HR Tech Conference 2017
I’m not a fan of jet lag. It makes me a terrible person and no amount of caffeine can change that.
So, every year when the HR Technology Conference comes up, I question myself as to whether 35+ hours of flights from Hong Kong, severe interrogations from Trump et al at the border and 2 weeks of jetlag are worth the 3 – 4 day conference.
Yet every year I’m blown away by how great an event it is. There is just no better opportunity to catch up with the latest HR tech developments, thought leadership and of course people (because that’s what we are all about!) in one place.
But what about if you weren’t there? Don’t stress, here’s my pick of the 3 new HR tech trends from this year’s HR Tech conference that you would get excited about:
You can actually start using artificial intelligence in HR now!
Two years ago there was an absolute explosion of HR Analytics at HR Tech. This year the conference hall was bursting with AI and machine learning software vendors! While a lot of the AI software is new, AI is going to have a massive impact on HR team’s ability to have an influence on the business. The key areas where this is already happening include:
- HR helpdesk – Chatbots are making a comeback and their usefulness is not just limited to swinging US election results. A large number of vendors at HR tech were selling chatbots that could be trained to learn HR policies based on keywords and answer employee’s questions over instant messaging in a scarily human way. We are finalizing development of our chatbot capability in this space and I’m betting this practice will become mainstream. The obvious upside being that HR teams can now provide employees automated 24/7 HR support (regardless of headcount) and free themselves from these regular.
- Recruitment – There is an increasing number of very cool recruitment products that streamline the sourcing phase of recruitment through:
- AI assisted ‘stack ranking’ of CVs,
- Matching existing candidates in your ATS against jobs, based on machine learning of previous hires and placements; and
- Automating the scheduling of interviews with candidates and clients via automated email responses.
The obvious benefits being that your recruitment team can speed up their sourcing and prioritising of candidates exponentially. What’s even better is that most of these products are being built so that they integrate and sit on top of your existing ATS so you won’t have to rip and replace your existing ATS (even if you really want to ).
For those scared about the impact AI will have on their jobs, the clear signal from most HR vendors is that AI is most exciting when augmenting an HR professional’s performance rather than replace. Using AI to elevate your role and create jobs that don’t yet exist is the key for success.
Improving Employee Performance Through Data
Take the example of LeBron James and the massive amount of performance related data available on him. Gambling sites, bookies and fantasy leagues have so much data on athletes like LeBron that they can predict within a small margin how likely he is to make a shot from a specific spot on the court, factoring in his opposition, venue, game type etc.
How does this translate to the workplace? There is no reason we can’t have an office full of LeBrons. We have the data to do it now!
Apply this to the office for example,
- How likely is Sarah in our sales team to close her big deal in November based on her previous track record with clients of this type (CRM data), how busy she is (KPI data) and the relationship sentiment to date (email data).
- What is the best circumstances that correlate to higher performance for Sarah?
- How do we manufacture these circumstances?
There are ton of HR leaders and vendors leveraging data and HR analytics to predict and boost employee performance already and this is going to be hugely powerful in the next couple of years!
Continued consumerization of HR technology
With the rise of cloud and cheaper development costs, investment in HR technology is exploding and we are finally getting affordable products designed with the employee in mind. Even things as small as HR Tech vendors now starting to use conversational phrases for questions rather than technical jargon show the increased consumerization of HR Tech.
Where the effect of this consumerization of HR Tech is especially evident is in mid-market HR products. Increasingly HR teams at mid-sized companies (<5,000 employees) can now access really functional and easy to use HR software that:
- The HR team aren’t embarrassed to release to employees; and
- That can easily be integrated with other applications in the business!
And it’s happening for good reason – research from Namely shows that middle market companies are the largest market for HR products. Middle market companies hire more people than enterprise businesses in aggregate and have higher payroll spend which is driving vendors to focus on this segment.
Key takeaways from HR tech 2017
In short, HR technology is getting cooler and it’s a great time to be an HR professional.
The huge investment in HR Tech recently is one of the key drivers enabling transformation of HR teams. HR professionals can now leverage their technology to move out of administration and truly focus on interesting work that has a massive impact in the business.
It’s time to get excited!