What Cornerstone’s acquisition of EdCast means for HR tech

Today’s announcement of learning software provider Cornerstone OnDemand’s acquisition of learning experience platform (LXP) provider EdCast could mean further consolidation in the learning and development market, expert say—and it could suggest a great push by HR leaders to increase their educational options to retain employees in the current market. 

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Details of the deal were undisclosed but it is expected to be finalized in the second quarter of 2022.

Related: Josh Bersin details why the Cornerstone-EdCast deal will have ‘a huge impact’

The employee learning market is crowded with 20 to 30 technology and content providers, including large names such as Microsoft, Oracle, Workday and UKG at the top. And the market is hot: According to research from Sapient Insights Group, 29% of organizations say they are evaluating or thinking about replacing their learning management systems in the next 12 to 24 months. 

Related: How upskilling and learning can help neutralize the Great Resignation

“We are seeing the [L&D] industry converge because employees have more say in where they’re working,” says Stacey Harris, chief research officer and managing director of Sapient Insights Group. “[They say,] ‘I want more development, more from my company and I expect more from my company learning.”

“This is part of the Great Resignation conversation,” she adds.

A comprehensive employee education program is a vital part of the modern employee value proposition, she says. “HR leaders must understand that learning is part of the benefits they offer and how they present themselves,” she says. “The tools they use will make a big difference in employees’ perception of the company they’re working for.”

Currently, the employee learning sector is comprised of learning management systems that train employees for their jobs, and learning experience platforms, like those created by EdCast, that allow employees to create their own learning and career development programs. 

Related Amid the Great Resignation, why some employers are boosting L&D budgets

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Roughly 80% of organizations have an LMS in place while 20% offer an LXP program, but that latter number is set to grow, according to Harris. “The LXP has seen huge gains internationally as self-learning requirements grow,” she says.

The acquisition of EdCast, which was No. 2 in the employee L&D space, puts Cornerstone on near-equal footing with education program provider and market leader Degreed, which helped to pioneer the LXP. It also allows EdCast customers to have access to an LMS system provided by Cornerstone—EdCast had a smaller LMS system in comparison to Cornerstone’s solution. 

Before today’s deal, Cornerstone, a private company worth more than $1 billion, competed with smaller companies like Absorb, Docebo, LearnUpon, Totara and enterprise platforms like Oracle HCM, SuccessFactors Learning and Workday Learning, according to Josh Bersin, HRE columnist and HR technology analyst. 

Cornerstone has more than 75 million users who work for more than 6,000 organizations and was acquired by private equity firm Clearlake for $5.2 billion last year.

Bersin has high hopes for the Cornerstone-EdCast deal. 

Cornerstone has outperformed its competitors for years, largely through its culture of customer-centricity, market savvy and tenacity. EdCast did the same,” Bersin wrote recently about the development. “Once these management teams come together, I see nothing but growth in the future.” 

Phil Albinus
Phil Albinus is HR Tech Editor for HRE. He has been covering personal and business technology for 25 years and has served as editor and executive editor for a number of financial services, trading technology and employee benefits titles. He is a graduate of SUNY New Paltz and lives in the Hudson Valley with his audiologist wife and three adult children. He can be reached at palbinus@lrp.com and on social media below.

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