HR Technology Column

Great Stuff at HR Technology®

This shamelessly self-promoting column about the HR Technology® Conference highlights why both newcomers and veterans will benefit from the show, and focuses on some favorite sessions: the first public demonstration of Oracle's Fusion HCM, various aspects of social-media and "The Great Technology Debate."

Monday, August 23, 2010
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OK, I'm the last person you should believe about the 13th Annual HR Technology® Conference opening in late September in Chicago, which you may know I program along with HRE editor Dave Shadovitz.

He and I are two of only five people -- technology guru Naomi Lee Bloom, PR queen Jeanne Achille and expo salesman Fred Kurst -- who have attended all 12 of them.

So won't you listen to the voice of experience?!?

Actually, first listen to a first-timer, Trish McFarlane, an HR partner at St. Louis Children's Hospital, and a well-known blogger as HR Ringleader.

Last year, Trish showed up for the last half day of the conference, really just for a morning TweetUp (a meeting of people who know one another mostly from Twitter) since she's not very technical. She ended up attending just one of the last breakout sessions and the closing keynote.

Despite that minimal exposure, her recent post catches perfectly the purpose of the conference since it started in 1998. Namely, to help HR executives and professionals -- sometimes nervous or ill-informed about technology -- get tech-savvy in a business environment (no bits or bytes) and to learn how to get the work benefits out of technology.

Because if you don't, you will soon be out of a job!

No one could hold an office job today without knowing how to use Microsoft Office, right? Except maybe the CEO? It's sort of like that, but harder, because HR deals with enterprise applications -- not personal productivity software -- that organizations of all sizes, from 100 employees to 2 million, use to run themselves. Read Trish's post, but then please come back here. She's great.

Many of you reading this, of course, are not the least bit nervous about technology but are mainly hungry to learn a lot more. The conference is designed for you, too.

For you, my favorite session is Oracle executive Gretchen Alarcon finally showing Oracle's new Fusion HCM. She has been leading that product strategy team since shortly after the 2004 takeover of PeopleSoft, where she used to work.

If you read last month's column, you know Oracle has been closely guarding Fusion's details for years. But it's become clear Oracle is finally letting the cat out of the bag: at HR Technology®, and the week before, in five Fusion HCM sessions at its own user conference, Oracle OpenWorld, the monster that annually devours San Francisco.

C'mon, aren't you eager to see a brand-new HR system built with the latest technology and integrating social technologies right into the applications? I am. So what if we still don't know whether Fusion is a stand-alone full HRMS or add-on SaaS applications? That's bound to become clear during Gretchen's session, which will be the only place to see Fusion at HR Technology®, not at Oracle's booth.

My next favorite session on the agenda is Twitterversity, maybe because I thought up the name, but mostly because I would have liked to have taken it myself about a year ago. It is a hands-on training class, bring your fully-charged WiFi-equipped laptop -- though we will also supply a few -- to learn all the ins and outs of Twitter.

I always laugh at other conferences grading their sessions as "Beginner -- Intermediate -- Advanced." Now, the laugh's on me. This is definitely for beginners. With Twitter, if you're not already using it, you probably consider it an enormous waste of time. And if you've just started, you might think it still is or maybe sense some great potential there, but you can't quite grab hold of it.

Our instructor is perhaps the most famous HR blogger of all, Laurie Ruettimann, who is finishing three years of writing Punk Rock HR this month. Now she's all grown up (though no taller) as co-founder of New Media Services and blogging here and there.

Despite her deliciously cynical exterior, Laurie is a marvelous, smart leader and teacher. She will be ably assisted by her very tech-savvy blogger buddies Mark Stelzner (also her business partner), Mike Krupa and Steve Boese.

Another very well-known blogger, Kris Dunn, will be moderating a Bloggers' Insights Panel. Why are all these bloggers suddenly involved with HR Technology®? The first reason is, we're simply exploiting child labor. Secondly, they represent the new voices in HR, and we should all be listening.

The way I make Twitter an asset to my career -- as well as have some fun -- is for self-promotion. (No one who knows me would be a bit surprised at that.) Whenever one of my columns goes online, I create a shortcut to it on the free service.

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Then I tweet about it with the shortcut and I can track every click on it. People who follow me read the column, and if they like it, re-tweet (RT) to all their followers. Soon people I never heard of are RTing the column to their followers. This is the essence of "viral" and is a limited example of what they told us during the AIDS epidemic: Sleep with one person and you're sleeping with everyone they've slept with and ultimately, by extension, the entire world.

Happily, Twitter involves no exchanges of bodily fluids.

The fun is going back to during this process and checking its real-time bar graph showing each time someone reads the column every 30 seconds! Was that bar I just saw moving by you? It's a kick, but nothing like the day HREOnlineTM sends out 85,000 e-mails promoting my column with the same link and the graph goes berserk. I can waste hours gazing at it.

I figure that's the new age equivalent of getting on the New York subway in the morning 25 years ago when I worked for the New York Daily News and seeing people read my stuff written the night before. Hardly the same emotional satisfaction, but the next best thing available.

Finally, the conference will feature "The Great Technology Debate" between Naomi and Gartner's Jim Holincheck. I simply don't know anyone who knows more about HR technology than these two, do you? They are the longest veterans of the Analyst Panel, which their debate is replacing, and they have very different presentation styles. Call it Northeast by Midwest.

They also have true disagreements above the level of minutia, and the questions they will debate cover the landscape from talent management and Fusion, workforce planning and analytics, and SaaS and the convergence of social software with enterprise applications.

Have a better question than those? Come ask it yourself, either at the debate or in the smaller Q&A sessions they'll be hosting in the afternoon along with three other experts.

As Workday and PeopleSoft founder Dave Duffield says, "Everyone goes to HR Technology® because everyone is there." I hope you will be, too, in Chicago.

HR Technology Columnist Bill Kutik is co-chairman of the 13th Annual HR Technology® Conference & Exposition in Chicago, Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, 2010. Many discounts expire on Friday, September 10. You can comment on this column at the Conference LinkedIn Group , which does not require prior attendance to join. He is also host of The Bill Kutik Radio Show ®. He can be reached at  

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