5 things to know about HR Tech

With the HR Tech agenda now out, the conference chair shares his vision for the 2020 event.
By: | June 2, 2020 • 3 min read
Human Resource Executive's HR Technology conference at the Venetian, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Isaac Brekken for Human Resource Executive)

As employers around the country look to reopen and begin the recovery process, many are turning to HR technology to help guide that process. From people-management tools that focus on remote workers to contact-tracing solutions, the market for HR technology has never been hotter—nor has the recognition that smart technology choices will be a major differentiator among companies that succeed and those that falter in today’s economic slowdown.

That reality will be front and center at the 2020 HR Technology Conference & Exposition®, which this week unveiled the official agenda for the event, scheduled for October in Las Vegas; if conditions don’t allow an in-person conference, a virtual event will be held.

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To find out what we can expect from this year’s conference, HRE sat down with HR Tech chair Steve Boese, who identified five emerging themes:

Coronavirus: From sessions that explore how companies are weathering the recent challenges to exhibitors showcasing innovative new tools to help employers keep their workers safe, the major global disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic will be doubtlessly felt at the conference, Boese says. “Just a few weeks ago, some of these [contact-tracing] apps didn’t even exist, and now we may have 10 companies that all just released this tech that came out of nowhere,” he says. “So, a lot of the conversations will be flavored by what’s been going on these last few months, and some of that will come out naturally, but we’re also going to explicitly do some things, too.”

AI: Boese anticipates more presentations, conversations and examples of use cases about the evolving role of artificial intelligence in HR tech. “It’s finally maturing,” he says. Boese notes that—like the incorporation of mobile a few years back—conversations around the use of AI in HR tech may start to dissipate as it becomes more expected in this space, but this year’s conference will particularly showcase its evolution—where AI has come from and where it’s expected to head.

Employee experience: There will be a particular focus on the expansion of traditional HR technology into other areas—sales, production, supply chain processes, for instance—and how important user-friendliness will be for the employee experience, Boese says. “The technology itself is getting more ubiquitous and sophisticated and it’s evolving into processes outside of HR,” he notes.

Wellbeing: This will be the primary HR story for the rest of the year, Boese predicts. From financial insecurity to anxiety and depression, the pandemic is sure to weaken overall employee wellbeing. It’s also exposed underlying vulnerabilities: financial inequality, disparate comorbidities, mental health stigma. “That’s not all entirely the responsibility of HR people,” Boese says, “but I do think business leaders will have some complicity here. We’ve talked about wellbeing for a while and put some money into it but it hasn’t necessarily been on the top of everyone’s mind—people were more often talking about recruiting, development, holding onto people—but now wellbeing is evolving pretty rapidly.”

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Analytics: As HR becomes increasingly more data-driven, analytics will continue to drive conversations at HR Tech, Boese says. In particular, the trend of large platforms offering more advanced analytics tools right within their own products—as opposed to companies seeking third-party analytics tools—is gaining steam, and will be of particular importance to smaller and mid-sized companies, especially as they look to rebound after the pandemic.

Related: See the full agenda here.

Jen Colletta is managing editor at HRE. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in writing from La Salle University in Philadelphia and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining HRE. She can be reached at hreletters@lrp.com.