What I Hope to See at the HR Tech Conference in Chicago Next Week


This is my inaugural blog post for HfS Research, an analyst firm I’m very pleased to now be part of.

I joined HfS because of the deeply held belief that HCM solution vendors could be bringing more clarity to the buying decision and even drive more compelling business outcomes for customers, and that a certain type of analyst firm could help pave the way.

I also joined HfS because, like hockey players go where the puck will be vs. where it is, HfS struck me as a firm that is not only going where the puck will be, but arguably laying down the ice for a new arena. And in the spirit of “I’ll try almost anything twice,” I had an opportunity in 2011 to work with someone I (and legions of others) greatly admire, Josh Bersin, and I also covered the HR Tech landscape then.

Attending the annual HR Tech Conference, as I’ve done 12 of the last 15 years, is like going to a family reunion for me, only a bit less gossip and lamenting about getting old (given tech sector demographics). Re-nourishing the relationships cultivated over the years is frankly as important to me as the intel gathering done at the conference, although the latter makes for a much easier cost justification.

I started going when I served as PeopleSoft’s HCM Product Strategy head, and would have gone when I was an HRIS practitioner from the mid-80s to late 90s but no equivalent conference existed in my view. This one rules the roost.

My esteemed colleagues at HfS, Phil Fersht (founder and CEO) and Barbra McGann (Chief Research Officer), asked me to do a pre-event post on what I’d like to see, and then a post-event post on how much of my wish list was fulfilled – AND BY WHICH HCM VENDORS IN PARTICULAR.

My list follows, and I strongly encourage appropriate vendor contacts to reach out to me at [email protected] so you can brief me in Chicago on the extent to which your offerings align with any of the items mentioned here:

  1. HR-user configurability of the solution, even not-very-technical HR users.
  2. Prescriptive analytics (i.e., analytics that also guide the user in addressing or solving a problem vs. just reporting the news).
  3. Examples of cognitive computing that demonstrate real machine learning such as pattern recognition and appropriate actions automatically initiated at either the micro (employee) or macro (workforce) level
  4. Product innovations that can drive significant business results for customers without major operational dependencies (e.g., change management, process changes, competency re-alignments, etc.), or innovations that will be central to solving customer business problems or pains that are likely to become more acute over the next 5 years. Examples of the latter might relate to the impending mass exit of baby boomers from the workforce, more reliance on freelancers, etc.
  5. Technology that mirrors the way end-users think and solve problems, often in idiosyncratic ways.
  6. Evidence of how a vendor’s customer success model is helping customers achieve measurable user adoption and business value targets.
  7. … and in general, more acknowledgement that no matter how great the solution is, technology by itself is no more than perhaps 40-50% of the answer to solving business challenges in the HCM domain.

Bottom Line

I’m genuinely excited about once again navigating the HR Tech vendor and solution landscape at the annual HR Tech event, culling and calling out nuggets that buyers will find valuable; and very keen to do so on behalf of HfS Research.

Posted in : HR Strategy


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