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HR Tech: All about making connections

Jill Barthhttps://hrexecutive.com/
Jill Barth is HR Tech Editor of Human Resource Executive. She is an award-winning journalist with bylines in Forbes, USA Today and other international publications. With a background in communications, media, B2B ecommerce and the workplace, she also served as a consultant with Gallagher Benefit Services for nearly a decade. Reach out at [email protected].

Meeting at HR Tech this week in Las Vegas is as much about person-to-person conversations as it is about technology. In fact, engagement has brought together tens of thousands of industry colleagues from around the world. In related news, there’s an interesting project from Polinode demonstrating “People Also Viewed” data from LinkedIn to map a network based on HRE’s 2023 Top 100 HR Tech Influencers.

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This is an exciting look at HR tech connections that reveals more potential Influencers for the list, as well as the power of digitally mapped networks. See the list and learn more about the project here. While at HR Tech, visit the Polinode booth 1433 to see an interactive version of the network.

Getting connected or building connections?

Attendees gathered this morning for a pre-conference session with Jason Averbook and Alex Zea of Mercer | Leapgen to learn about approaching the workforce experience with a digital mindset. “There is a big difference between getting connected and building connections,” said Jason Averbook.

It’s not merely a business process, according to the Mercer | Leapgen duo; it’s also a digital flow journey. Averbook emphasized that HR leaders should be at the forefront of shaping the digital strategy, crafting the agenda with a cohesive leadership team vision. Averbook’s first action item for HR executives: engage their team in defining what “digital-first” means to them, because true alignment on this concept is paramount.

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Reflecting on recent decades, Averbook notes that between 2000 and 2020, plenty of emerging HR technology was available, but work processes remained largely unchanged. However, between 2020 and 2023, technology advanced and utilization thrived in an era of forced shifts in working methods. In a matter of months, generative AI, for example, transitioned from being virtually non-existent to becoming a prominent fixture on the tech horizon. Averbook highlights this remarkable leap, asking, “Has there ever been a technology that evolved so swiftly?”

The widespread awareness of AI and other cutting-edge technologies in the workforce brings about a fundamental shift in how we approach EX. As Averbook points out, “Outside of work, it feels like we are humans, inside of work, it feels like we are users.” This distinction underscores the need to prioritize human experience over mere user experience. Change has become the norm, which carries significant implications for Employee Experience (EX). To thrive, HR teams must shift away from the mindset of treating employees as mere users of technology to providing them with a more holistic human experience.

Digital transformation is not solely about adopting new technologies; it’s about embracing a new way of working and thinking. Zea agrees, emphasizing that technology is simply a set of tools that enable a broader digital approach. True digital transformation involves delivering personalized and meaningful services at scale. She warns against buying and implementing new technology without engaging the people and teams that are able to promote, use and champion it with a shared vision of success.

Innovation Summit kicks off

HR Tech Conference Monday schedule
HR Tech Monday schedule

George LaRocque, Innovation Summit chair and founder of WorkTech, led the keynote for the start of the event. The inaugural gathering brings together movers and shakers in HR tech market adoption, global investment and M&A activity. The first of several panels took place this morning, including a talk from early-stage investors and tech founders.

Attendees heard from Jason Corsello of Acadian Ventures, Bill Filip of Delancey Street Partners, Gareth Jones of Impact WorkTech Accelerator and Thomas International and Caitlin MacGregor of Plum. More to come Tuesday with a corporate development and M&A group session plus a panel of talent acquisition firm CEOs.

How’s your AI maturity?

In another pre-conference workshop on Monday, i4cp’s Kevin Oakes and Katheryn Brekken laid out the organization’s Generational AI Maturity Model and then encouraged attendees to consider and discuss where their employer sits on the scale.

The model, based on recent i4cp research, proposes three levels of maturity as organizations face the disruption that AI inevitably will bring–both to work and to culture, according to Oakes, CEO of i4cp, and Brekken, senior research analyst.

The levels, presented during the session titled “Building a Healthy, Productive and AI-Fueled Culture,” are:

AI Laggards. These companies so far have no policy and have offered no clear guidance on generative AI use within the organization, have few if any safeguards around its use, and have “almost no HR readiness,” Brekken said.

AI Enquirers. These organizations are farther ahead, though they are primarily in “wait-and-see mode,” have no or very few policies about AI use, discourage its use and have low levels of HR readiness, Brekken said.

AI Innovators. This group is leading the way. The organizations have embraced thoughtful AI use and experimentation, have instituted parameters and policies for AI use, probably have an internal instance of generativity and, overall, have better HR readiness for AI.

Hear more about the research when Oakes and Brekken present “AI and HR: Implications and Opportunities,” a mega session starting at 4 p.m. Thursday.

Feeling excited? Plan ahead and get your tickets to future HRE events and conferences now.


HRE Executive Editor Elizabeth Clarke contributed to this report.