Looking Ahead to HR Tech in 2018

By: | March 22, 2018 • 4 min read
Steve Boese is HRE's Inside HR Tech columnist and chair of HRE’s HR Technology Conference®, which is taking place Sept. 28-Oct. 1, 2021, in Las Vegas. He also writes a blog and hosts the HR Happy Hour Show, a radio program and podcast. He can be emailed at hreletters@lrp.com.

Some initial themes and topics that could find their way into the upcoming HR Tech Conference include creating business value from HR tech, artificial intelligence and digital assistants.

When talking about raising kids, parents sometimes say, “The days are long, but the years are short.” Even when things on any given day might seem tough, time slips by quickly, and before you know it, the kids are all grown up.

I was thinking about that expression recently for two reasons. One, my child has an upcoming birthday which made me wonder, just where has all the time gone? And two, while it seems to many (especially me) that last year’s HR Tech Conference just concluded, I am already knee-deep in the planning process for the next one, coming this September in Las Vegas.


A large part of conference-planning process is thinking, reading, researching and talking to HR and industry leaders about the most important themes and trends in HR, workplaces and HR technology, to ensure we are adequately reflecting these at the conference. While the preparation for the event is still in the early stages, I thought it would be interesting and also helpful to me to try and use this first Inside HR Tech piece of 2018 to explore some initial themes and topics. Hopefully, these will also be helpful for HR leaders to reflect upon as you begin your own HR and workplace technology planning, purchasing or implementation activities this year.

Creating Business Value from HR Technology

I was doing some research recently and was reminded that the first iPhone launched just over 10 years ago. I mention that for a couple of reasons. Just like in the quote about the passage of time for parents, it does seem as though the iPhone and its cousins have been with us forever. And, after a decade-plus of having access to smartphones and similar technologies, we as consumers have become much more educated and demanding, and our expectations for “value” that we require from these devices (which have all gotten more expensive) have increased substantially. When these new technologies were first introduced, we were excited just to have them and we accepted their capability and functionality at face value, mainly because we didn’t know any better, and didn’t have much of a context or framework for comparison.

Now that we are (or believe that we are) expert, discerning and informed consumers of these technologies, our demands from them and the pressure we place on the providers of these tools have both expanded and evolved. That is the case with any maturing technology, as well as with much of the HR and workplace technologies that companies rely upon.

The primary HR and workplace technologies used in most organizations (ATS, HRIS, LMS, payroll, talent management, etc.) are all very mature categories; all of them even pre-date the first iPhone. Certainly, just as the newest iPhone is far superior to the 2007 model, the latest updates to and releases of these HR and workplace solutions are more capable, functionally rich and provide enhanced usability than previous iterations. But in 2018, I don’t think that having “better” HR technology is enough for most organizations. What must be the goal of any workplace technology is not better HR and workplace technology, but rather better business outcomes — and largely I mean “core” business outcomes such as revenue, market share, customer satisfaction and profit, not “HR” results such as retention or faster time to hire.