#HRTechConf: My Top 5 Highlights

Last week was HR Technology® in Las Vegas. And what an event! Over four days, 4,000 attendees came together with 300 exhibiting companies to learn, network and witness 60 new product announcements!

For me, HR Tech’s biggest pull is in providing a buzzing atmosphere and the relationships which can come from it. The Conference and Expo is one of the top locations to reconnect with our existing clients, showcase our tools to new prospects and meet the big names of tomorrow.

Here are my top 5 highlights from this year’s show:

1. HRMarketer Listed In Top Ten Technologies

The HRMarketer team was honored to be included within this year’s top ten HR Technologies And Recruiting tools.

There are some pretty awesome names on the list and its very gratifying to see ours among them. Having our software described by Matt Charney as the “crème de la crème of the category” and “the only HR Technology provider whose software I quite literally feel I can’t live without?” is special!

2. Meeting With Clients And Making New Contacts At Established HR Tech Companies

Not only did I get to catch up with existing clients, I also made lots of new friends. Engage2Excel, for example, asked me to drop by and check out the old TharpeRobbins. The new energy was enormous and the team there were so friendly and engaging!

3. Getting To Know The New Players

I’ve run start ups before and understand the challenges. That’s why I make a habit of meeting with the new players in the Startup Pavillion. It’s wonderful to chat with entrepreneurial people and talk through their challenges and opportunities to grow within the tech space.

4. The Social Buzz

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love to be on social channels sharing and creating content and, in my own small way, helping to create a buzz around the top events.

#HRTechConf was more than just buzzing, the social noise was almost deafening and some amazing relationships were generated as a result. I loved that I had so many people reaching out to me on the floor- one of the most impressive was the technology demonstrated by CareerBuilder who sent a video via twitter asking for me to drop by their booth.

There were almost 8000 unique twitter handles using #HRTechConf. HRTech must have a lot of virtual attendees! For example I had lots of fun trying to connect with Jo White from Tower Watson. I couldn’t understand why I was having trouble finding her on the exhibit floor until I realized she was one such person attending virtually.

5. Innovation And Product Launches

HRTech was all about announcements. A big one that springs to mind was Globoforce’s announcement of their WorkHuman event next May 9-11 in Orlando.

The new release of our Get It Done module, officially unveiled at #hrtechconf this week, means that the power and reach of our social media and research tools will help more marketers than ever save time and get their social engagement initiatives done much faster and with maximium impact. It was such a pleasure to stop by booths or meet people at parties and tell them about the new tools. I even had a client pay for the software right on the Exhibit floor on day 1!!

Overall it was a fantastic conference and I’m thrilled to be returning to HR Technology Conference and Expo 2016 in Chicago.


Image: Bigstock

A Microbiome of HR technology We Are

The microbiome discussion had me riveted. One of multiple 10-minute presentations at the TED@IBM event really inspired me, learning about how microbes interact in symbiotic communities. The research shared by Dr. Robert Prill, a computational biologist at the IBM Almaden Research Center who gave this TED talk, specifically talked about microbes and food and how they can tell us if something is good for us or bad for us. This could have profound implications on keeping food production safe worldwide.

At the break, an analyst friend told me about a few HR technology projects he was advising on. Same solution provider – two new implementations and one remediation due to serious data integrity and security issues.

Remediation? Yikes, I thought. Not that surprising; we’ve been in the HR technology marketplace for many years and solution providers can never be all things to all customers, whether they say they’re a true integrated talent management suite provider or stay focused on a best of breed solution.

And then it hit me – wouldn’t it be amazing if we could have a microbiome of sorts for companies buying HR technology? Or for any hardware and software purchases procurement, finance, operations, IT, marketing and sales, human resources and talent acquisition makes?

My inspiration became a realization that we actually already do – a somewhat symbiotic community of business executives, HR buyers, IT, analysts, influencers, vendors and third-party consultants.

Obviously selecting the right HR technology can be a daunting task, whether it’s a new solution or a replacement system. So many things have to be considered in this complex ecosystem relationship — cloud computing, HR data management, talent analytics, best of breed and integrated HR and talent acquisition and management systems, and more.

In our own microbiome, it’s happiest time of the year for many HR and business executives who are now at the 2015 HR Technology Conference & Exposition (second only to vacations and the holiday season). They are busy evaluating and reevaluating their HR technology ecosystems.

There are three simplified selection steps to consider. These aren’t new and many HR buyers and providers alike have shared them for decades, but they’re always worth sharing again. Plus, nearly every software provider in our space will gladly give you a “make the business case” kit.

First, outline your problem and goals. What are the problems with your overall talent strategy today and what are your goals for tomorrow? Your HR technology investment extends beyond the product itself – it’s also about the collective experiences with your vendor that make up your HR and recruiting processes and the systems that enable them all – user experiences, implementation experience, customer experience, compliance experience, data management experience, system integration experience, and much more.

Second, research your solutions. Now that you’ve documented your primary talent strategy problems and goals, it’s time to find the right solution that will enable you to recruit, hire, develop and retain the very best talent. And this is where you can leverage your HR technology microbiome to make better informed decisions – analyst reports, online research, peer network reviews, third-party consultants. In fact, there’s so much information available today that most buyers are well-armed prior to selecting their short list of solutions.

Third, build the business case. The final step in this process is to create the business case for buying and/or replacing the right HR technology for your organization. This includes:

  • Reviewing your current talent processes, metrics and analytics
  • Outlining the benefits of a new HR technology solution (whatever that is)
  • Listing your top vendor contender or contenders (Technical documentation, features, benefits, services and support, ROI (qualitative and quantitative), etc.)
  • Calculating your costs (Software subscription fees, implementation fees, support fees, maintenance fees, customization and/or configuration fees, data integration and management fees, etc.)
  • Identifying your key stakeholders (CHRO and/or Head of Talent Acquisition Other Senior Executives, IT Department Finance/Procurement, etc.)
  • Creating your final compelling presentation (make that magical business case!)

Most of us in the HR marketplace know there are just too many realities and variables that can muck up the works from RFP to purchase to implementation to maintenance. Vendors over-promise and/or under-deliver, internal teams underestimate resources needed, and internal teams and leadership alike change before total cost of ownership is ever realized. I can’t tell you have many times I’ve heard, “Oh, I came on board right after we purchased and implemented [insert provider name here] – and now it’s a beast.”

These bad metaphorical microbes aside, a microbiome of business processes, people and HR technology we are. We’re more informed than ever when it comes to purchasing and implementing the talent technologies we count on to keep our businesses performing well and staying healthy. And that’s definitely good for us.

Happy Buying!

6 Must-Attend Events At HR Tech Conference And Expo

Oh my! There are going to be so many awesome sessions and speakers at this month’s Tech Conference that the challenge becomes how to maximise the best learnings while in Vegas.

Here are my six must-attend events to attend while at the industry’s biggest show of the year.

1. Opening Night Reception in Expo

Get going in style. This will be your first opportunity to enjoy drinks and hors d’oeuvres while you connect with other 2015 attendees, browse the exhibits and talk with vendors. This is always a super opportunity to get a jump start on your visits to the almost 300 vendors in the Expo Hall before the first full day of sessions even begins!

2. Opening Keynote With Marcus Buckingham: Centering on Team Leaders: Data-Driven Strategies for Revitalizing Engagement and Performance Management

Marcus Buckingham, Founder of The Marcus Buckingham Company, and New York Times best-selling author will walk attendees through new and proven data-driven strategies for revitalizing engagement and performance. Marcus will discuss a radically new approach to equipping team leaders with what they need to breathe new life into their engagement and performance-management systems. Beginning with why team leaders are more crucial than ever in organizations today, he will go on to share a proven blueprint that leverages reliable and frequent data (targeted to those areas where organizations need the data most) to create a far more powerful and integrated approach.

3. The Monday Night After-Hours Party Sponsored by: Cornerstone

Happening at the amazing House of Blues Concert Hall. This fun evening will feature a DJ, live performance from The Wallflowers, dancing, cocktails and more! RSVP at

4. The All New HR Tech Hackathon

The first-ever HR Tech Hackathon, held on Tuesday afternoon, promises to be a fascinating new addition to the conference this year and I can’t wait!

This exciting development competition will feature teams of engineers and designers from many of the leading HR technology solution providers, as well as some emerging HR tech providers eager to make their mark. Starting Sunday, the teams will have less than 48 hours to design, build and then demonstrate live on stage brand-new solutions that address real HR and business challenges.

Then you’ll help choose the winning innovation. It’s a great way to see the latest HR technology thinking in action, giving you an exclusive window into the process, culture and capabilities of leading vendors — invaluable insights to have for your next HR technology investment.

The Cool New Session Will Feature:

  • Boris Kozak, Director of Engineering, Jibe
  • Hunter Powers, Manager of Software Engineering, Jibe
  • John Hatcher, Software Engineering Manager, Jibe
  • Shamir Saddler, Software Engineer, Jibe
  • Vish Viswanathan – Enterprise Architect, Salesforce
  • Alisa DiStaso, Lead – HR & Employee Engagement PMO, Salesforce
  • Shane McLaughlin, Principal Solution Engineer, Salesforce

5. Closing Day Keynote: Unleashing the Power of Openness with James “Jim” Whitehurst, President and CEO of Red Hat, and author of The Open Organization: Igniting Passion and Performance

In a constantly accelerating landscape, how can companies stay competitive with limited resources? Could a cultural transformation hold the keys to enhancing business performance? From his years leading vertical organizations and managing tech companies, Jim Whitehurst has experienced the full spectrum of corporate structures.

Jim will share candid advice about configuring and leading an open organization in today’s fast-paced, highly connected environment. He’ll also explore how such an open model can be incorporated into organizations of any size to help you fuel greater levels of passion, engagement and performance.

6. Special #TChat Show – Live From HR Tech

Don’t forget to take an hour away from all of those awesome Speakers and seminars to tune in for the special #TChat show live from the event at 1pm ET on Wednesday 21st October.

With guests Susan Vitale, Chief Marketing Officer at iCIMS; Lori Sylvia, Chief Marketing Officer at SmashFly; and Michele Ellner, Director of Marketing at Montage joining Meghan and Kevin, the special on-site show promises to be amazing!

Looking forward to meeting you at the Conference and Expo. Until then fellow tech enthusiasts..

#TChat Recap: The Hot HR Technology Trends Of 2015

This week we were joined by Steve Boese, co-chair of Human Resource Executive’s HR Technology® Conference and a technology editor for LRP Publications.

Kevin, Steve and I talked about trends and current innovations in HR Technology, why they’re important, and how HR and technology intersect inside modern organizations today and tomorrow.

Cloud computing, HR data management, talent analytics and best of breed and integrated HR and talent acquisition and management systems continue to be hot trends in the HR tech space. We investigated these as we  looked at the hot HR technology trends of 2015 and the upcoming HR Technology Conference and Exposition.

Listen to the recording and join us in person or online for our special 2015 HR Technology Conference #TChat show in October to discover the latest movers and shakers within the HR Technology space.

What’s Up Next? #TChat returns Wednesday, Sept 9th: #TChat Radio Kicks Off at 1pm ET / 10am PT — Our radio show runs 30 minutes. Usually, our social community joins us on the Twitters as well.

Next topic: #TChat Preview: Why Compliance Is A Complex HR Necessity – Wednesday, Sept 9, 2015 — Our halfway point begins with our highly engaging Twitter discussion. We take a social inside look at our weekly topic. Everyone is welcome to share their social insights #TChat.

Join Our Social Community & Stay Up-to-Date! The TalentCulture conversation continues daily. See what’s happening right now on the #TChat Twitter stream in our LinkedIn group, and on our Google+ community. Engage with us anytime on our social networks or stay current with trending World of Work topics through our weekly email newsletter. Signing up is just a click away!


Photo credit: Big Stock Images

#TChat Preview: The HR Technology Mic Drop

The TalentCulture #TChat Show is back live on Wednesday, October 8th, 2014, from 7-8 pm ET (4-5 pm PT). The #TChat radio portion runs the first 30 minutes from 7-7:30 pm ET, followed by the #TChat Twitter chat from 7:30-8 pm ET.

Last week we talked about how to successfully work from anywhere, and this week we’re going to talk about the HR Technology mic drop.

Specifically this is our very special 2014 HR Technology Conference & Exposition show, live from fabulous Las Vegas and complete with one of the most influential influencers in the HR Technology space, Jessica Miller-Merrell. Follow the hashtag #HRTechConf to get all the daily updates on activities!

Fact is, the HR technology industry will most likely be worth nearly $10 billion (or more) in 2015. That’s the mic drop. Boom.

A lot of opportunity for HR vendors, and great news for buyers because integrated “talent engagement” software is here to stay, including recruiting, performance, compensation, succession, learning and so much more, all of which are helping improve employee engagement, productivity and driving business outcomes.

Plus, data management, social collaboration and video technologies are all still very hot. Oh, and talent analytics across the board, that’s really the big, big mic drop. Double boom.

Join TalentCulture #TChat Show co-creators and co-hosts Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman as we learn more about the HR Technology mic drop with this week’s guest: Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, President/CEO of Xceptional HR, author, speaker, HR professional, and workplace social media expert who has a passion for recruiting, training, and all things social media.

Related Reading:

Meghan M. Biro: Sink Or Swim: A Tidal Wave Of Tech Is Shaping HR

Didier Bonnet: Convincing Employees to Use New Technology

Trish McFarlane: Big Trends in HR Technology and Beyond

Elaine Orler:  Top Trends in Talent Acquisition Technology

Ben Nelson: Wanted: Long-Term Thinking about Technology and Education

We hope you’ll join the #TChat conversation this week and share your questions, opinions and ideas with our guest and the TalentCulture Community.

#TChat Events: The HR Technology Mic Drop

TChatRadio_logo_020813#TChat Radio — Wed, October 8th — 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT Tune in to the #TChat Radio show with our host, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman, as they talk with our guest: Jessica Miller-Merrell.

Tune in LIVE online this Wednesday!

#TChat Twitter Chat — Wed, October 8th — 7:30 pm ET / 4:30 pm PT Immediately following the radio show, Meghan, Kevin and Jessica will move to the #TChat Twitter stream, where we’ll continue the discussion with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we gather for a dynamic live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: What’s innovative and exciting in HR technology today? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q2: How are companies using talent analytics to drive business outcomes? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Q3: What are your recommendations for HR buyers attending this year’s HR Technology conference? #TChat (Tweet this Question)

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed, and in our new TalentCulture G+ community. So feel free to drop by anytime and share your questions, ideas and opinions. See you there!!

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That Single Source of HR Data Truth

“Memory banks unloading
Bytes break into bits
Unit One’s in trouble and it’s scared out of its wits…”

—Neil Peart, “The Body Electric”

She looked at me as if I’d pushed her. Her cheeks flushed and her eyes blackened like collapsed stars where no light escapes.

“But according to this Bloomberg Businessweek article, ‘the National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, Britain’s Royal Society, the European Commission, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, among others, have all surveyed the substantial research literature and found no evidence that the GM [genetically modified] foods on the market today are unsafe to eat.’”

I shrugged and added, “Period. End of story.”

Probably not the way I should’ve handled the discussion, but I’m not always the brightest light in the night sky when it comes to debating my lovely wife (even though we “dance” very well with one another).

She threw up her hands and waved me away, “I don’t care. I’ve read plenty of reports that counter that and show how detrimental genetically modified foods are.”

Now I shrugged. “Because everything we read on the Worldwide Interwebs is true, right?”

That’s when the light was sucked right out of me.

“Sorry,” said Unit One, scared out of it’s wits (me, of course). Isn’t Businessweek a single source of journalistic truth? I thought but thankfully didn’t say.

Ah, but it’s all in how you collect the data and serve it up, right? A single source of sometimes misinformed truths depending on where you sit or stand?

That’s a cynical viewpoint, but unfortunately data is both a staunch ally and an even fiercer enemy depending on it’s current subjective state, where it’s from and why. The sheer volume of data is staggering. According to IBM Research, 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone (and that was from two years ago!). Seems like research surveys alone pummel the social media atmosphere like meteor showers, most of which disintegrate on impact.

And a big ol’ Milky Way of that data there is, created by us and distributed by us – some clean, vetted and valid, and much of it not so much. Organizations have a unique challenge today when it comes to managing this expanding-universe people data, as well as galaxies of other business-related data.

John Sumser, the founder, principal author and editor-in-chief of the HRExaminer Online Magazine, asked this question in his recent (highly recommended) HR Technology series:

Is there an opportunity for HR to harness people data across the entire spectrum of data sources to find the best utilization of people?

Indeed there is. There are finally HR technology solutions and systems on the market today, and some still being developed (always being developed), that combine with the computing and storage power of a thousands suns (maybe not that much, but still), and that allow for large volumes of data to be managed and integrated and reported on, extracted from so much light and dark online matter.

But according to Josh Bersin, founder of leading HR research and advisory firm Bersin by Deloitte, “Large organizations have seven or more different systems managing HR data. Bringing this data together for meaningful analysis has become mission-critical, driving tremendous demand for integration tools to help rationalize, integrate and analyze people-related data.”

Seven or more systems. Mercy me.

My friend and colleague, Jim Bowley, a long-time HR technology executive and mentor of mine, again reminded me that data collection is a very expensive process in which multiple participants need to synchronize their activities to pull together, transform, and build integrations that in turn will lead to the kind of workforce discoveries that are the very essence and continuous origin, the “Big Bangs” of talent and the true integrated experience. These are what business leaders are demanding today, hence the conundrum for HR.

But before we can solve for and get to the true integrated and insightful experience, we’ve got to understand the data basics and two other related terms:

  1. Data, Metrics and Analytics. Data are specific points of information an organization collects and maintains – like applicant source and key skills. Metrics are measurements with a goal in mind – like what constitutes quality of hire. And analytics are the identification of meaningful patterns within the data and metrics – like what key skills from what populations and locations drive quality of hire within the organization, predicting what and who to look for next.
  2. Data Harmonization and Transformation. Harmonization is about creating the possibility to combine data from varied sources into integrated, consistent and unambiguous information sets, in a way that is seamless to the end-user. Transformation is about converting a set of data values from another source data system into the data format of a new destination data system.

Harmonization, transformation and integration of data from multiple sources in a single solution that can make sense of all the interstellar mess, putting the data to work in far more strategic ways than it ever before – creating that single source of HR data truth. Only then can we get to the telling analytics and insight organizations have longed for (and are finally getting).

That’s where we’re going in HR technology today and tomorrow. Steve Boese, a co-chair of Human Resource Executive’s HR Technology® Conference and a technology editor for LRP Publications, and a recent guest on the TalentCulture #TChat Show, told me that one of the major themes for this year’s HR Tech show is the proliferation of HR data and better ways to measure talent initiatives with metrics and analytics, and there will be some exciting case studies shared to underscore this progress.

Yes, welcome to the Big Bangs of talent, breaking bytes into future-telling bits.

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