Inside HR Tech Column

'Awesome' from the Start

For the first time, six companies just out of the gate will be showcasing some impressive solutions during a new session at this year's HR Tech.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014
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At the upcoming HR Technology ® Conference and Exposition, one of the event's highlights will once again be the Awesome New Technology session. This year, its new counterpart, the Awesome New Startups for HR session, should get a lot of attention as well.

In these sessions, representatives from 12 solution providers (six in each session) will have the chance to demonstrate their company's new, innovative and exceedingly fascinating HR technologies for the conference attendees. And while the participants in the Awesome New Technologies session (reserved this year for larger, older and more established solution providers) are likely well-known to most HR leaders, the initial crop of Awesome New Startups will likely be "new" to many of those attending. Nevertheless, each one offers compelling solutions that are setting the bar for innovation across the entire HR-technology landscape.

Since I know not all of you are able to attend this year's HR Tech conference and will not get the opportunity to see each of the Awesome New Startups demonstrate live on the main stage on HR Tech's final day, I thought I would take this last Inside HR Tech column prior to the event to at least call your attention to them - and give them the recognition they deserve. It's worth noting that there was an incredible number of startups that applied for consideration this year, further evidence that the HR-tech market remains one of the most vibrant of all technology areas.

So, without further ado, and presented in alphabetical order, since each one of these solutions is "Awesome" and this exercise is not meant to rank them or to name a "winner," here are the inaugural members of HR Tech's "Awesome New Startups for HR."

BlackbookHR - Founder and Chief Innovation Officer Chris Ostoich will be presenting BlackbookHR's new Network Insights product called "RNA." The solution provides an interactive visualization of the informational and relational networks in an organization. Insights from RNA are used to drive performance in talent optimization, change management and leadership effectiveness. This is one of the first, if not the first, technology solutions that enables organizations to see how knowledge and social networks operate inside and across organizational structures, revealing insights that traditional analysis tools and approaches often miss. It looks VERY cool!

BrandAmper - BrandAmper, led by CEO Jason Seiden, has created a unique platform that shows employees how company advocacy benefits them as individuals, gives them the opportunity to opt-in to the company's brand and uses their choices to get HR and marketing feedback on the parts of the brand that resonate with employees. The results include a stronger, clearer employer brand, tighter integration of the employer brand into the master brand, and more effective social recruiting. BrandAmper has taken on the important "What's-in-it-for-me?" question when it comes employee-brand advocacy, probably the hardest question to tackle.

Data Morphosis - CEO Sam Jones will showcase how The Data Morphosis Group designs and builds interactive, next-generation talent software that transforms human capital information into fluid, visual insight. During the session, Jones will showcase Data Morphosis' latest module, "Talent Scan" - software that takes talent strategy into the boardroom, delivering commercial advantage using best-in-class data visualization. This visualization technology and approach is unlike anything that I saw all year, and I am sure attendees at HR Tech will be amazed by its visual appeal.

Fuel50 - Anne Fulton, CEO, will demonstrate Fuel50, which, in some ways, is similar to LinkedIn for the internal organization's workforce. Fuel50 enables employees to gain a line of sight into career opportunities across their business, helps managers initiate and engage in better career conversations, and provides organizations with the tools to deliver compelling and uniquely customized career propositions to every employee, thereby impacting engagement, retention and even increased revenue per employee. Fuel50 is leading in an important and often underserved area of the HR-technology market - namely, providing value and capability for individual employees as they attempt to build their careers.

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QUEsocial - QUEsocial's Found and Chief Customer Office Patrick Rooney will provide an overview of the company's next-generation social-recruiting platform, which uniquely blends employer-branding-content distribution, gamification and analytics into an easy-to-use SaaS platform. While that sounds like quite a few recently popular recruiting buzzwords packed into one sentence, what you really need to know about QUEsocial is this - the platform actually enables and empowers an organization's social and content-driven recruiting efforts at scale, and provides insights into the effectiveness of these efforts.

Zenefits - Zenefits is a free, cloud-based solution that automates and eliminates time-consuming HR-related paperwork and gives small to medium-sized businesses a single place to manage their payroll, health insurance and other third-party systems, or use Zenefits to set up and connect with new payroll and benefits providers. Zenefits has the potential, in many ways, to significantly alter the way in which enterprise HR software is purchased and implemented.

I am really excited about this first-ever group of Awesome New Startups for HR that will be showcased. Collectively, they represent what the best HR technology solutions can promise - increased employee engagement, insight into individual and organizational performance, and enhanced capability that allows HR and business leaders to better understand talent.

These six companies are at the forefront of what continues to be a dynamic, HR-technology-solutions marketplace. Join me in congratulating these startups and wishing them well as they look to change the face of HR technology and the ways that employees, managers and leaders engage with each other.

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


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