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If you work in human resources at a small or midsize business (SMB), you already know how difficult it is to find a digital learning and performance solution that isn't too complex or expensive and still addresses all of your needs. A 2017 report found that while more than half of SMB leaders rank talent development as extremely or very important, nearly two-thirds of these same leaders rate their organization's talent development strategy as unsophisticated.

But hopefully that is about to change. Six years after the release of their first SMB product, and many iterations later (including the acquisition of Sonar6), Cornerstone has announced they are leaving the "one size fits all" approach to talent management for SMBs behind. Today, Cornerstone released PiiQ—an expanded version of its former Growth Edition 2.0 product, now with learning functionality—designed specifically for SMBs who need a simple solution to learning and performance.

With the addition of PiiQ to its talent management arsenal of products, SMB buyers now have options—ranging from simple and intuitive to robust and integrated—when it comes to finding a performance, learning and recruiting solution that works for them.

We sat down with Chirag Shah, vice president and general manager of global SMB operations here at Cornerstone, to find out more about what PiiQ means for the future of talent management in SMBs.

What was the inspiration for the name PiiQ?

We wanted a unique identity for this solution because it offers a differentiated value proposition from what Cornerstone is known for – one of simplicity, ease of use and quick configuration. You don't have to go through the multi-month implementation cycle that you would with other solutions built to accommodate companies with highly complex structures and needs; with PiiQ, you can get up and running in a matter of hours. Of the many potential names we considered, we particularly liked PiiQ because it’s short, simple and derived from the word peak, P-E-A-K. Given our objective with this product is to help SMBs and their people reach their highest or "peak” potential, it’s a great fit.

How does the launch of PiiQ align with Cornerstone's larger SMB strategy?

Last year, our SMB efforts were organized functionally within the company, meaning that the sales, marketing, product and development teams all reported to different people across multiple regions. Since the SMB segment is highly distinct from the other areas Cornerstone has a presence in, we wanted to make sure we had a unified team of people who are focused on SMB each and every day. So we took all of the aforementioned functions and centralized their reporting under me, and my only job is to think about how we can build a large global presence in the SMB segment. Obviously a pretty significant change, but one that I think much better positions us for success going forward.

What impact will PiiQ have on SMBs?

SMBs are often competing for talent against much larger companies, and if they want to be competitive in today’s talent marketplace, they must invest in the development of their people. While PiiQ has been designed with simplicity and ease-of-use in mind, it still enables SMBs to implement many of the best practice talent management strategies used by the world’s leading organizations.

There are also a lot of cost efficiencies that come along with moving to a software solution like PiiQ. It allows you to automate the entire performance review process, saving the countless hours that you may otherwise be required to spend doing paper reviews and sending out individual emails. On the learning side, administering training for your organization in an online format helps you eliminate the high levels of investment required of physical learning programs.

What are some of the things you have done with PiiQ that differentiate it from the competition?

PiiQ is the only solution specifically designed for SMBs that offers unified performance and learning management capabilities. We believe these two areas very clearly go hand-in-hand: after conducting a performance review and identifying certain skills gaps in an employee, the next step for you would be to help the employee address those gaps with relevant training content.

With PiiQ, we've also made significant investments in ease-of-use and product simplification. It's extremely easy to set up and intuitively designed so that it can be used no matter what level of experience you have with talent management software.

What would you recommend to SMBs who aren't sure if PiiQ is the right solution for them?

If you are looking for a talent management solution but don't know what would best suit your business, I would encourage you to visit our SMB website. It allows you to look at Cornerstone’s entire product portfolio for SMBs side-by-side and compare features to help you decide what would best address your needs. It’s a great place to go for anyone who knows that they need "something" to help manage performance management and learning within their organization, but don't know where to start.