The 2018 edition of the Society for Human Resource Management Annual Conference and Expo has now been in the history books for several weeks. Although I’ve shifted back into the day to day responsibilities of my “real job,” I’m still mulling over what I saw, heard, and learned.
I’ve been attending SHRM Annual Conferences for a number of years now. And although as a conference blogger I often receive requests for meetings with vendors or demos of various products, typically I don’t accept them. I’m more of a “content” person when it comes to covering conferences and enjoy writing about the themes that I see coming across in the keynotes and presentations.
However, this year I received an invitation to a luncheon and vendor presentation that I accepted without much hesitation, and that invite came from a company we all – even those outside the HR space – know very well…none other than Microsoft.
The invitation intrigued me for a number of reasons. Although Microsoft is practically a household name, it’s not one that you typically – at least up to this point – hear associated with human resources and HR technology. But it is one that is associated with technology; probably most of us that work in any sort of corporate environment inevitably use Microsoft software in some aspect of our jobs. [I’m writing this post in Microsoft Word for that matter]. But I suppose a Microsoft entry into the world of human capital management technology shouldn’t be too much of a surprise; their 2016 acquisition of LinkedIn already gave them ownership of arguably the largest recruiting platform out there. And if a large percentage of the corporate world is already using Microsoft platforms and software on a daily basis, it could certainly seem to be an appealing option to offer HR related technology that integrates into those platforms. So with my interest piqued, I agreed to attend.
At the event, we had the opportunity to hear from Dawn Klinghoffer, Microsoft’s General Manager of HR Business Insights, who talked about the Microsoft goal to drive cultural transformation through digital and people transformation, and to do this through technology that enables large scale communication and collaboration, feedback, and workplace analytics using platforms many are already familiar with (Outlook, Yammer, and SharePoint). We also had the opportunity to see demos of some of the products, specifically Workplace Analytics and communication tools through Microsoft 365.
One could argue that there are already a plethora of communication/collaboration, productivity, and analytics tools available in the marketplace, and one would be correct. But what I think is particularly interesting with these Microsoft offerings is the integration with tools that folks are already using, tools that aren’t necessarily “HR” tools but rather simply “work” or “productivity tools.” Because isn’t one of the biggest challenges with any technology implementation user adoption? If the tools are already being used, and these additional offerings become an extension of what we’re already comfortable with, doesn’t that make user adoption a bit easier? And the more people using the tools, the more power that can be realized from leveraging the data in them.
I suspect what we saw at SHRM18 was just the beginning, and based on the fact that I’ve already in the past couple of weeks received updates about additional features already available, the development could be fast and furious. I think it will be quite interesting to see where this endeavor goes.