INTERNET OF CAREERS™: in conversation with Ike Bennion of Cornerstone

Ike Bennion is a product marketing strategist for Cornerstone, which includes market analysis and strategy development for learning products. He has written and presented on various HR functions, including Artificial Intelligence, learning, performance, recruitment, content, and benefit strategy. Focused on helping organizations realize the power of their people, Cornerstone is a founding member of the Velocity Network, which puts people in control of their data by helping them accumulate a digital wallet filled with their validated experiences, skills, certifications and licenses, and more.


We’re delighted that Cornerstone has joined us as a founding member of the Velocity Network Foundation. Tell us why you believe a vendor-agnostic consortium will advance the “Internet of Careers” and what you hope to achieve as part of this organization.


For blockchain to realize its full potential, it has to be open and transparent. It can’t be limited to a single value proposition from a single company because that’s to assume a single company will manage blockchain efficiently. A vendor-agnostic consortium is essential to make sure data and HR providers can integrate the tech capabilities throughout their platforms. For example, you can take one dollar and know it will be valuable and useful and realize its full potential by ensuring it has the same worth no matter where it takes it.



Ike, today looks nothing like yesterday. How do you see your participation in the Velocity Network, enabling you to help organizations navigate the new normal?


There was already a global skills shortage, and technology is stretching careers more than ever before. The fundamental things you need to know about a person – who they are, what their professional background is – haven’t changed. Roles have changed, though, as well as the increased ability to see an individual’s potential when matching them to a job. Not only do you need more insight into the positions they’ve previously held, but you also need visibility into their learning accomplishments. By having more rich data across the person’s background, you can see what someone has done to develop themselves and how that might add value to the organization. That’s where the power of blockchain – especially their digital self-sovereign identity – becomes invaluable.



What’s the importance of self-sovereign identity as it relates to how workers manage their careers?


Even with all the evolution of technology, the resume is a persistent tool to communicate someone’s worthiness or strategic value. And, a lot of research shows that the resume is a really bad way to do that – it doesn’t tell the story of someone’s value. Self-sovereign identity through blockchain gives people the opportunity to tell their story – it’s crucial to the future of work. We need to close the skills gap to ensure we can develop people and match them to strategic roles.



How do you see the use of analytics and AI changing when individuals are in control of their now comprehensive, validated career profiles?


There’s a unique ability now that hasn’t been both human-readable and machine-readable previously. There’s now potential to help AI make better recommendations – that should happen on day one based on what credentials they’ve provided to the system. We can help build a continuous stream of learning, and blockchain fills the gaps. Managing data and making it useful for AI is a problem. Right now, it’s still in a rudimentary sense – data that identifies objects that are unique allows for a pathway to more sophisticated AI models.



Cornerstone helps organizations re-skill and upskill their workforces. How is this particularly relevant during these turbulent times?


Companies and their employees are having challenges supporting business operations and, overall, there’s a lack of transparency between employers and employees. For employees, there isn’t strong clarity into which skills they should invest in. For companies, they’re looking at the world through jobs; yet, jobs are a collection of skills. The frustration is right now, I can build a skill, but I can’t put it on a resume. Blockchain helps bridge this divide.

Foundationally speaking, at Cornerstone, we acquired an AI-powered skills engine that has a library of 55,000 verified skills. Not only does this give organizations clear insight into their employees’ current skills and capabilities to match them to specific roles, but employees also gain a better understanding of the skills required for a position. It also helps to validate that skill set, including reviews from peers, managers, and work I’ve done, you can certify a skill. It provides a layer of depth and richness of info about what a worker brings.



Why is blockchain relevant to Cornerstone’s product development roadmap? Have your customers been asking about it?


They have, and a group of clients is already testing use cases. There’s lots of interest based on the projects they are working on. Many companies are looking to solve for talent mobility internally, especially linking potential successors to positions. Once we can certify the skills required via blockchain, you can identify who can be developed to fill a specific role or show an employee what positions they might consider. This business imperative feeds directly into blockchain’s role in our roadmap. It also provides more weight towards self-directed development for employees – it draws the correlation between the skills I develop and my true value to my employer.

Cornerstone recently reported an increase in online learning courses as more organizations transitioned to remote working. It’s more than significant. We’ve already seen an uptick of 27 million hours of learning since shelter-at-home status started. In times of crisis, information is a powerful tool. Imagine how having learning captured in one’s portable digital profile conveys a clear picture of what an employee has accomplished during this time. And, as new learning objects are created – such as leading teams through a crisis – it benefits both the employer and the employee.




Cornerstone is a premier people development company. We believe people can achieve anything when they have the right development and growth opportunities. We offer organizations the technology, content, expertise and specialized focus to help them realize the potential of their people. Featuring comprehensive recruiting, personalized learning, modern training content, development-driven performance management and holistic employee data management and insights, Cornerstone’s people development solutions are used by approximately 7,000 clients of all sizes, spanning more than 75 million users across over 180 countries and 50+ languages. Learn more at