Vegas and The Learning Conference Scene

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I’m here. Sitting in another hotel, typing a post with a high burner speed of 30mbs. A speed that costs over 30 bucks a day. A speed, that for someone whose home speed is 1GB, must remember this is Vegas.

Another hotel. Sandwiched between two conferences. This past week, Cornerstone Convergence (more on what I saw, screens, etc.) and soon-to-be DevLearn.

Another hotel. Three to be exact.

All on the Vegas strip. There is something about Las Vegas, NV. that draws people. The gambling capital of the world is one. Shows are another. Food, sure, depending on what you fancy or desire. For those who oversee conventions, it is a guaranteed place for large attendee gatherings, compared to some other cities, which are less so.

Vegas, of course, comes at a price. The days of the $3.99 buffet and a hotel stay that won’t cost a small fortune are gone. At one time, the Bellagio buffet of $39.99 was considered – unbelieve in terms of price, but the quality was exceptional. Today? That price point is low. The fact the buffet is back in the post-pandemic world is nothing short of impressive or consternation, depending on your perspective. At one establishment, the buffet for one runs $68 USD before tax and service fee (the bonus you get).

A hotel stays especially during convention week (regardless of whether it is your conference) will drive up the prices on the strip, especially in the center of it. The Mirage where DevLearn is being held, for four nights, was pushing 3K. If you booked say four months ago, it was going in around 1.5K (for the standard room, King bed). Still high for the Mirage. Sure you can stay at Circus Circus for around 64 dollars a night, but CC isn’t a place I’d recommend unless it is 1967 (Westward HO, RIP).

A surreal experience awaits anyone who comes to Vegas for a convention, especially those in the learning and training communities. It makes Orlando seem like an afterthought (I despise going to Orlando for a trade show, travel there is not kind to folks out west). Yet there is something there, something that grabs hold and takes you on a journey of discovery, exploration, and acquirement of knowledge.

Attending Cornerstone Convergence held at Resort Worlds (the Frontier was one property that once stood there), brought out some intrigue and in my case, well, me.

I wrote down 23 questions I wanted to ask the executives during analyst day and the other days when I had one on one meetings.

I jotted down my notes, took some photos (you will see some), recorded a short video or two of presentations of interest, and asked attendees – customers of Cornerstone their thoughts of the show and what they saw. I walked around the expo of partners and explored even more.

23 questions. Screens of new solutions, updated UI/UX including metrics, and diving more into skills studio and content.

Overall, I love where Cornerstone is going with learning. While I disagree with the L&D-only focus (ignoring training – as though L&D is the only entity around), I found that the latest version of Cornerstone CSX (Learn – LMS), is going in the right direction. The tags of traditional and legacy are nothing more than marketing spin by competitors who believe an LMS is an outdated solution best left behind.

I have always disagreed with that premise. An LMS can be as good or as bad as a learning platform, a PXP, LXP, skills-focused, or whatever someone wants to call their learning system. Cornerstone’s LMS is ideal for those in the mid-market, Enterprise (5,000 and up), and Large Enterprise space. I do not see it for small businesses (999 or less) or customer education. It lacks some items on CE, plus you can’t say L&D focus and believe customer education/partner training folks are going to jump right in.

Did I let them know that? Absolutely. And it was one of my questions.

A few more.

One minus I’ve always found with Cornerstone CSX is their analytics UI/UX. For a system and a company worth an estimated 1B dollars, the UX for metrics should be impressive borderline unbelievable. However, time after time, it just was dated, as though Lotus 1-2-3 was making a comeback.

In the newest version (target launch is Nov/Dec 2022), an “intelligent board” makes its debut. With a wide selection of widgets available, an administrator can see some instant data, with a UX and UI that is fresh, and modern.

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Definitely an uptick. It’s not perfect, but compared to previous versions, it is a huge win. The intelligence board in fact, was a very nice treat.

Skills studio comes with CSX, another question I had – which means you get access to over 50,000 skills in the system. You can add Skill Graph, too, which is nice. The API is available to anyone who has Skill Graph and there is even a Skill Graph community – something I am a fan of.

With Skills Studio, you can select your own skills with a very intuitive design

Content Studio

Cornerstone CSX still doesn’t come with a built-in authoring tool, a reason my guess, is the presumption that the client already has one, but then with CSX comes Content Studio, the name of which adds to some confusion.

I love the look, modern and fresh. Of course, if you do not purchase any 3rd party content/off-the-shelf or purchase content anytime (name to be rebranded), you won’t be seeing much – besides your own content.

Cornerstone owns Grovo, and mentions often that with the Grovo content you can edit it and add your own stuff, change, etc. Great, but why charge extra for Grovo? The biggest selling point is the ability to change the content, something that isn’t the case with the majority of 3rd party providers. My suggestion is simple – include it at no charge to the client, when they buy Cornerstone CSX. Not an upgrade, included it.

EdCast has an alphabetical acronym, but I can’t recall. It can be purchased – EdCast as a standalone or as part of CSX. I found that when added as a module with CSX, some capabilities could be pushed even farther. EdCast though still lacks an LRS, for those who are wondering. However, the bookmark extension, elite appearance in MS Teams is all there.

Missed Opps

Cornerstone like the majority of learning systems on the market, uses an algorithm for predictive including recommendations of content. However, if you do not complete the content, the algorithm is negatively impacted. Thus, you have to complete. They are not the only vendor who goes against why WBT was established in the first place but having an impact (negatively) will ensure that your data – recommendations is misleading. Following my post on LinkedIn, I spoke with a Cornerstone executive who told me they are going to review the algorithm and see what changes they can do – so that this negative impact doesn’t occur. I can’t be sure the change will be made with the November release, but it was clear that something was going to get done in the coming year.

The mobile app though – you still cannot white-label it (other vendors offer this, always fee-based), and while the metrics are moving in the right way, there are still areas to push.

SumTotal

For SumTotal clients and/or those considering SumTotal, rest assured that Cornerstone will continue to invest in the system, including learning. And if you are someone who still wants Saba, it is available – you just can’t find or see it on their web site – so you have to ask for it. I met one attendee who has Saba Cloud and EdCast, so its doable.

Last Thoughts

Cornerstone CSX has vastly improved, that was my key takeaway from the event. A crisper look. A better vibe – modern, fresh, with a finished UX to boot.

One feature that caught my eyes was the ability to upload a resume and the system can extract what skills that person has from it – into the system. From my understanding this is not part of CSX, rather it is from recruiting (another module).

I mention it because if you can upload a resume to extract that information, just think what might be possible for learning with the right materials being uploaded or integrated.

Bottom Line

Two weeks.

Three hotels.

DevLearn is here.

And soon, I’ll be there

too.

E-Learning 24/7

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