Cornerstone makes an app store a big part of its API strategy

Last week, Cornerstone, a provider of cloud-based talent management applications that help companies recruit, train, manage, and connect their employees, launched Cornerstone Marketplace. This marketplace an app store that gives Cornerstone Marketplace customers a way to find and access apps, services and content using their Cornerstone accounts.

Cornerstone Marketplace is an important part of the company's API strategy, which will enable third parties to develop offerings that integrate with the Cornerstone service. At launch, the Cornerstone Marketplace features 25 different offerings from a variety of Cornerstone partners. Partners offer a variety of tools, including applications, content and services. For instance, an app from HireRight allows companies to order background screening services and an app from Citrix allows Cornerstone customers to initiate GoToMeeting training sessions.

In June, Cornerstone will begin beta testing its API with a select number of partners, and the company expects to exit beta with a public API offering next year. The offering could be a very important part of Cornerstone's future. "APIs are what I think of as the digital currency or the digital glue to what any SaaS vendor has to have," Cornerstone's VP of Corporate Strategy Jason Corsello told Diginomica's Phil Wainewright.

To ensure that it has a compelling offering, the company is taking a measured approach to development. According to Diginomica's Wainewright, as the Cornerstone API comes into focus, the Cornerstone Marketplace will also evolve to support functionality such as single sign-on and app trials.

App stores everywhere

While consumer-centric marketplaces like Apple's App Store and Google Play are most commonly associated with the phrase app store, marketplaces for applications have been steadily growing outside of the consumer internet.

Earlier this year, for instance, advertising Platform AdStage launched an app platform that gives its customers the ability to access additional functionality through applications built by third parties. Like Cornerstone, AdStage is using the marketplace model to distributing these.

For companies like AdStage and Cornerstone, the app store approach is a no-brainer: it gives customers a familiar, easy-to-use method for discovering and choosing the offerings they want to use, and it provides a built-in distribution solution for third party developers so that they don't have to worry about whether or not their creations will be seen by potential users.

But building a vibrant, successful marketplace is not without challenges. Certain kinds of platforms will have a greater opportunity to bring third party functionality into their services, and the Integration points made available to third parties must allow them to build the kinds of high-quality user experiences that customers will demand. But companies that are able to navigate these challenges will increasingly have the potential to prove that the success of the "app store" model is from just a consumer phenomenon.

Be sure to read the next Enterprise article: DreamFactory Extends RESTful API Reach