The 17th Annual HR Technology Conference and Expo

October 16, 2014 Heather Greenwood

Image_BackOffice at the Annual HR Technology Conference and Expo

The 17th Annual HR Technology© Conference and Expo was held last week in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event brought together more than 3,200 Human Resources (HR) executives and professionals and showcased the latest trends, traditional technologies and processes that are present in the HR world today.

The event covered topics such as Workforce Analytics & Planning, Talent Management, Recruiting, Strategic View, Ideas & Innovations, and many more. Over 55 sessions were offered with more than 280 exhibiting companies and over 60 new product announcements.

The opening keynote “Making the Right Choices in the Second Machine Age” by Andrew McAfee, Principal Research Scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, set the tone for the conference and introduced concepts sure to be embedded in attendees’ future HR discussions. McAfee utilized a comparison model of “Geeks, Machines and Outsiders” that combines humans and digital labor to create winning teams.

As an HR Professional and one who focuses on HR data events, there were three quotes that resonated with me throughout the conference. No, I am not talking about “Big Data”, as this phrase seems to show up wherever you go. Rather, the first statement that intrigued me was when Mr. McAfee stated “The human eureka still matters.” He stressed that successful organizations understand what people are good at versus what technology is good at. Let’s face it, more and more people everyday fear that their position will be replaced with technology. The fact is, people are important. It takes innovation and imagination to grow technology and businesses to what they have become today and those ideas will become even more important going forward. What better way to harness these thoughts than to gather at the HR Technology Conference and share our ideas!

Second, I attended a demonstration on Ceridian HCM. At that demo, Shawn Wiora, CIO, Creative Solutions in Healthcare, was presenting his organization’s reasons for migrating to a single application. In no uncertain terms, he stated “I am just so DONE with trying to get data synced up!” Mr. Wiora went on to stress that they previously had several systems that didn’t talk to each other. There were several vendors touting their products that provide real-time data from a single source. It is becoming incredibly clear that companies are struggling with data synchronization and harmonization and some said they are just plain fed up.

Last, and for me the most profound, was mentioned during the introduction of the General Session “Workforce 2020: How Data and Analytics will shape the Workplace”. The Conference Co-Chair, Steve Boese stated, “The organizations that will prosper will be the ones with the best data.” A very distinguished panel, led by David Gergen, Senior Political Analyst of CNN, went on to discuss data and the fact that it exists and is gathered is no longer acceptable. Today and going forward, it is critical to determine how to make data actionable.

With an over abundance of data being collected daily, there is the constant drive to figure out how to measure purpose, happiness, and satisfaction in the HR Workforce as well as the world in general. Rather than to look at one or two aspects of a data set, the panel discussed the act of combining diverse data elements when running analytics.

For example, rather than show hourly wage growth year over year for four years in an industry, add the element of people in the industry that left their jobs during that time period, deemed “Switchers”, and compare their wage growth to those who remained in their positions, deemed “Holders” and show the two side-by-side. Now you have a chart that has gone from a single jagged line, to two lines that tell a story, form patterns, and provoke even more thought and insights on what to analyze next.

Attending the HR Technology Conference & Expo far surpassed any expectations that I had going in. I look forward to attending next year’s event and would tag this as a “must attend” for HR and technology professionals.


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