Blog Post

How AI Is Shaping the Future of Work

Mark Goldin

Chief Technology Officer, Cornerstone

If there’s one thing that 2020 has taught employers, it’s that agility and adaptability are essential for dealing with disruption. For many organizations, that means leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to do everything from optimizing retail operations, to streamlining supply chains and creating faster, more personalized customer service. But there is one area in particular where organizations are less bullish: how to leverage AI in the workplace to transform their people’s experience, and drive success.

This doesn’t just mean using AI to automate mundane tasks that bog people down. It means using AI to help them be better at their jobs and grow in their careers. This, in turn, helps organizations uncover better insights about their business and their people, such as making helpful predictions to support productivity, restoring stability—especially in times like these—and creating long-term resiliency.

But today, only 17% of organizations use AI-based solutions in their HR function, and only another 30% plan to do so by 2022, according to the Gartner Artificial Intelligence Survey. And yet, AI has the potential to increase HR scalability, recognize patterns in people’s behavior and offer personalized support where and when needed. For example, AI can surface prescriptive recommendations in areas like recruiting, learning and development, boosting engagement and retention and others. But turning this AI potential into reality doesn’t come without its challenges, from ensuring ethical and unbiased use, to implementing practical, day-to-day applications.

Enter: The Cornerstone Innovation Lab for AI

Today, we announced the Cornerstone Innovation Lab for AI, a new center of excellence within Cornerstone, bringing together data scientists, machine learning engineers and other experts from across the company to innovate practical and ethical ways to apply AI technology to the workplace. Through research and collaboration, the Lab aims to tackle the toughest AI questions that organizations are concerned about, such as how to preserve the human elements of work while relying on automation, and how to operationalize sensitive people data—all while preserving ethics and eliminating bias.

The ultimate goal? Use AI to elevate people’s experience at work into a better, more personalized and rewarding one.

The Challenges of Applying AI to the Workplace—and How to Overcome Them

There’s plenty of opportunity to use AI in the workplace. From helping with HR’s recruiting activities, like filtering candidate applications and automating interview scheduling, to offering employees personalized learning recommendations to support career growth. But as more organizations consider practical use cases like these, there’s a central challenge that stands in the way: effective analysis of people data. And that’s one of the major topics that our new Lab is exploring.

The format of HR data is uniquely diverse.

It takes both AI algorithms and a rich breadth of HR data to derive effective, data-driven insights from the workplace. HR data tends to fall into two, diverse categories. The first is structured data, which arises from quantifiable events like how often employees engage with their training curriculums, the data candidates submit during their hiring process, employee attrition data, and career path data as employees advance and grow within their organization.

Then, there is textual, unstructured data, which comes from resumes, job profiles, performance reviews and descriptions of training courses. Collectively, structured and unstructured data forms a large and varied gamut of HR data. It takes a rich collection of AI algorithms to feed off this data to generate valuable insights into the workplace.

Other major challenges include privacy and security.

Workplace data has powerful implications, but it is also some of the most sensitive data at any company. In addition to shielding it from external bad actors, organizations also need to consider protecting it from exposure internally, too.

I asked Cornerstone’s Vice President and Chief Analytics Architect Asif Qamar to explain it:

"As we analyze the data, we should not, even ourselves [at Cornerstone], become aware who this person is. We have to deal with data completely stripped of personally identifiable information."

Looking beyond big data to cross-functional use cases.

Many companies today claim they have AI solutions, but in actuality, they are just business intelligence tools (a.k.a. big data). Their use case streamlines one specific operation using a finite data set.

To truly be AI, a solution must be applicable to a variety of flexible and changing situations, leverage data from across the organization and be able to provide predictive and intelligent decisions and recommendations. When this type of AI-driven insight is culled from a comprehensive window into the workplace, it transcends usefulness that traditionally derived analytics enables with business intelligence tools.

AI Will Humanize Work—and Improve People Experience

As our new Lab continues to explore these and the myriad other unique facets of AI in HR, we’re already seeing some success in applying best practices to our own AI engine.

Recruiting. A component of Cornerstone’s AI engine, the Cornerstone Skills Graph, can analyze a job applicant’s resume and capture their skills even when they aren’t explicitly mentioned—a major innovation that recruiting teams can tap into.

Asif explains it like this:

"What our AI engine can do is infer things not mentioned in a resume. It’s studying the resumes of hundreds of millions of people and seeing the relationship between skills. It’s learning to understand those relationships in order to make accurate predictions."

Learning and development. By analyzing how people engage with existing learning content—what topics they choose, how often they view it and how well they retain information—our AI engine can identify their personal learning preferences and provide methods to optimize their learning experience.

Career development. And because Cornerstone’s AI engine is designed to be cross-functional, it has the capacity to extend its prescriptions beyond a single use case. For example, the Cornerstone Skills Graph not only analyzes learning behaviors, but also career trajectories. This makes it possible for the system to offer recommendations that empower employees to use their newly acquired skills to propel their careers forward.

Here’s Asif again, to explain:

"We have data from thousands of employees who have followed well-trodden paths. This makes it possible to make a probabilistic model for where others want to go. When we can infer that, we can make recommendations not simply based on what you have been learning recently, but also what will help you with career growth."

The result is not only a better learning experience, but also a more personalized, holistic work culture designed around development.

Humans Are Still More Essential Than Ever

When AI is implemented successfully, the possibilities to transform (read: personalize, humanize and improve) people's experience at work become virtually limitless. But there’s one important caveat as Asif shares here:

"At the end of the day, the interpretation of data is human. AI can surface interesting things for observation, but it cannot replace people. It is a decision support system to bring efficiencies and optimizations for the HR team and employees."

In the pursuit of these transformative use-cases for AI in the workplace, it’s important not to overlook ethics and bias. After all, AI systems can pick up on and learn from existing patterns of, say, conscious or unconscious bias in hiring, at an organization. This is another ongoing area of focus for our data scientists.

Fundamentally, AI will continue to make potentially biased predictions if the data sets are inherently biased. Two important ways to address this are to ensure the AI team is diverse and conduct adverse impact studies, something we are making a point of doing at Cornerstone.

Employee-centric AI Is Key

As organizations increasingly implement AI across their businesses, they must keep this goal in mind: leverage AI to improve the experience for their people in real, practical ways. Moving forward, our Lab will continue to educate business and IT leaders—as well as employees —about the role AI can have in the workplace. We’ll explore how AI can restore workforce stability, how it can support diversity initiatives, ethical ways to apply AI, and more. We look forward to sharing these topics with you in future.

To learn more about the potential of AI in the workplace, visit the Cornerstone Innovation Lab for AI web page.

Related Resources

Want to keep learning? Explore our products, customer stories, and the latest industry insights.

Learning Technologies 2022: key takeaways and learnings

Blog Post

Learning Technologies 2022: key takeaways and learnings

Missed us at Learning Technologies 2022 this year? Here’s a roundup of our activities and sessions at the event. It was great to be back face to face, chatting all things learning and development. It was also the first opportunity to hear the findings from our latest Cornerstone People Research Lab Report, our enlightening global survey on everything skills development. These are some key findings from the Report: Employers and employees aren’t fully aligned on current skills focus. There continues to be a significant Skills Confidence gap between employers and employees when it comes to confidence in their organisation’s current ability to help them develop new skills. This gap not only persisted from 2020, but - on average - grew wider. Employees are not confident their companies are prioritising skills in the future. The research revealed that only 55% of employees are confident in their organisation’s future prioritisation of new skilling opportunities for them. The Skills Confidence Gap narrowed or widened depending on organisational strength. High-performing organisations (HPOs) had a much smaller gap between employees and employers. HPOs not only prioritised skill development at a much higher level than their peers, but their employees also agreed with them — with only an 11% gap between employer and employee perception. Meanwhile, Laggards (low-performing organisations) not only rated their prioritisation of skill development much lower, but less than 20% of employees in those organisations also agreed that skills development is an important objective — a 42% gap. Key Cornerstone executives such as Mark Debono, VP of UK, Ireland and the Middle East and Mark Lamswood, Regional Director of Content at Cornerstone as well as valued customers NSPCC, Essex County Council and DP DHL were all in attendance to share their industry insights and their own compelling stories. Here's a rundown on some of the sessions that were held: Mark Debono: Powering a future-ready workforce On the first day of Learning Technologies, Mark Debono, hosted a session unpacking some of the key messages from our Cornerstone Skills Report. Mark discussed how the playing field has fundamentally changed in the world of work, and the winners are the ones who can collaborate and engage with their workforce. Mark also delved into some of the most common challenges and opportunities facing every organisation including the skills shortage and shared actionable insights on how to efficiently scale your business’s growth and development plans. A key takeaway from the session Mark hosted, was that talent leaders hold the golden thread of connecting people with growth opportunities, bringing in new talent, alongside optimising future-readiness for all.  Mark Lamswood and Sarah Spence: Content takes centre stage - How the pandemic and great resignation are super-charging L&D Mark Lamswood and Sarah Spence, Senior Solution Consultant at Cornerstone together discussed how to engage employees and make work, learning and development meaningful for everyone. As we know, learning has changed for good: employees expect personalised, on-demand and impactful development approaches. These are some interesting stats and insights from the session: Interest in learning increased six-fold during the pandemic 4.63 million minutes of learning has been consumed in the UK over the last twelve months On average, interest in learning has tripled, with key topics ranging from unconscious bias, diversity, equity and inclusion to mental health and effective communication NSPCC: Re-imagining the learner experience to improve outcomes for children The session hosted by one of our customers, the NSPCC, was certainly interesting as they discussed how they’re using Cornerstone technology to reimagine the learner experience for Childline, improving outcomes for child wellbeing through learning and development. They elaborated on their approach of blended learning, improving digital accessibility, and making sure all learners can come together to share resources. NSPCC shared their journey of how they have successfully integrated the Cornerstone learning platform and their vision for 2031. It was a brilliant event that led to insightful discussions and informative sessions and indeed fostered a learning environment for all who attended. To read more on the Cornerstone Research Lab Report “Addressing the Global Skills Shortage: Your Path Through the Wilderness” please click here.

Cornerstone + SumTotal

Article

Cornerstone + SumTotal

Everything Cornerstone accomplished in Q2

Blog Post

Everything Cornerstone accomplished in Q2

The first quarter of 2022 was a pretty great one for Cornerstone. You may have read our blog about everything we accomplished. So when we say that this quarter exceeded the high expectations we had coming out of Q1, know that we mean it. Mainly because we wouldn't have written this blog if we didn't. In the second quarter of 2022, we were all about growth. Growth in our people, capabilities, expertise and ambitions. Here are just a few of the things we accomplished in Q2: Uncovered leading trends across our industry Expanded our teams and capabilities Secured exciting wins with and for our customers Received consistent recognition from global industry expert Each of these achievements helped cement our position as a leader in learning, skills development, content, and AI-powered people experiences. And even with all that, there's still more to say about what Cornerstone accomplished in Q2. Identifying leading trends across the skills development landscape We kicked things off in a big way in Q2 with the release of our second global research study, Thriving in the Global Skills Shortage: Your Path Through the Wilderness. The report placed a bright spotlight on organisational trends in the evolving skills development landscape, with a specific focus on the widening employee-employer Skills Confidence Gap and the ongoing sense of urgency surrounding skills and talent shortages. The top three key findings from our research were: Employers and employees aren’t fully aligned on skill prioritisation Employees are not confident their organisations are prioritising skills in the future The Skills Confidence Gap narrowed or widened depending on organisational strength Cornerstone CEO Himanshu Palsule summed it up best, calling the research findings a demonstration of "how organisations and their people continue to see skills development as an increasingly important part of navigating their shared future successfully.” Remaining intentional in our business expansions We acquired a full other company this quarter. And we made definitive plans to acquire another. This is how we really kicked our “growth” into full gear. In Q2, we proudly completed the acquisition of EdCast, and with it promoted our intentions to revolutionise the learning landscape. Together, our teams have united and shared ambitious goals to solve the most critical talent and business demands we're seeing in work today. We can’t wait to watch as our shared vision comes to life. The Cornerstone and EdCast teams got to work quickly, announcing an exciting Zoom integration that will embed learning and training tools to help drive productivity and upskilling. And what comes next after the completion of one acquisition? Plans for a second, of course. We quickly followed the completion of our EdCast acquisition with the announcement of our definitive plans to acquire SumTotal. Now, we can’t share too much just yet, but we can say that this partnership will introduce some seriously impactful improvements for our customers in how they identify and develop the skills of the future, engage and grow their people, and adapt to organisational agility. EdCast and SumTotal weren’t the only newcomers on the block, however. We also welcomed two powerhouse leaders to our executive team: Ryan Courson joined Cornerstone as our chief financial officer. A fun fact about Ryan? He previously served as the youngest CFO of a public company, the Seaspan Corporation (no big deal!). Carina Cortez also joined Cornerstone as our chief people officer. Coming from Glassdoor as their CPO, Carina brings a unique perspective on the power of people growth and strong company cultures. Customer success all around the world Q2 was no exception when it came to helping our customers create purpose in what they do. Our successful efforts to help bring their organisations to the next level were reflected in our customers’ expanded partnership offerings, relationship extensions, and many new customers. Just a few of the legacy customers that saw more success with Cornerstone this quarter include: Smith and Nephew CDN UNHCR META O’Neal Allegis Group AmeriHealth Caritas Viking Group Inc. Americold Logistics Indiana Packers Corporation The National Bank of Indianapolis Ziggy’s Home Improvement Vital Farms Vensure Employer Services And new customers finding success as they start their journeys with Cornerstone: Grammar AG ASML Chewy Texas Commission TOI Management Many of our customers took their success to the big screen, garnering award-winning recognition. A special shout out to Suntory Holdings, Cardinal Health, DPDHL, and Estee Lauder Companies for securing big wins from the 2022 Chief Learning Officer in the Learning Elite Awards. Each of these customers was recognised for best-in-class levels of performance across five dimensions: learning strategy, leadership commitment, learning execution, learning impact, and business performance results We're just happy to be a part of it. Our customers weren’t the only ones winning in Q2 Seeing our customers thrive is always a win for us. We don’t mind accepting a little love from our industry, too. Cornerstone received a flurry of recognition from established industry experts and reports, including: Recognition as a Strategic Challenger in the Fosway 9-Grid™ for Talent Acquisition Ranking in HRO Today's L&D Baker's Dozen Named a Leader for Worldwide Modern Talent Acquisition Within Talent Management and Worldwide Modern Talent Acquisition by IDC MarketScape Winner of the 2022 Craig Weiss Top-Ten Learning Systems eLearning Industry’s Top Extended Enterprise Learning Management Systems List Rated as a Leader by HerbertNathan & Co. in the first Scandinavian LMS Report We also welcomed several meaningful awards in Q2 for our products, industry influence, and original content. Some highlights include: TrustRadius Top Rated Awards for Talent Management Winner Women Impact Tech 100 Honoree Top 100 HR Tech Influencers Winner Inspiring Workplaces Enterprise Finalist HR Tech Awards Winner for Best Advance in Practical AI in Talent Development 6-time Telly Award Winner for Cornerstone Originals for excellence in Diversity & Inclusion, Workplace Culture, Sustainability, and Corporate Training Q3 and beyond With the news of our intention to acquire SumTotal, there’s no doubt we will see even greater opportunities to help a larger, more diverse group of customers in Q3. Stay tuned for more on that in the second half of 2022. In the meantime, we’ll keep investing in our products, cross-functionality, and customer engagement to take our people experience, learning, and talent initiatives to the next level. We don’t take all these accomplishments lightly, and we’re proud to say that we’re on a clear path to changing the game in learning, skills development, content, people experiences and so much more. Be sure to check back in Q3 to see the latest and greatest from Cornerstone!

Schedule a personalised 1:1

Talk to a Cornerstone expert about how we can help with your organisation’s unique people management needs.

© Cornerstone 2022
Legal