Top 10 Takeaways from The HR Technology Conference 2015

17th+Annual+HR+Technology+ConferenceThe 2015 HR Technology Conference just wrapped and it is time to collect my thoughts and reflect on the event.  First, thank you to Steve Boese and David Shadovitz for the work you do creating the event.  Thank you also to the team at LRP for selecting me as a speaker this year and for all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into producing an event of this caliber.  Even though I don’t work for LRP, although some think I do, it is an honor to be part of such a stellar event.

I attended as a speaker and an analyst this year.  I tried to make the most of my analyst time by visiting with as many solution providers as possible, mostly in the Expo Hall, which enables me to have advisory discussions with HR leaders throughout the rest of the year.  I also attended some great sessions like the Awesome New Technologies session and the Awesome New Startups session.  Both showcase the best of what we can expect from the world of HCM technology and it’s exciting to watch the transformation of our industry.  That said, I have ten things I am taking away from this year’s event.

Top 10 Takeaways

  1. Compliance reigns-  If you listen to some of the sessions and some of the leaders of various solution providers, you may believe that compliance is dead, or at least being killed off.  But much like your favorite character from a soap opera, compliance is not only not dead, it’s stronger than ever.  As a former HR leader, ensuring the compliance was being handled properly was what helped me sleep at night.  Knowing that risk was mitigated and that we had all the regulations met let me focus time on more of the “fun HR” strategies.  After talking to numerous vendors who strive to help keep your business in compliance so that you are freed up to work on other things, I’m excited to see that this is truly achievable for today’s HR pros.  Hat tip to Equifax Workforce Solutions and Talentwise for what you all have going on this year as well as what you’re doing in 2016!
  2. Move to Human-  It’s interesting to hear who is more concerned with the bits and bytes and who is focused on people. I know it’s a HR technology conference, however, those companies and speakers who focused more on the people….the human side of HR….were the winners in my eyes.  As I walked through the Expo Hall, I tried to pay special attention to the providers who talked more about the actual people and the benefit of the tools for the people than those who talked about features.  Several providers stood out in this area for me:  Ultimate Software, Silkroad and Globoforce.  Kudos for keeping the people front-and-center as you enter 2016!
  3. Marketplaces are the Future- This was the first year that one of the main buzzwords I heard was “marketplace”.  Giving employees and leaders the opportunities to make choices easier when it comes to a variety of solutions was refreshing.  Two standouts here were ADP and the ADP Marketplace showcased during Awesome New Technologies.  The second was PlanSource and their benefits marketplace.  I can’t wait to see how organizations embrace all the offerings.
  4. Opportunities for the Cloud-  For several years, talk has made it seem like everyone had already moved to the cloud.  As analysts, we know that this is not the case….YET.  The movement is certainly picking up and for me, the take away is that solution providers need to keep reminding themselves that NOT EVERYONE is there yet.  Give these organizational leaders time.
  5. Some Buzzwords are Overly Ambitious-  If I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrases “machine learning” or “predictive analytics”, I’d have left Las Vegas richer than if I’d played Craps.  I’m all for talking about the workplace of 2020 or 2025, however, don’t forget that many HR leaders and teams are still trying to find solutions to bring all their people data together.  Others are a step farther and can actually run reports on that data and make some recommendations.  Thinking that HR pros have all the tools needed to embrace prediction is overly ambitious.  The same goes for machine learning.  We are taking baby steps as organizations.
  6. Startups push the Established Vendors- One of the most exciting things for me during this event was the opportunity to connect with some very exciting startups.  From having the opportunity to answer questions for the startup community at HR Tech Tank on Sunday to spending time talking to entrepreneurs in the Startup Pavillion, I was energized.  Two standouts for me were Bridge US and Elevated Careers by eHarmony.  These two are doing great things and should be on your watch list for 2016.  It will be interesting to see how the more established providers react to some of the new ideas startups are pursuing.
  7. Not everyone in HR wants to do it all-  One topic that came up in a session I led was the disagreement on just how much a HR leader wants to do or has time to do.  For example, I think it is a great idea to have technology implementation that is faster and easier.  However, providers need to keep in mind that you have HR leaders who may not have time to implement this technology and that they want to pay you to do it.  They also need options for customized service from you because they may not fully understand how to purchase and implement a technology.  This is by no means a knock on HR pros….this is just a gentle reminder that sometimes, we all need to have a helping hand or be taken care of….even HR pros.
  8. Education = Comfort-  Whether it’s buying a technology, implementing a technology or just learning how to be a better HR leader, attendees want education.  The job HR leaders face is a challenging one and whether it’s through sessions at the event, discussions at a booth, or once they return back to their offices, they need ongoing education and support in order to be comfortable with technology.  An organization that is making strides on providing education for HR leaders is Peoplefluent.  I am glad to see their focus not only on the tools to help HR, but in making them comfortable.
  9. HR needs help with Internal Communications-  The primary way that HR teams communicate with employees and leaders is via email.  This is changing.  As HCM solutions begin to offer new avenues for communication in organizations, they should also offer more in the way of templates or service offerings on the communications to be shared.  Several providers are now offering solid resources.  A couple I liked were from Oracle and Successfactors.
  10. Approachability trumps formality- My final takeaway is around the way not only the event works, but how business works.  I am hearing feedback that people value the ability to be approachable far more than being formal.  Whether you’re a speaker or a provider, spend time planning how to make yourself and your organization more approachable.  Those of us in the HCM technology space are far more comfortable than the average HR buyer.  Let’s make them feel welcome.

So, those were my top takeaways.  If you attended, what were yours?  Be sure to share them in the comments section.

Weigh In: The Impact of Talent Management Technology Survey is LIVE Now

cropped-H3_HR_Advisor_300x100.pngH3 HR Advisors is proud to launch our first Talent Management Technology Impact survey in conjunction with iPractice (Perry Timms and Adelaida Manolescu). As the reach and impact of Talent Management technology increases, organizations are looking to compare their use to other successful organizations. This survey will measure and compare those impacts.

Please take a moment to respond and to share with all your HR friends and colleagues. Thank you!

Can You Keep Your Career Safe from the Robots?

HR Happy Hour 219 – Keeping Your Career Safe from the Robots

Recorded LIVE from SuccessConnect 2015 in Las Vegas, August 11, 2015

Hosts: Steve Boese

Guest: Karie Willyerd, SuccessFactors


This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve sat down at SuccessFactors customer conference SuccessConnect and spoke with Karie Willyerd, Workplace Futurist (i.e. the best job title ever), and author of the upcoming book Stretch: How to Future-Proof Yourself for Tomorrow’s Workplace.

On the show, Steve and Karie talked about just what a Workplace Futurist does, what are some of the big-picture work and workplace challenges that lay ahead for organizations, and then dove into the the issues and workplace opportunities that increased use of robotics and automation present. Karie laid out 5 key principles that anyone can use to help ensure their continued development, assert their value, and keep themselves and their careers safe from our future robot overlords.

This was a really fun show!

You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or using the widget player below:

Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Steve Boese Trish McFarlaneon BlogTalkRadio

Thanks to SAP/SuccessFactors for having the HR Happy Hour Show at the event.

Finally, thanks to our show sponsors Equifax – learn more about how Equifax Workforce Solutionscan help you and your organization here.

And really finally, on iTunes or your favorite podcast app just search for ‘HR Happy Hour’ to subscribe to the show and never miss an episode.

Busting the Most Common Myths in HR Technology

Last week was a great week.  It was my fifth time attending SHRM Annual and my fourth time presenting.  It’s always an honor to be there sharing information and to hear some of the great speakers that talk about what is next for human resources.  This year I presented with my HR Happy Hour host, Steve Boese.  Steve and I led a session on HR technology implementation.  I’m passionate on the topic as someone who has bought and implemented different technologies.  It was nice to see that we had 300+ attendees show up for our 7 am session!  Not an easy feat in Las Vegas.

The size of the crowd, the high level of attendee enthusiasm and engagement, and the really long line of folks who came up to chat after the session was completed was a great indicator of the continuing and increasing importance of technology to the HR professional.

The slide deck we shared is up on Slideshare and also embedded below, (Email and RSS subscribers may need to click through).

The big messages that Steve and I shared were a few – that even in the age of modern SaaS technology platforms the fundamentals of great project management remain important. Executive support, a dedicated project team, intentional attention to change management, and making sure the ‘right’ users at all levels of the organization are appropriately engaged in the implementation project are just as important in 2015 as they were in 1995.

This was a fun session to present, and we want to thank everyone who came out as well as the folks at SHRM for allowing us to be a part of the event.

We’d love any thoughts, comments, suggestions any one has on this deck as well!

The Importance of HR Data Security: HR Happy Hour #216

HR Happy Hour 216 – Keeping HR Data Secure

Recorded Friday June 19, 2015

Hosts: Trish McFarlaneSteve Boese

Guest : Roland Cloutier, VP, Chief Security Officer, ADP

Listen to the show HERE

This week on the show, Steve Boese and I were joined by ADP’s Chief Security Officer, Roland Cloutier, for a fascinating discussion on organizational and employee data security.Roland discussed the primary issues and concerns that HR and business leaders have with data security, the best ways for HR leaders to engage with their solution providers and their internal teams when navigating issues of data security, and offered insights on how to continue to secure critical employee information in an environment of multiple systems, platforms, and data integrations.

This was an extremely lively and fun show, (don’t let the dry-sounding topic fool you), about an important and timely issue facing all HR and business leaders today – keeping your employee and organizational data secure in an environment where threats to that data’s security and integrity are just about everywhere.

You can listen to the show on the show page HERE, or by using the widget player below:

Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Steve Boese Trish McFarlaneon BlogTalkRadio


And of course you can listen to and subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on iTunes, or via your favorite podcast app. Just search for ‘HR Happy Hour’ to download and subscribe to the show and you will never miss a new episode.

Thanks to Roland and the team at ADP for making this important topic understandable, relatable, and yes, even kind of fun. Every HR leader’s job is employee data security, and as such, you don’t want to miss this discussion.

HR Happy Hour #201: Putting the Fun Into Analytics

A few weeks ago, Steve and I had the opportunity to record a HR Happy Hour episode with Mike Psenka, SVP of Workforce Solutions at Equifax and Edward Pertwee, Strategic Workforce Consultant at BT.  We had just conducted a panel discussion on how to leverage data and analytics for HR and organizational success.

Mike and Ed both shared some excellent examples, (both in the panel and in the HR Happy Hour podcast), of how, where, and to what effect data and analytics are making an impact in workforce planning, compliance, and to improve business results. There are some amazingly powerful applications for using data in a wide variety of contexts – where to locate company facilities, the effect of demographic shifts on performance, and how long commute times impact engagement and satisfaction.

Additionally, Steve defended Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks, I told Steve that the number ‘201’ should not be said as ‘two hundred and one’, and we learned that a husband should never question the strength and intensity of his wife’s labor contractions.

You can listen to the show on the show page here, and using the widget player below, (email and RSS subscribers will need to click through).

Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Steve Boese Trish McFarlane on BlogTalkRadio

As always, you can listen to the current and all the past shows from the archive on the show page here, on our HR Happy Hour website, and by subscribing to the show in podcast form on iTunes, or for Android devices using Stitcher Radio (or your favorite podcast app). Just search the iTunes store or your podcast app for ‘HR Happy Hour’ to add the show to your subscriptions.

This was a really fun show with some fantastic guests and I hope you enjoy listening!

Simulated Work Experience for Leaders

agelab*Sharing from the archives.  Robotics and computer simulation continue to grow as a topic in the organizations of today.  What do you think? Will robotic capabilities help us as leaders as we sprint into the future?

I recently read a fascinating article about an experiment at MIT’s Agelab.  Agelab researchers have created technology in a suit that uses robotic technology to take able bodied individuals and put them into a simulated situation where they have limited mobility, limited eyesight, etc.  They are hoping that by having younger individuals wear the suit while trying to perform “normal” day-to-day activities, the individual will experience the challenges an older person does with completing physical tasks.

Seeing the capabilities of the suit made me wonder, could MIT’s Agelab help generation X or Y understand the aging work population and their work behaviors?  From a physical standpoint, I think it could.  Jobs that involve a great deal of physicality can certainly be simulated by technology like this.  What would be even more interesting to me would be a way to simulate the mental challenges a leader faces, and those people in leadership roles tend to have been in the workforce longer.

Much like a simulator for pilots, creating a simulated work experience for leadership roles could actually help train and prepare more junior staff for roles they are working toward.  For example, it would give the staff insight into areas they need to increase skill and knowledge like understanding financial statements, feeling the pressure of multiple high-level demands from the c-suite, negotiating contracts and making critical hiring and termination decisions.

If you could create an ideal simulator for a skill, ability or task that a leader faces, what would you add to the simulated experience that you wish you had known when you were more junior in your career?

What Makes Technology “Sticky”?

technologyI was looking for something and came across a post I wrote back in 2010 called Mobile Technologies You’ll Want.  In the post, I mention several technologies that were still fairly new back then.  It was exciting to hear about them and I tried all three, however, four years later and I am no longer using any of them.  Fast forward to today and I’ve tried some new apps such as Whisper, Secret and Yo!  I may have lasted a day or two at most on these before I became bored and could not see the value of daily use.

So what makes some apps and technologies “sticky” to users while others are not?

The commonalties I see are:

  • Visually appealing-  The first step is creating a site or app that is visually compelling to the audience.  There are plenty of apps or technologies that can do a task or process but are so plain or inconsistently designed that potential users won’t waste their time.  Colors that compliment or enhance the content are best.  Dashboards or other structural design elements are also important.
  • Intuitive- No one likes to have to read through lengthy instructions.  The app or technology needs to give users the ability to pick it up and use it.  People are on the go with their smart phones and don’t want to have to participate in hours of training.  The other thing is that you need some basic instructions easily visible with one click.  That gives a quick glimpse or how-to should people need it.
  • Makes you want to tell others to use- I remember when I really figured out how to use Twitter for business.  It was back in 2009 and I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.  I wanted to teach colleagues, share it with all my friends and stop strangers on the street to tell them how it could change their networking.  A great app will be one you’ll want to spread the word about.
  • Understood Value-  This is where many of the apps and technologies fall apart.  Take Yo! for example.  It was colorful and easy to start using.  I just never figured out why people would use it.  If you’re not familiar, the app allows you to send the word “yo” to your contacts.  That’s it.  Then, they can send it back to you.  I guess it’s like the old FaceBook poke or like waving at someone across the room.  So a friend says “yo” at me…now what?  I still prefer a text, tweet or other method where I can use more than one word.

The last thing that I see as a value is a little more personal and certainly all opinion.  I think apps or technologies that do well long term also are not intended to be used for harming someone.  Some of the new apps being created encourage users to be passive aggressive, or even aggressive, in tearing down others.  As a parent, I am even more sensitive to those apps.  All social media can be used in this way, but some are specifically designed for this purpose.

What makes an app or new site “sticky” from your perspective?  What apps are you using regularly that we should all know about?  Be sure to share in the comments.