The 2015 HR Technology Conference just wrapped and it is time to collect my thoughts and reflect on the event. First, thank you to Steve Boese and David Shadovitz for the work you do creating the event. Thank you also to the team at LRP for selecting me as a speaker this year and for all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into producing an event of this caliber. Even though I don’t work for LRP, although some think I do, it is an honor to be part of such a stellar event.
I attended as a speaker and an analyst this year. I tried to make the most of my analyst time by visiting with as many solution providers as possible, mostly in the Expo Hall, which enables me to have advisory discussions with HR leaders throughout the rest of the year. I also attended some great sessions like the Awesome New Technologies session and the Awesome New Startups session. Both showcase the best of what we can expect from the world of HCM technology and it’s exciting to watch the transformation of our industry. That said, I have ten things I am taking away from this year’s event.
Top 10 Takeaways
- Compliance reigns- If you listen to some of the sessions and some of the leaders of various solution providers, you may believe that compliance is dead, or at least being killed off. But much like your favorite character from a soap opera, compliance is not only not dead, it’s stronger than ever. As a former HR leader, ensuring the compliance was being handled properly was what helped me sleep at night. Knowing that risk was mitigated and that we had all the regulations met let me focus time on more of the “fun HR” strategies. After talking to numerous vendors who strive to help keep your business in compliance so that you are freed up to work on other things, I’m excited to see that this is truly achievable for today’s HR pros. Hat tip to Equifax Workforce Solutions and Talentwise for what you all have going on this year as well as what you’re doing in 2016!
- Move to Human- It’s interesting to hear who is more concerned with the bits and bytes and who is focused on people. I know it’s a HR technology conference, however, those companies and speakers who focused more on the people….the human side of HR….were the winners in my eyes. As I walked through the Expo Hall, I tried to pay special attention to the providers who talked more about the actual people and the benefit of the tools for the people than those who talked about features. Several providers stood out in this area for me: Ultimate Software, Silkroad and Globoforce. Kudos for keeping the people front-and-center as you enter 2016!
- Marketplaces are the Future- This was the first year that one of the main buzzwords I heard was “marketplace”. Giving employees and leaders the opportunities to make choices easier when it comes to a variety of solutions was refreshing. Two standouts here were ADP and the ADP Marketplace showcased during Awesome New Technologies. The second was PlanSource and their benefits marketplace. I can’t wait to see how organizations embrace all the offerings.
- Opportunities for the Cloud- For several years, talk has made it seem like everyone had already moved to the cloud. As analysts, we know that this is not the case….YET. The movement is certainly picking up and for me, the take away is that solution providers need to keep reminding themselves that NOT EVERYONE is there yet. Give these organizational leaders time.
- Some Buzzwords are Overly Ambitious- If I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrases “machine learning” or “predictive analytics”, I’d have left Las Vegas richer than if I’d played Craps. I’m all for talking about the workplace of 2020 or 2025, however, don’t forget that many HR leaders and teams are still trying to find solutions to bring all their people data together. Others are a step farther and can actually run reports on that data and make some recommendations. Thinking that HR pros have all the tools needed to embrace prediction is overly ambitious. The same goes for machine learning. We are taking baby steps as organizations.
- Startups push the Established Vendors- One of the most exciting things for me during this event was the opportunity to connect with some very exciting startups. From having the opportunity to answer questions for the startup community at HR Tech Tank on Sunday to spending time talking to entrepreneurs in the Startup Pavillion, I was energized. Two standouts for me were Bridge US and Elevated Careers by eHarmony. These two are doing great things and should be on your watch list for 2016. It will be interesting to see how the more established providers react to some of the new ideas startups are pursuing.
- Not everyone in HR wants to do it all- One topic that came up in a session I led was the disagreement on just how much a HR leader wants to do or has time to do. For example, I think it is a great idea to have technology implementation that is faster and easier. However, providers need to keep in mind that you have HR leaders who may not have time to implement this technology and that they want to pay you to do it. They also need options for customized service from you because they may not fully understand how to purchase and implement a technology. This is by no means a knock on HR pros….this is just a gentle reminder that sometimes, we all need to have a helping hand or be taken care of….even HR pros.
- Education = Comfort- Whether it’s buying a technology, implementing a technology or just learning how to be a better HR leader, attendees want education. The job HR leaders face is a challenging one and whether it’s through sessions at the event, discussions at a booth, or once they return back to their offices, they need ongoing education and support in order to be comfortable with technology. An organization that is making strides on providing education for HR leaders is Peoplefluent. I am glad to see their focus not only on the tools to help HR, but in making them comfortable.
- HR needs help with Internal Communications- The primary way that HR teams communicate with employees and leaders is via email. This is changing. As HCM solutions begin to offer new avenues for communication in organizations, they should also offer more in the way of templates or service offerings on the communications to be shared. Several providers are now offering solid resources. A couple I liked were from Oracle and Successfactors.
- Approachability trumps formality- My final takeaway is around the way not only the event works, but how business works. I am hearing feedback that people value the ability to be approachable far more than being formal. Whether you’re a speaker or a provider, spend time planning how to make yourself and your organization more approachable. Those of us in the HCM technology space are far more comfortable than the average HR buyer. Let’s make them feel welcome.
So, those were my top takeaways. If you attended, what were yours? Be sure to share them in the comments section.