EdCast Launches Intelligent Career Mobility: Talent Management Has Radically Changed

This week EdCast joins the list of vendors who announced products for intelligent talent mobility, career pathing, skills matching, and talent marketplace. It’s a big move by Edcast (putting them directly in the mix with Workday, Gloat, Degreed, Fuel50, Eightfold.ai, and others), but it also points to something bigger: the market for talent management software is going through radical disruption.

First, a little background on EdCast. This company is one of the leaders in the Learning Experience Platform (LXP) market, growing at over 50% per year, competing directly with Degreed. The company was founded by Karl Mehta, a software entrepreneur, and he has built a strong team of software engineers and data scientists who are laser-focused on making it easier than ever to learn, find information, and grow.

In a different focus than Degreed, EdCast’s vision has focused on the broad problem of knowledge discovery (Degreed has been focused primarily on training and skills) so the company’s technology includes tools for learning, knowledge discovery, expert discovery, digital adoption, as well as more traditional learning paths and curricula. The company acquired Leapest last year (to add LMS functionality) and is deeply partnered with Emsi (one of the leading providers of end-to-end skills data) to create a well-organized taxonomy of skills in the system.

(To give you a sense of EdCast’s potential: GenPact, one of the largest consulting firms in India, connects EdCast to Microsoft Teams and has served more than 100,000 users consuming 600,000 hours of training just this year.)

In this new set of features, EdCast is introducing career paths, job matching, and what I call “intelligent talent mobility.” In other words, you can now go into EdCast and find a job (or project) inside your company that is well suited to your skills or the skills you want to build. EdCast provides a matching algorithm that shows you the “percent match” with this job so you can see how much of a stretch it would be to apply for a given position. And the company has licensed the Emsi skills model (and others) and plans to maintain a complete global skills taxonomy over time.

edcast career pathing

Broader than this, EdCast can show you the “relative match” of skills for a given job. While this is certainly not a complete picture needed (experiences, location, and many other factors weigh into job fit), this type of analysis can eventually replace 9-box grids and traditional succession management.

Many other vendors are working on this, including Gloat (InnerMobility), Workday (Talent Marketplace) as well as Eightfold.ai,  Degreed, Fuel50, and others. (A list of vendors is shown below.) In the case of EdCast this announcement is significant because now the two biggest LXP vendors (EdCast and Degreed) have officially moved into the Talent Marketplace arena. Companies can now consider EdCast an end-to-end skills development, learning, and career management platform.

Talent Marketplace Vendors

Second point: how does this approach radically change Talent Management?

If we go back a few decades and look at how companies have managed people, we have to remember the old GE model of work. (The new book “Lights Out” will show you why GE’s model is not one to be admired these days, but that’s another story.) 

In that model, which forms the foundation of business and organization design, people are hired to “fill jobs” – we take a job, do the work, try to learn to be better over time, and hope for a promotion. In my case, I spent almost 30 years in these “jobs” and in each case, I had a manager (some good, some not so good) who told me when I was ready for a raise, promotion, or new responsibility.

This idea of “managing talent” and leaders “managing people’s careers” has been the basis for billions of dollars of HR systems, books, articles, and management education. And it’s based on the idea of a hierarchy – the assumption that a more senior person “knows more” about your career and potential than you do.

Guess what. We can now throw that philosophy aside. Do managers really know what job is best for you, when you are ready for a promotion, or what you should learn next? Perhaps, but often I doubt it. In today’s organization managers are paid to “get work done” and “facilitate the execution of teams” – they are usually not experts at careers, identifying the potential in each individual, and studying the future of jobs, skills, and opportunities in the broader marketplace. We all have to do this on our own.

So what does “talent management” mean? We are moving to a Marketplace Model – where “buyers” and “sellers” of talent match themselves up based on demand, supply, and need. As I described in a recent article about job architecture, it’s time for a whole new organizational strategy: one based on dynamic work, not static jobs.

Think about how “marketplaces” work in other parts of our life. In eBay or Amazon when there is high demand for a product, the price goes up. When the product is no longer in demand, the price goes down. If you’re a product builder or creator, you can study the features you need (ie. the skills you need) based on demand for product features, and you can immediately see what to build. We don’t just “build things” and hope people will buy them – we test them in the marketplace, and the marketplace “votes” on what people want, what people value, and what people will pay for.

This is how organizations are starting to function today. As the Pandemic has taught us, right now we need people who can jump into new roles, work from home, move into customer service, and quickly adapt to new customer needs. Airlines are trying to figure out if pilots can become systems engineers. Banks are realizing that branch service reps may make good financial advisors. And healthcare providers are trying to teach highly specialized doctors and practitioners to work in COVID wards and other e-medicine jobs.

These changes are not “managed” by managers – they’re created by the marketplace at frightening speed. Every company is “creating jobs” every day, and often “sunsetting jobs” at the same time. When I was running our research business we found “new projects” appearing almost every week, and we would scratch our heads to figure out who in the company had the time, skills, and interest in working on them. With about 100 employees I had a pretty good idea who could do what – but my real knowledge was quite limited. If we had a talent marketplace it would have been far easier.

This idea is now sweeping across every company. Rather than “manage the talent” one leader at a time, let’s open up the network and make it easier than ever for people to promote their skills, look for new jobs, and offer up their services to others in the company.

I’m not saying this is easy. There are many issues still to be figured out: what is the role of the manager in the process? How do we set pay when people jump into a new domain? Who is responsible for performance management as people move? And how does a manager decide between an internal candidate and an expert in the outside market?

I would suggest that all these issues are being figured out now – and much of this is accelerated by the Pandemic. I’ve been studying the market for internal talent mobility for over a decade and companies have always known that 9-box grids, HIPO charts, and leader-gated progression had problems. The old model was filled with politics, lack of diversity, favoritism, and a major lack of information on real skills and capabilities. And job architectures are a never-ending headache, often far more complex than companies need.

This new world of “talent marketplace” can effectively address this over time.

As I’ve discussed, companies like Unilever, Schneider Electric, Cisco, IBM, Societe Generale, and others are adopting this new model. Moving to an internal marketplace for talent has huge benefits and is now changing management practices, HR, and the market for HR technology.