, there was so much that I have expanded to the top five things we learned at Convergence. Let’s get started.

#1 - It is all about the experience

The experience for the learner, employee, manager, executive, and extended enterprise. Experience was the number one theme from our customers, attendees, and Cornerstone. The ability to engage the participant simply and effectively is critical. Our customers are looking to optimize their use of tools to engage their people more effectively. They are looking for outcomes and impact from the engagement and experience, not just activity completion. Creating the right experience is critical to simplify and direct learners and users through the talent development process. Cornerstone announced new functionality including the Opportunity Marketplace. This is an experience-driven version of what is typically called a Talent Marketplace. It utilizes the functionality of EdCast to provide visibility for employees to view new opportunities within their organization or people to become employees. We will share more details on these announcements soon. Summarizing our key point. Creating the right experience has never been more important in a landscape of competition of people and ever-changing requirements for skills. The opportunity to make a different today is incredible.

#2 - Content, Content, and Content

 If there was one topic on everyone’s mind it was content. Requirements to develop new custom content, discernment around the right pre-packaged content, virtual and augmented reality. We had numerous conversations about returning to the classroom, leadership development, and cohort learning. These conversations were about the post-pandemic transition. With a new world of work and ever-changing skills, new products to release, and updates to content not touched over the past few years, we can see the stress of learning and talent leaders as they explore solutions to rapidly solve their biggest problem which is content. Content providers and developers are in transition. How this shakes out will impact our industry in a big way. One last item to add here. Vertical-specific content is a hot topic and something we have seen growing over the past three to four years. Be on the lookout for new announcements in the near future.

#3 - Learning and Talent teams are overwhelmed with requests

 Business leaders now see the value of developing current employees instead of hiring new people. That does not mean that hiring stops, it means that there is a shift of focus. How to rapidly develop new leaders, share lessons learned, develop new skills (that were not required a year ago), talent identification, group or cohort learning, expansion of compliance requirements, enabling employee-driven development, user-generated content, gaps in training and development capabilities and how to report on the progress of all these activities were a few of the key discussions we had with customers and attendees. There is a lot to manage here. Most staff are struggling with increased engagement levels and demand for internal services. Some are looking to outsource work and administration of services. Do you identify with these issues and concerns? The great news is that everyone we spoke with is focusing on impact, not tools. They want to make a difference for their people and organization.

#4 - To skill or not to skill

 That is the question. Cornerstone announced its new Intelligent Tech Fabric Layer. This new tool has three elements. Skills studio, Content studio, and AI-powered people intelligence layer. Skills studio allows organizations to manage their skills ontology. In fact, Cornerstone is going to provide their skills ontology free for download. The second element Content studio enables the management of content creation, content management, and alignment to skills. The third element, the People Intelligence layer enables knowledge graphs, smart profiles, and talent insights. The ability to provide insight on talent will be connected to all Cornerstone learning and talent management platforms including Cornerstone, Saba, and SumTotal. It appears that these Cornerstone skills tools will help organizations move at a quicker pace to align skill development within the organization. Caution as always is that this process requires a lot of planning and preparation. Do not just jump in the water on skills. Make sure you get it right the first time. It is clear from our conversations at Convergence that the skills movement is taking hold. It may be a few years before the impact is realized but it is important that we all begin looking at the opportunity to understand organizational skill requirements and demands to develop our teams for the future of our business.

#5 - EdCast and SumTotal

 There are often questions post-acquisition about what will happen with the acquired organization. If you are a SumTotal customer do not be concerned. SumTotal will continue to operate, and I believe is in a great place to succeed and expand the capabilities of the current platform. I have always been a fan of SumTotal, and they now have the right leadership and capabilities to support customers and provide new opportunities to drive impact. The SumTotal platform is not going away. It is an important part of Cornerstone’s strategy. EdCast will only expand. At the beginning of my writing, I mentioned how important experience is to the future of learning and talent. EdCast is at the core of Cornerstone’s experience strategy. EdCast is the LXP Cornerstone has been looking for and its career outlook and AI capabilities will power the new Cornerstone Opportunity Marketplace. I would recommend seeing EdCast for yourself. If you need help organizing a demo, please let me know. I am happy to facilitate a conversation with the Cornerstone team and provide my own personal insights into the evolution of EdCast.

I started this letter focused on the impact of being in person with Cornerstone, SumTotal, EdCast, and Saba customers and team members. As I reflect on the experience one week ago, I realize that I am only scratching the surface of what the Bluewater team learned during those three days. I would appreciate the opportunity to continue this conversation.

If you were at Convergence, I would love to hear what you learned. If you were unable to attend, then let’s talk and we can share even more about what we learned at Cornerstone Convergence 2022.