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Investments in HR tech: Show me the money!

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].

As many of you know, I joined Human Resource Executive this summer, just as we began to view demos of the finalists in the HR Tech Top Products competition. The 13 winners were recently announced, and this process got me thinking about all of the AI-driven investment happening in the HR technology space right now. 

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News headlines have been full of stories about the stock and earnings of Nvidia, a tech company dominating the design and manufacture of graphics processing units that advance AI, among other things. The company beat expectations for Q2, in a season that the media is calling an AI “gold rush,” backed by $14.6 billion in VC deals related to generative AI in the U.S. so far this year. 

I took a look at the 2023 H1 Global Work Tech VC Update, in which WorkTech founder George LaRocque notes that global investment in work tech surpassed $3 billion in the first half of the year, “sustaining a 26-quarterly average of $1.9 billion.”

LaRocque, chair of the Innovation Summit at the upcoming HR Technology Conference, reports that this investment was spread across 142 deals, putting 2023 on pace to be the third-largest in history for global work tech investment. These eggs aren’t all in the AI basket, but after seeing how much AI figures into the newest HR technology that entered the Top Products competition, it’s safe to say that many of them are.

And it’s not only investment into new tech that punctuates the industry. HR teams are also looking to hire more people with the skills to navigate what’s next. According to new data from freelance marketplace Upwork, AI skills were the fastest-growing category on its platform for H1 2023, and generative AI job posts climbed more than 1,000% in Q2, compared to the end of last year.

Looking shortly ahead, Goldman Sachs analysts report that AI-powered technology investment “could approach $100 billion in the U.S. and $200 billion globally by 2025.” While “Show me the money!” will always belong to the movie Jerry Maguire, if generative AI were a wide receiver looking to make a deal, I bet plenty of teams would be pulling out their figurative wallets.

HR tech in action 

“Organizations often don’t realize how hard global employment is until they have to be responsible for it—especially when it comes to hiring for multiple functions, levels and modalities in various countries and currencies,” says Michael McCormick, senior vice president of product and engineering at Oyster. His company recently launched Pearl, an AI-powered chatbot that can answer questions about global hiring and remote work regulations, saving HR teams the headache of having to read through static, outdated or hard-to-find information. Try it for free now.

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HR Tech Top Product winner Confirm has secured $6.2 million Series A funding, led by Spero Ventures, with total funding now at $11.4 million. Investors include SHRMLabs, Elefund, Gaingels, Black Angel Group and existing customers.

As we saw during the demo process, Confirm’s talent management solution incorporates organizational network analysis into a traditional performance process. We were impressed by how Confirm delivers transparency and valuable insights. Plus, the platform seemed quite fun to use!

Business Insider announced its list of the Most Promising AI Startups of the year. VCs have been after opportunities to invest in AI companies since it became an even bigger deal in late 2022, according to the publication. While this isn’t limited to HR tech (and I didn’t see any cross-over with HRE’s Top Products winners), there are several here that I could see securing use cases within our industry. This includes Leena AI (which has stated HR solutions), Orby AI and WellSaid.

More from Human Resource Executive

After reviewing about 120 Top HR Tech Products submissions; attending dozens of meetings and demonstrations with participating companies; spending hours reviewing notes, re-watching recorded Zoom demos and participating in multiple rounds of discussions on the contenders, here are the top market themes noted by HR Tech Conference Chair and Top Products judge Steve Boese.

HR Tech Conference mega sessions feature popular speakers and topics, and this year there are 11 of them on the agenda. Of course, our team has all of these circled in bright yellow—we can’t wait to snag our seats in these rooms. Here’s what we are most excited to learn from each of the mega sessions at HR Tech 2023

Alex Zea, HR transformation services leader at Mercer | Leapgen, recently told an HRE audience about needed skills for digitally focused HR leaders. She says that learning generative AI is one of them. Also important are data governance, experience management and design for change aptitudes. 

HR Technology Conference 2023 notes

Rethinking Your HR Tech Stack: How to Prioritize Investments in the Face of Headwinds and Change

Ian Cook, vice president of research and strategy at Visier, will talk about how the HR Tech stack now needs to support the exploration, formulation and communication of people strategy. Join him to learn about the importance of this shift and how to deploy the technology that will get you and your stack quickly moving in the right direction.

Generative AI: The Latest Force in Talent and Tech

Join Upwork’s vice presidents of client strategy, Tony Buffum and Tim Sanders, for a lively discussion about how talent, tech and generative AI come together to influence the way enterprises design and deploy talent now and in the future.

NEW for 2023: Innovation Summit

Are you a company in the HR or work tech sector seeking to secure funding? Are you currently exploring fresh investment prospects within HR or work tech? Join George LaRocque at the debut of the HR Tech Conference’s Innovation Summit, the ultimate deal-making event of the year for HR and work tech.

Check out the full list and HR Tech Conference agenda here.