I had the opportunity to attend the HR Technology Conference for the first time last week. It took place at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas from October 7 – 9, and for thousands who are active and influential in the HR technology space, it’s an annual pilgrimage anxiously awaited for the opportunity to see, hear about, discuss, and promote all that is the latest, greatest, and yet to come related to technology solutions for HR professionals. But for the average HR practitioner, this conference may not even be on the radar; until recently, it wasn’t for me. If you are that typical trench HR practitioner like me, you may ask yourself why you should be interested in such a specific, targeted HR conference when there are so many others from which to choose. And until recently, I asked myself the same question. After all, in my day to day job, I don’t really focus on the HR systems side of the business. I don’t oversee payroll or HRIS, I focus more on talent management and learning & development. But you see, that’s where I was misinformed. The HR Technology Conference is not just for “systems” HR folks, it’s for everyone. Or at least for everyone who is interested in keeping up with what’s next for HR and the tools to make themselves and their companies more efficient and competitive.
It only took a quick glance at the agenda to realize that there was so much more to this conference than just talking about systems. It was an opportunity to learn from experts in the field about existing technologies, new technologies, and how these technologies can help you, as an HR practitioner, to do your job more effectively and efficiently. Not everything discussed is right for every company, but it’s certainly worth learning about what other companies are doing and what’s available.
The Expo Hall was filled with a bigger assortment of HR technology solutions than one could ever imagine if you’ve never been there. Everything from core HR, to time & attendance, to applicant tracking, talent management, learning management, assessment tools, and social recruiting & sourcing solutions. It’s hard to believe that one of those areas doesn’t touch on something that every HR practitioner handles in some aspect of their job. Again, not everything is for everyone, but it’s worth knowing what’s available. You may not need it now, but you never know what you may need in the future.
Attending the NextGen Influencer panel provided valuable insight from several “up and coming” (though they were all already very established in their careers) HR professionals on how they’ve positioned themselves as the next influencers in the HR technology space. Their real life examples and advice of how they got to where they are now would be useful to any HR practitioners looking to give themselves an edge and make be just that much more informed and competitive than the next person.
The Awesome New Technologies for HR session offered the opportunity to listen to several companies discuss some truly cutting edge technologies. Everything from recruiting analytics, to virtual onboarding, to predictive analytics that help you cull through previous candidates already in your ATS to identify those who may be looking again…the abilities these new technologies give us can be almost mind-boggling, yet fascinating to the everyday HR practitioner.
But perhaps the biggest value I received from attending this conference was the opportunity to be around some of the brightest minds in this space. To just listen to them talk. To hear the terminology and trends. Because even though I may not be using any of it in my day to day job now, that doesn’t mean I may not need it down the line, and it doesn’t mean the companies we compete with aren’t using it now. It may be easy to argue that fancy HR tech is just for the “big guys” or for more high tech companies; but then again, there was a time that could have been said about PCs, email, or smart phones. Technology has infiltrated every aspect of our lives, creating efficiencies we couldn’t have previously imagined. Why shouldn’t that be the case in HR as well? And if I’m going to give myself just a little bit of an edge by attending HR Tech and keeping up with those trends, well, I’ll be sure to be back at Mandalay Bay in October 2014!
About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has 15 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry. She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.