Inside HR Tech Column

The Power to Transform

A quick review of this year's HR Tech Conference program reveals several themes that are changing the HR landscape.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015
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As I talk with HR leaders from all types of organizations, see demonstrations of the latest HR technology innovations, and look at the significant rise in innovation and in venture-capital funding funneling toward HR-technology solutions, there is no doubt in my mind that understanding and effectively deploying HR technology continues to increase in importance for today's HR leaders.

In last year's HR Technology ® Conference and Exposition preview column, I stated that success or failure for all types of organizations today are being determined and defined, in large measure, by their abilities to understand, adapt and derive competitive advantage through people, powered by technology. In 2015, I stand by that assertion. Organizations of all sizes now have access to powerful technology solutions in support of all the functional areas of HR. It will be incumbent upon the HR leader of 2015 and beyond to make the best technology choices in order to successfully develop and execute the organization's people and talent-management strategies.

When I review and reflect on this year's HR Tech conference program, several key themes emerge:

Data and analytics continue to drive HR and talent management.

A continuing theme in 2015 has been the realization and maturation of the importance of bringing more analytical approaches and rigor into the HR discipline. The importance of data; the strategies to gather, compile, assess, and make meaning from that data; the role technology plays in support of these efforts, and the ways that data enhances our understanding of people and talent will be explored at this year's event. Large organizations such as IBM, Unilever and Wawa Inc. are using data, analytics and the modern tools that have become increasingly available for HR and business leaders to efficiently manage this barrage of data and, in time, make more effective and efficient people decisions and set talent strategies.

We will also hear how analytics are being directly applied in specific functional domains such as recruiting, learning and succession planning, and are not just being carried out for their own sake.

Finally, the popular "Awesome New Technologies" demonstration sessions will once more have a heavy data and analytics slant. Many of the new innovations that will be presented showcase new ways to capture, present, analyze and make actionable HR and workforce data.

HR is moving beyond the internal halls of traditional HR.

Building on a theme from 2014, the HR Tech Conference program will once again reflect the continued confluence of marketing, social media and technology with HR, and how these trends are being exploited in functions such as talent acquisition, employer branding and employee engagement. The program lineup will feature interactive panel discussions and conversations with HR, business and talent-acquisition leaders from organizations such as Glassdoor, Cisco, United Health Group and Marriott on the ways modern HR is advancing the application of best practices, borrowed from classic consumer-marketing approaches, to execute talent strategies.

Whether connecting with potential candidates on the most cutting-edge social-networking sites, activating communities of internal employees as brand ambassadors and champions, or simply utilizing technology to help create, support and activate the organization's unique company culture to help drive increased employee engagement, HR leaders-supported by innovative technologies-are taking more and more from the marketing playbook each year. Attendees will hear how some of the biggest brands in the world are having success in this new world of marketing influenced HR.

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Technology is the catalyst and enabler of business transformation.

How HR technology can serve as a critical element and even the catalyst for greater organizational transformation will be represented in several interesting ways and contexts at the event in October. Examples include large organizations such as MGM Resorts, Allstate and Hudson's Bay Co. All will be there to share how they've used technology to increase operational efficiency, harmonize business processes and empower employees in their career-development efforts while supporting managers in their efforts to create high-functioning teams.

Others are smaller, fast-moving organizations such as Rackspace, LivingSocial and, which are truly representing the leading edge of what is possible through HR technology. While the specifics of the HR technologies that these organizations have deployed, and the individual business and strategic objectives they are meant to address, differ in all these examples (expansion, rapid growth, need to compete for hard-to-find talent, etc.), the underlying business-transformation messages are consistent. HR technologies are providing organizations with the tools they need to execute on business and strategic objectives that would be almost impossible to otherwise achieve.

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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