An Open Letter to Bill Kutik
Do you know who this man is? If not, you should – he’s one of the most highly influential individuals in the HR technology space. His name is Bill Kutik.
In addition to having a plethora of knowledge on all things HR technology, he’s also the Co-Chairman of the annual HR Technology® Conference & Expo held each of the last 12 years. He also is an industry analyst, technology columnist for HR Executive® magazine, and host of The Bill Kutik Radio Show®..
I’ve attended Bill’s HR Technology Conference & Expo for the past six years – and it is his show. Additionally, I have had the pleasure of being a panelist both two and three years ago, as well as an exhibitor last year. Speaking from a multi-faceted perspective I wanted to share an open letter to Bill with the rest of the HR Technology Conference community.
First and foremost I wanted to take a brief moment to thank you for your efforts over the last 12+ years as the godfather of HR technology. Your efforts to create the largest, most successful conference focused exclusively upon HR Technology are appreciated by individuals such as myself who have been able to enjoy successful careers in that space largely due to you and others carving out this specialized niche. I cannot thank you enough for all you’ve done for the industry.
As much as the HR Technology Conference has been wildly successful, I believe that there are opportunities to make this conference even better in the future. As such I wanted to take advantage of this letter to share with you some of my wish list for enhancements to the conference in coming years. My wish list is as follows:
All too often the focus at the HR Technology conference is on the larger vendors, and the needs of the enterprise. I believe the attendees would be well served by providing a series of sessions related specifically to the needs of mid-market organizations (1000- 5000 employees). These organizations while aspiring grow into an Oracle, SAP, Lawson, or Workday type of HR technology solution often end up with mid-tier solutions.
Having sessions focused on how mid-sized employers can build the business case for an enterprise-sized solution, supporting more with less, and enabling talent management strategies for mid-market would be of tremendous value to the attendees. Additionally with many of the exposition booths occupied by vendors with a mid-market focus, this represents a win-win situation for all.
Increased focus on networking
While there are lunches and ample amounts of time allocated in the schedule to permit attendees to roam the expo floor, there are not many opportunities for formal networking. In years past I’ve made some terrific connections at the conference – even landed a job as a result of my attendance. I cannot over-estimate the value of the professional connections I’ve made at the conference.
Other conferences can boast similar sessions as those at HR Technology, but very few can actually bring together the wealth of industry talent in a single location. How can this opportunity be leveraged for incremental benefit? At the 2009 HR Technology Conference there were several successful tweet-ups where individuals who had not physically met before had a chance to make personal contact with one another – cementing long-term professional relationships; albeit, online. More tweet-ups are good.
In addition to tweet-ups, having formal special interest groups meet during the show would be helpful as well. Gathering professionals from similar backgrounds with similar interests such as Global Recruitment, or PeopleSoft users help to round out the experience that people have at the conference and create connections which last far beyond the event itself.
More Panel Discussions
Blogger Mark Stelzner wrote of his experience here – highlighting the desire for more panel discussions. The panel discussions at HR Technology are nothing short of terrific, and more of this can’t be a bad thing. While there might be a point where too many panel discussions may be too much to handle, that’s a problem to consider when you get to that point.
More Singing and Dancing (just no KC & The Sunshine Band)
While we would gladly welcome another performance by Naomi Lee Bloom, the key here is finding a way to weave in a formal social event into the conference. This is yet another way to help build the community and provide another opportunity for more networking. I’m not sure you need to outdo some of the parties from software vendors like Lawson and SAP, but having something social is a great value.
While I’m not sure exactly what the logistical issues might be with getting this setup for all conference attendees at McCormick Place, but having access to reliable wireless internet would help make the conference more productive for all. Having Wi-Fi will better enable interactive presentations like the one that Jason Averbook and Jason Corsello conducted last year to whatever might happen in future years (more live tweeting of sessions?). Not having access to wireless is a big drawback.
I’m confident that this has been evaluated before, but if for some reason it has not this represents a terrific sponsorship opportunity and would enhance the conference experience for many.
I believe these subtle changes can help to dramatically enhance the attendee experience and help raise the bar for future conferences. In addition to my various wishes, I would like to invite others to add onto the wish list through comments on this blog post and/or on the HR Technology Conference LinkedIn group page.
Thank you again for all that you have done for the industry. I forward to working with you in the future and to a wildly successful HR Technology Conference & Expo starting September 29, 2010.