Revisiting the HR Technology Conference
Last December, following the 2009 HR Technology Conference & Exposition I drafted an open letter to Conference Co-Chairman Bill Kutik with some changes that I thought would help to enhance his annual conference. The post itself generated a fair bit of discussion in the industry as to additional ways to optimize the conference attendee’s experience.
Having just returned from the 2010 event, I am glad to report this year’s conference delivered tremendous value and information but also incorporated many of the suggestions posed by countless individuals who participated in the dialogue in the LinkedIn discussion.
There were twice the usual number of shootouts, seven panel discussions, twitterstream boards all over the conference site, a social media session track, free WiFi, an extremely well attended welcoming reception, and an official Friday morning tweet-up. Having access to more experts, more topics, and more networking helped me get more out of the conference. In speaking with various attendees over the last few days I can say that they all agreed with my assessment as well.
Highlights from the 2010 Conference:
There’s an App for that (or one coming soon)
It’s been a long time coming, but the market has shifted towards mobile access to applications. Whether this is through a mobile-optimized solution, emails formatted for today’s smart phones or apps that can be downloaded to a smart phone or tablet PC, the beginning of the end of the desktop PC is being felt. Countless vendors either had or will be shortly introducing capabilities to enable productive access to their applications from a mobile device. Examples of this are; time entry & approval, online vacation balance inquires, brief performance updates, and job interview feedback forms. The list potential opportunities for mobile applications is seemingly endless. Putting information in the hands of managers wherever they are can only enhance productivity – assuming the functions enabled via mobile applications are of value to those users.
While WAP or mobile-optimized websites have been available for some time, there is a substantial shift towards more feature-rich Apps which could be downloaded to a smartphone like an iPhone or Android device. The outstanding question I have is how mobile applications will operate in an “app-centric” world alongside customized, premise-based enterprise solutions. I’ll dive deeper into this in a blog post in the future.
SaaS Reigns Supreme
As has been the trend the last five or so years, more and more vendors are shifting their solutions to the cloud and offering On-Demand capabilities. Regardless of the type of SaaS solution being deployed (Single Tenant, Multi-Tenant), a delivery model which effectively controls the level of customization possible helps to enable the solution to extend to mobile devices. SaaS-based solutions have enabled HR buyers to “jump to the front of the line” when it comes to technology-based initiatives given HR’s difficulties in gaining IT support for initiatives in favor of revenue-generating / customer-facing projects. What started out as a delivery model to help get HR moving forward, has quickly gained acceptance not only for “point solutions” but is quickly gaining adoption within the Core HRMS domain as well.
Consolidation Can be Good
I’ve often declared 2010 as the year of the acquisition – and it’s living up to the name. In the month leading up to the conference there were three fairly large acquisitions and an IPO filing. The talent management market is so fractured, and consolidation can only help to bring clarity to the market. The real beneficiary is the HR buyer, as the consolidation has enabled them to focus on less options and eliminate some of the existing risk of their chosen buyer getting bought.
Since the last HR Technology conference, there have been a number of companies that have been bought, sold, merged, etc. The conference is a great place to learn about those changes, and how they can impact you and your business.
With all these good changes I only wish that I was able to sit in more of the sessions, meet more people, and speak with more vendors on the exposition floor. I look forward to the opportunity to do just that next year at the conference when it moves to Las Vegas after a fairly long tenure in my home town of Chicago.
See you all in Las Vegas next October.