5 Things I’m Looking Forward to at HR Tech

This is the last Inside HR Tech column prior to the HR Tech Conference in September and, since I am pretty well consumed at this point with the final plans for the event, I want to use this space to reflect on the HR-tech market and the themes that have emerged during this year’s planning for the event.

  1. Great HR is simple and complex at the same time.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the last several weeks working on one of our featured sessions, “What It Takes to be a Most Admired Company for HR,” a panel discussion featuring the CHROs from several of the world’s most well-known and successful companies (Delta Airlines, Walt Disney Co. and Accenture, to name a few). After talking with each of these CHROs about their business, their challenges, and their approaches and philosophies about the role of HR, I’ve noticed two important things. One is that every one of these leaders spent most of our conversation talking about their company’s culture and the role of HR and the CHRO in building, strengthening and promoting their culture. The other is that, while each CHRO focuses intently on culture, how that manifests in specific HR and talent practices and programs is very different in each organization.

  1. Succeeding with HR technology is paramount for HR.

I talk with many executives from the leading HR-technology-solution providers and, in the past year or two, the phrase “customer success” has come up more than ever. Now that cloud-based SaaS delivery of HR technology is the de facto industry standard, providers have been forced to focus on the success of their customers as a primary driver and metric. While that focus is a positive development for customers, it is not enough to ensure your organization is truly set up to succeed. And since the HR-tech market keeps growing, even understanding your options is becoming more difficult. This complexity and the importance of customer success with HR tech are why we focus so heavily on this topic at HR Tech, with a series of expert sessions covering both the “functional” elements of success (such as business case, vendor selection and implementation teams) as well as the more “technical” aspects (including cloud migration, integration and testing). These sessions are designed to provide important insights and ideas focused on helping your organization succeed.

  1. The impact of AI on HR technology

If there was one term I heard the most this year in the HR-tech market, it was artificial intelligence. It seems like just about every established HR-tech-solution provider has been introducing AI capabilities into their platforms–and half, if not more, of the HR-tech startups are touting some type of new AI in their offerings. But simply hearing the phrase “artificial intelligence” over and over doesn’t make the concept any more real or any easier to learn how to apply it for HR leaders. At HR Tech, we are devoting considerable time and attention to AI in HR tech in all its forms. We will explain and introduce the concepts for those leaders just diving into the topic, showcase the most interesting HR-tech solutions leveraging AI, and share some ideas and best practices for evaluating AI technology. You need to know how AI will potentially impact your HR solutions and services, and HR Tech has you covered.

  1. Understanding the HR tech market is critical for HR leaders.

The HR Tech Expo will feature more than 400 HR-technology-solution providers, covering all of the functional areas of HR tech: payroll, benefits, talent management, talent acquisition, workforce planning, AI and more. The market for HR-technology solutions has never been more exciting, but that also makes it more difficult to navigate. The HR Tech Expo can be a little daunting for first-time attendees, especially as HR leaders grapple with specific areas of interest and organizational needs. With that in mind, this year we will feature a series of “Market Landscape” sessions covering the major functional categories of HR technology presented by independent HR-tech experts. These sessions will give HR leaders a solid understanding of the HR-technology market to better prepare them for not only navigating the expo, but also launching their HR-technology initiatives.

  1. Innovation in HR technology continues in the startup world.

Finally, I wanted to highlight the continued investment and innovation being driven by the startup community. We will have 60 HR-technology startups demonstrating their solutions in our Startup Pavilion (30 of them will also participate in our first annual HR Tech Pitchfest) and a general session where the Pitchfest winner and four other companies will vie for the coveted title of “The Next Great HR Technology Company.” If you are an HR leader looking at the latest tools on the market to help you solve an HR or talent challenge that you’ve been unable to address with traditional HR solutions, HR Tech will provide you will literally dozens of new, innovative solutions to explore.

I’ve been involved in the planning of the conference for several years now, and I always relish the opportunity to help create an experience that will be of value to HR, HRIT and business leaders who are all seeking innovative ways to meet their most pressing talent and business challenges. The event keeps growing, the HR-tech market is more vibrant and dynamic than ever, and HR leaders need to maximize their investments in HR tech. HR Tech is the best resource in the world to help these leaders meet and overcome these challenges.

Steve Boese, HR Tech Conference chair
Steve Boese
Steve Boese is HRE's Inside HR Tech columnist and chair of HRE’s HR Technology Conference®. He also writes a blog and hosts the HR Happy Hour Show, a radio program and podcast. He can be emailed at sboese@lrp.com.