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What Your HR Data Can Tell You About Your Business

Cornerstone OnDemand President and CEO Adam MillerCornerstone OnDemand President and CEO Adam Miller
Cornerstone OnDemand President and CEO Adam MillerCourtesy of Cornerstone OnDemand

Cornerstone OnDemand, one of few remaining pure-play players in cloud talent management software, wants more credibility outside the human resources department. To make its case, the company introduced new workforce analytics services this week that it believes could be used for broader business planning purposes.

For example, a manufacturer or energy exploration company might combine sales forecasts with information about the skill sets and career paths of existing employees to redeploy teams to different locations or to reprioritize hiring plans.

The data, part of an offering called Cornerstone Insights, could also be used to predict potential compliance risks, said Cornerstone OnDemand (CSOD) president and CEO Adam Miller. It could also be used to filter incoming job applications so recruiters can focus only on the best-qualified applicants. The new services build on machine learning technology from Evolv, which the cloud software company acquired in October 2014.

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Most organizational issues are related to people, not widgets. For healthcare providers, for example, growth is closely tied to whether or not nurses are earning certifications that match patient trends. For banks, the overriding concern might be staying on top of compliance. For the government, it might come down to adequate succession planning. Miller told Fortune:

A lot of people assume that the software we do is for HR. That is what it was 20 years ago. PeopleSoft was predominantly about the HR department and making their lives easier, and doing all the transactional management for HR. Talent management today—and the reason it has become so widespread, it has become a must-have even for small businesses—is not about HR. It’s about managing the business, managing the organization, and that can take many forms.

With projected revenue of $428 million to $434 million this year, Cornerstone is much smaller than the companies that Miller names as its biggest rivals in talent management—SAP (SAP) (which bought SuccessFactors in 2011) and Oracle (ORCL) (which bought HR software pioneer PeopleSoft in December 2014). Miller considers the likes of payroll giant ADP, workforce management specialist Kronos (KRO), and cloud HR company Workday (WDAY) as frenemies—sometime partners, sometime competitors.

Cornerstone’s influence is impressive. Its software is used by more than 25 million people at close to 2,700 companies, according to the company. For perspective, the entire “universe” of people using talent management applications today is around 85 million, Miller estimates. He believes there are roughly 315 million “seats” still up for grabs.

Cornerstone is becoming more entrenched with its existing customers—close to 70% of them are using two or more of its applications, usually the ones for managing skills development and ongoing career performance.

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“These two tie together really well,” Miller said. “If someone is not performing, you could punish them somehow. It’s more likely that you can train them to be better at what they’re having problems with.”

For its first quarter, which it reported May 4, Cornerstone closed multiple “eight-figure” contracts, according to Miller. While the company made its name with businesses that employ between 10,000 and 30,000 employees, more recently it has made inroads into companies with up to 400,000 people on the payroll, he said. Two of its larger customers include hospitality company Hyatt and drug store chain Walgreens.