It's a Wrap!
From awesome new HR technologies to informative conference sessions to all the networking opportunities, the 16th annual HR Technology® Conference continued a strong tradition.
By Steve Boese
The recently concluded 16th annual HR Technology® Conference reveals a thriving industry that continues to expand and innovate, leading to exciting opportunities for HR leaders to drive organizational success, supported by new technology.
The latest HR Tech conference was, by any measure that matters, the largest and best-attended one in event history. I don't mention this as a collective "Let's all pat ourselves on the back" type of gesture, but rather, to point out that the event, as a kind of bellwether of the HR technology industry overall, indicates that the options, opportunities and potential to improve HR and business outcomes enabled and supported by technology has never been greater. As HR professional Jennifer Payne observed on the Women of HR site: "The HR Technology® Conference is not just for 'systems' HR folks, it's for everyone. Or at least for everyone who is interested in keeping up with what's next for HR and the tools to make themselves and their companies more efficient and competitive."
The HR Tech Conference showcased just how exciting and vibrant the HR technology industry remains.
So here are just a few of the highlights of HR Tech 2013 from my perspective as the incoming co-chair and a longtime participant in the HR technology industry:
The Awesome New Technologies for HR
As one of the HR Technology Conference co-chairs, I had the privilege of evaluating participants for the annual "Awesome New Technologies for HR" general session. This year's selections, totaling six, all demonstrate that rare combination of technology innovation, fantastic end-user experience and applicability to help solve important business challenges.
JIBE -- Jibe expands upon its leading mobile talent-acquisition technology capability with a new recruiting-analytics solution that features real-time and location-aware heat maps, source analysis and funnel management -- all in a mobile and tablet-ready format.
Hunite -- Solving the challenge of access and ease of use of disparate HR systems, Hunite provides a unified, user-friendly and mobile-ready user-experience overlay, freeing employees to do their jobs across HR applications.
Causecast -- The next generation of the workforce cares deeply about corporate social responsibility and philanthropy, and Causecast enables organizations to better engage their employees with an innovative, social and employer-brand-building platform.
Entelo -- Entelo takes the increasingly popular social-graph-based candidate-profile concept and marries it with existing company sources of candidate data -- in an applicant-tracking system, for example -- to unlock information, insight and value from what, for many companies, is an underutilized asset.
Jobvite -- A pioneer in the now-popular "social-recruiting" space, extends and improves the ability of recruiters to find, attract and market to candidates with its new "Engage" set of tools for campaign, social and candidate-relationship management.
cFactor Works -- The most important day of an employee's tenure at an organization might be his or her first, and cfactor Works' innovative Virtual Day 1 solution provides an immersive, fun and interactive employee-orientation experience that redefines the onboarding process for the digital age.
And what's the best thing about all of these "awesome" technologies? They are all relevant and accessible for organizations of all sizes, not just the massive multinational ones.
The Conference Sessions
This year's conference sessions were, once again, full of the kind of in-depth information sharing and knowledge transfer that are essential resources for HR leaders in their quests to make the best technology decisions for their organizations. From the case studies presented by HR executives from companies including PepsiCo, Hilton, Turner Broadcasting and Goldman Sachs, to HR-technology-market-segment overviews from experts such as Josh Bersin and Elaine Orler, and finally to the thought-provoking keynotes from Don Tapscott and Jason Averbook, the program was packed with useful and actionable insights for the HR leader. The final morning of HR Tech showcased a look at the future with a demonstration of IBM's Watson, (yes, Jeopardy! winning Watson), and its potential as the ultimate HR advisor in what was a truly fascinating presentation.
The Social-Networking Buzz
There is a pretty large community of HR technology experts and enthusiasts across all the popular social networks, and, during the conference, the updates, conversations and images tagged with the "official" hashtag, #HRTechConf, took over Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. In fact, my friends at Equifax Workforce Solutions shared with me some amazing statistics about the Twitter activity. From Oct. 6 through 9, 2013, there were almost 20,000 tweets from more than 4,000 different users, with a total number of more than 166 million estimated impressions! But the larger point is that Twitter and LinkedIn are wonderful resources for HR leaders beyond the event itself. The HR Technology® Conference's LinkedIn group, the conference's Twitter hashtag, and even the Instagram feed all provide a steady stream of insight, information, commentary, analysis and links to external resources on all things HR technology.
The Networking (i.e., Parties)
A fantastic, and almost always free (for attendees), source of both fun and networking opportunities at HR Tech are the seemingly endless array of happy hours, dinners and large and flashy evening parties that are typically hosted by either the conference or by exhibiting solution providers. But the parties serve a real business purpose too, as conference speaker and HR leader Trish McFarlane recently wrote: "Seriously, the generous vendors host dinners and parties so that you can meet their teams and get to know them as people. It's a great way to not only assess a vendor by the product offering but by the type of people they hire [who] will ultimately work with you."
To sum up, I know I am not exactly unbiased in my unabashed enthusiasm and belief in the relevance and importance of HR technology for the modern organization, as well as an essential competency for the modern HR leader. But I firmly believe the very best ways to effectively and efficiently arm yourself and your organization with the tools, information, contacts and resources you need to become an HR tech expert, advocate and innovator are all on display at HR Tech.
I hope that, if you attended HR Tech this year -- or in the past -- you'll agree with me, and if you haven't, then you'll consider making plans to join your colleagues in 2014.
For more details on next year's conference, visit www.hrtechconference.com.
Steve Boese is a co-chair of HRE's HR Technology® Conference and a technology editor for LRP Publications. He also writes an HR blog and hosts the HR Happy Hour Show, a radio program and podcast. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.