#HRTechConf Recap- Technology In Sin City

Are you a business leader looking to make an impact on how efficiently your company performs?
Are you a business leader focused on the intersection of people and results?
Are you a business leader who knows that your organization could be doing more to recruit and retain talented colleagues?
Are you a business leader who does not know how best to educate yourself on how to achieve the results you need from the first three questions?

If you are that business leader, then YOU should be at The HR Technology Conference.

HRTI just returned from my 5th visit to The HR Technology Conference.  As a busy HR leader, I discovered early on that I needed to find a way to condense my learning into short bursts of time instead of constantly taking cold calls from aspiring vendors looking to make random attempts to gain my business.  By intentionally carving time out of my annual schedule to attend this event, I’m able to gain knowledge about all things HR, recruiting and most importantly, how technology plays a vital role in all we do as business leaders.

I attend sessions where my assumptions are challenged- even destroyed- or validated.  I meet professionals from all aspects of human resources.  I speak directly to CEOs from the major vendors in the HR technology space.  And then there is my favorite part- hearing about the new, emerging technology solutions for employers.

It’s all under one roof.  Just picture you and 5,000 of your colleagues at Mandalay Bay there to uncover many of the same secrets.  Just think about how much learning you’ll cram into 2 ½ days.  You’ll hear from the top analysts in the space.  You’ll hear from practitioners, like me, talking the straight talk about what really works in the field.  You’ll forge new relationships that will last for years to come.

And then there’s Vegas.  Sure, it’s “Sin City”, so there is room for a little fun too.  Just remember not to keep your conference badge on and have a strict “no photos” policy.  Seriously, the generous vendors host dinners and parties so that you can meet their teams and get to know them as people.  It’s a great way to not only assess a vendor by the product offering but by the type of people they hire that will ultimately work with you.

What were my highlights from 2013?

  • The Next Gen Influencer Panel- I was honored when Bill Kutik, mentor and leader in the HR technology space, asked me to be part of the panel and speak about where technology has been and where it’s headed from the perspective of a HR leader and practitioner.  We had a packed room of attendees and lots of good questions.  Bill sure knows how to assemble a panel discussion!  Hats off to him.
  • Spending time on the expo floor- Sure, it was a bit of a walk, but I guarantee it was well worth the trip.  *Tip- wear comfortable shoes* Vendors outdid themselves with their demos this year.  I felt more welcome and at home than ever before.  I especially liked my demos from Halogen Software of how they are using Myers-Briggs analysis to bridge the communication gaps among colleagues.  I’m an ESFP and for any of you who have met me, you are probably not surprised!  I also loved the WePow demo.  Any company that by their own definition says, “we are a company passionate about technology and obsessed with recruitment” is a winner in my book.  Seriously, the solutions for video recruiting were really powerful.  And, to be transparent, they gave me my first pair of Chuck Taylors ever!  Thanks WePow!
  • Awesome New Technologies- Here’s where the rubber hit the road for me.  I made sure to get a front row seat for this session because as in years past, it did not disappoint.  New Chairman, Steve Boese, led this exciting session.  Learning more about the six solutions selected really opened my eyes to what is coming down the pike for HR leaders like me and our teams.  It also shows the level of thought that is being put into the experience that people have during all points of the employee life cycle.

What could use some tweaking?

  • Layout of the event- Hosting this event in a casino means lots of walking.  If they can gain access to space so that the expo hall is closer to session rooms, it will be a win/win for attendees and vendors.
  • Tonight Show session- I loved the fun of having a Tonight Show feel to the panel of experienced analysts and leaders.  My only suggestion is to have less scripting.  Whenever you have experts in their field, I don’t think there needs to be a script to strictly follow. Loosen it up and show the knowledge as well as the personalities.
  • Expo “bouncers” that do not look welcoming at all-  Ok, I get that some people may try to sneak into the expo hall, but how many people actually do that?  I’d play the odds and remove the bouncers, I mean, expo welcoming committee, from the door area.  They stare you down like they’ll throw you out.  It’s creepy.
  • Breaks/ snacks-  I know that Mandalay offers theme breaks in various colors.  I recommend having vendors sponsor breaks in their color (ie. HireVue Red Break, Ceridian Blue Break).  All the items in that break are in that color.
  • Blogger vs. Press space vs. Speaker Needs- Ok, this may not impact a ton of people, but for the ones it impacts, it’s huge.  I’d like to see more clarity around who is designated press vs. blogger.  It was horrible attempting to hold briefings in the tiny blogger room.  It was often crowded and very loud.  The press room was also cramped.  Compare that to the huge, nearly empty rooms for several analysts and it doesn’t add up.  I recommend making one huge Briefing Room (for press and bloggers) and then a separate hospitality room for the same group of people to go when they need a quiet place to write.  Now, what about speakers?  I was there in that capacity but was turned away from the press room when I asked to use a printer to print 2 pages before my session that I need FOR the session.  Not good.  It would be great to have a place for speakers to go to prep before their sessions, have a printer to use, etc.

Overall, the final curtain call for Bill Kutik as a chairman of the event was a success.  The collaboration between him and Steve Boese, the new chairman was as close to perfect as you can get.  I am excited to see what 2014 brings!  Thanks to LRP Publications, Bill and Steve for making this one of the most fulfilling events I’ve participated in.

For the full recap, check out Steve Boese and I on the HR Happy Hour show.  Be sure to share!