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What 5 recent HR tech events say about the state of the industry

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.

In the HR and HR technology industry, there are two “peak” seasons for events: mid-spring and late summer/early fall. With so many HR tech events on the calendar, and as the HR technology market continues to develop, it can be difficult to keep up with the flurry of product updates and announcements from the major (and even the newer) HR technology providers. Our team at H3 HR Advisors works hard to stay on top of these developments, so I thought that this month I’d share a few of the most interesting and potentially important items that we saw as the spring HR tech events season wraps up.

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This is certainly not a comprehensive list of announcements from across the HR technology landscape (our team works hard, but we can’t hit every event on the calendar!). With that, here goes:

Health & Benefits Leadership Conference

Human Resource Executive held its annual Health & Benefits Leadership Conference in Las Vegas in early May, and I was fortunate to not only attend but to host the proceedings and introduce the keynote speakers and general session speakers. While many of the HR technology provider events described above tended to focus predominantly on the introduction of AI technology and new capabilities for skills development and learning, HBLC focused on bigger-picture issues facing organizations and employees—namely, mental, physical, financial and social wellbeing.

Microsoft's holistic benefits strategy: 5 important takeaways
Microsoft’s Fred Thiele at HBLC
Photo by Dawn Kawamoto

Of most interest to me was the continued effort to help solve the financial wellbeing challenges of large percentages of the workforce, with several speakers and session topics focusing on this important area. With increasing economic uncertainty in many industries and following two years or so of elevated inflation in the U.S. and other major economies, developing strategies to support employee financial health was perhaps the dominant theme of the event. The takeaway for me was that, if organizations have not yet, they should elevate the emphasis on financial wellness as a component of their overall employee benefits programs.

Oracle HCM Cloud

Oracle held an event for industry analysts at its company offices in Redwood City, Calif., during which Oracle HCM Cloud product leaders shared recent customer success stories across a wide range of industries, company sizes and geographies, all notable as Oracle’s depth and breadth of HCM capabilities is probably the most well-developed and comprehensive in the HR technology industry.

On the product front, Oracle showcased Oracle Grow, which furthers the capabilities of the Oracle Cloud HCM suite to support employee development, career planning, skills growth and more. This new collection of capabilities, part of the award-winning Oracle ME employee experience platform, makes employee growth easier by unifying learning, skills development and career mobility. Oracle Grow is designed to help employees grow in their current roles, develop the skills needed to advance their careers and pursue new roles, and give HR and business leaders insight into the skills possessed by the workforce.

SAP SuccessFactors

SAP held its Sapphire Customer Conference earlier this month in Orlando. Unsurprisingly, given the scope and maturity of SAP’s products, an emphasis on new developments in incorporating AI technology across the SAP product suite was emphasized. SAP SuccessFactors coined the term human experience management (HXM) to describe its full range of human capital management capabilities and, with the latest set of announcements, is demonstrating a commitment to further enhance the HXM suite with AI.

Related: PwC’s HR, tech leaders prepare to train U.S. workforce on ChatGPT technology

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Specifically, SAP shared details on its latest innovation, planned to be available this fall: the talent intelligence hub capability in SAP SuccessFactors solutions. It serves as a foundation to help employees build and maintain their skills portfolio with the help of AI. This enables employees to showcase their skills, strengths, work styles and preferences, and to discover personalized recommendations for career paths, training projects and mentors. For HR leaders, seeing both Oracle and SAP target development resources and investments in similar areas serves as a reminder of the importance of ongoing skills development and alignment for organizations navigating dynamic market conditions.


Earlier this month, UKG invited industry analysts to a full-day event in Boston to provide extensive updates on business and product strategy and share news on its product development plans. UKG has grown substantially in the few years since the former Kronos (then, the leader in complex workforce management solutions), combined with Ultimate Software, a leading provider of HRIS and payroll software mainly serving mid-market enterprises. The evolved UKG now sits ready to serve customers of all sizes and industries with a wide range of solution sets for core HR, talent, payroll and workforce management.

At its event, company leaders provided a thorough update on recent successes with a wide range of customers, demonstrating its commitment to serving both existing customers pre-merger and catering to new customers of the combined company. I personally appreciated UKG’s emphasis on designing and delivering functionality for the frontline and deskless workforce, which in some industries numbers as high as 80% of employees. Historically, enterprise technology has underserved this sizable component of the workforce, as solutions have tended to cater to the office-based or knowledge workforce. For HR leaders in organizations with a substantial deskless workforce, UKG solutions offer robust and thoughtful solutions that take these workers’ needs and requirements into account.


For the first time, I was able to attend the Phenom customer event and co-located analyst day that kicked off the spring conference season back in late March in Philadelphia. Phenom has grown tremendously from its origins as a solution for mobile-enabled corporate recruiting capabilities to more of a platform in the emerging category described as talent experience management. With Phenom, customers can leverage a growing set of capabilities for hiring, talent development and employee retention.

The main attraction for customers to deploy a talent experience platform like Phenom is that it can provide more targeted and potentially feature-rich capabilities supporting very specific functions like the development of corporate career sites and recruiting features that, at times, exceed those of the larger, HRIS suite providers. This is the evolution of the classic “full suite versus point solutions” debate that has been ongoing in enterprise HCM technology for decades. Notably, however, Phenom’s set of point solutions has grown substantially over time and developed into a kind of suite of its own—and its success with many of the world’s leading organizations is indicative of how this approach can work well for large, complex customers.

Of course, this review of five recent events is just a snapshot of developments in the HR technology market and landscape. To get the most comprehensive overview of HR technology, make plans to attend the HR Technology Conference this October when all these technologies and many, many more will be on display, and you can dive deep into their capabilities, all in one place.