Here are some observations about the current state of HR technology and some of the issues that will be explored at this year's HR Tech conference, including the link between technology and engagement and the maturation of analytics.
By Steve Boese
As I write this, we are about two and half weeks from the official launch of the program for the 20th Annual HR Technology® Conference and Exposition, which will be held at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas from Oct. 10-13. Developing the program for the event consists of a combination of reviewing approximately 450 "official" speaking proposals, having dozens of discussions with potential speakers, attending numerous industry events to see speakers in person as well as connect with HR technology providers, and finally, attempting to read and review as many sources of HR tech industry news and information as time allows.
From all of these activities, I come up with a conference program that accurately reflects the current state of HR technology in organizations, showcases innovative and forward-looking HR and HR tech thinking, and presents an event where HR and HRIT leaders can learn, see and experience all the best of HR tech in one place.
And each year, as I close up the process of program development, I like to take a step back to examine the overall themes and concepts that have coalesced from the process in order to draw some observations and conclusions about the current (and future) state of HR technology. From that perspective, here are some key observations and themes that I have seen from this process that reveal insights into HR tech, and that act as a bit of a preview of what you can expect at the conference.
Recruiting remains critical and competitive
One consistent finding in my five years of conference programming has been that most new technologies that come across my desk are centered on recruiting. When companies are expanding and opportunities for growth often hinge on finding new talent, the need for new tools, approaches and processes to power more effective recruiting becomes essential. We will continue to explore the evolution of recruiting technology and processes at HR Tech this year, with a focus on how modern technologies are enabling organizations to succeed in meeting their recruiting objectives. One specific area we will focus on is how organizations of all sizes are approaching the design, build and integration of the assortment of recruiting technologies that are available. Additionally, expect to see an incredible array of new and innovative recruiting technologies in our Startup Pavilion as well as being featured in our "Discovering the Next Great HR Technology Company" session.
Technology powers engagement
Employee engagement remains an important subject for organizations and HR leaders, as engagement levels have remained fairly constant -- and not very high -- for many years. But this challenge also represents an opportunity and many HR technology providers have developed solutions to address these challenges.
At HR Tech, we will explore this topic in several ways. We will assemble employee-engagement experts as well as the leading solution providers that are impacting the employee-engagement issue and that are helping organizations approach employee engagement on several fronts. Executives from leading technology providers of solutions as diverse as wellness/wellbeing, performance and talent management, and total compensation and rewards will address the fundamental question of "Can HR technology drive improved employee engagement?" This conversation will be an important one, as it will set the stage for additional content and discussions about how specific technologies and strategies are impacting engagement in organizations. We had significant interest from both organizations and technology providers on the employee engagement subject this year, so you can be sure it will be a featured component at the Conference.
Analytics are maturing
The "data and analytics" conversations and case studies that will be presented at this year's HR Tech will reflect a maturing of this focus area -- both in the analytics technologies themselves and in how they are being applied in many of the world's leading organizations. The early steps into HR and workforce analytics were largely centered on moving from basic HR and "people" reporting toward more sophisticated dashboards and data visualizations. While this initial shift served to make data and metrics more widely available in organizations, they were only the first steps for organizations to become more data-driven in their people management. In this year's program, we will learn about the continuing evolution and the increasingly sophisticated application of technologies taking the organization past simply "reporting" and visualization and into true predictive analytics and real-time decision support.
Trying to get a sense of all the innovations, new developments and opportunities for HR leaders that HR tech can provide is a tough challenge for organizations today. Each year there seem to be more providers, new HR technology categories are created and almost continuous innovation and consolidation in the market makes it tough for HR leaders to keep up. And "keeping up" isn't really the goal anyway. The goal is to be informed, educated, and prepared to make the best HR technology decisions for the organization. Take a look at the HR Tech program that is going to be released soon and let me know what you think.
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.