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    « The Screening Machine | Main | Simpler Answers »

    HR Technology 2010, Simplicity, and Beer

    The latest installment of the HR Technology Conference wrapped up last week,  and truly by all accounts that I have seen so far, the event was another huge success. Attendance was strong, the vendors that I spoke to all claimed to be having positive shows in terms of traffic and connections, and the (large) assembled collection of HR bloggers present expressed satisfaction and enjoyment with the event and the experience.

    What's not to like?  

    Every major vendor in the HR Tech game is there.  All the important trade publications, consultancies, and independent analysts are around.  And the number, quality, and variety of receptions, parties, and dinners is truly astounding. The event itself is well-organized, well-executed, and everyone stays on message.  Including the conference worker that would not allow me entrance to the Expo floor prior to the 'official' opening of the show floor since I did not possess the needed credentials.

    All in all, well done, and many thanks to Bill Kutik for inviting me to participate as a moderator of one of the 'Shootout' sessions where I got to watch over two vendors sweat to get their complex and comprehensive demonstrations completed in 25 minutes.

    For me, the overall theme to the event was 'simplicity'.  The most interesting conversations I had with vendors, bloggers, attendees, etc. centered around either finding technology solutions that would help to simplify workforce and talent processes, or were about adopting new technologies that frankly were better, cleaner, easier to navigate, to use, and to manage than the ones they are currently using.

    Oh yeah, 'LinkedIn' popped up in probably every second conversation I had as well.  Either as a platform that had to be integrated with, as a competitive threat (real and perceived), or in it's place in the social media trinity in a more general commentary about the social web. Connecting with social platforms is getting to be expected in almost every new product, or new release of an old product.

    So in addition to 'simplicity', I guess my other word from the event is 'LinkedIn'. 

    I asked (rhetorically) earlier in the post, 'What's not to like?'

    If I had to offer something not to like, and this is not so much a critique of the HR Tech conference itself as it is a question about the process of marketing and selling HR Technology solutions in general, it would rather be to ask why these themes of simplicity and connectivity don't seem to transfer all that well to the actual process of finding, buying, and deploying HR software?

    Why is it often so difficult for prospective customers to actually try the software out before committing to a longer term purchase?  Why is the pricing information for most of the solutions on display at the show so hard to come by?  Why are sales processes so long? And why do the large majority of HR Technology vendors seem to do at best an average job of connecting with the greater community by leveraging the aforementioned 'trinity' of platforms?

    Those complaints may or may not be well-founded, and even if they are none of that is the fault of the HR Tech Conference itself.  Unless of course by being too good an event, by being too effective as an marketing device, and having established itself as an enduring institution, that effecting meaningful structural and behavioral change in the 'traditional' sales process becomes an even harder barrier to overcome. Maybe.

    But big changes like those, if they come, will be gradual.  And even if they do, I am sure the HR Tech event will continue to thrive.  If for some reason it doesn't, I have a fallback plan though. As we were leaving the conference hotel in Chicago the next big event coming in was the 73rd Annual conference for the NBWA - the National Beer Wholesalers Association. Ironically, one of the most interesting booths at the HR Tech show involved beer.

    It may be time to start that 'Beer and BBQ' blog I have always dreamed about.

    Update - December 2011 - For reasons I am still not totally sure about, this post was translated to Bulgarian - and you can attempt to read that version here.

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    Reader Comments (4)

    Steve, I agree that it did seem like there was plenty of activity on the floor, hopefully that will translate into sales and/or good connections for the exhibitors. I concur also that many of the companies represented did not do a great job on communicating the basics to the attendees. Might have just been my luck but in several booths, the people I talked to didn't know answers to basic questions, some as simple as "how many end users do you currently have". But that is nothing new with trade shows in general. I ususally come away from many booths feeling like I just left a car sales lot.

    If you do go with the B & BBQ blog, count me in.

    October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Jorgensen

    you know i'd read that blog.

    October 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlaurie

    What a big job it must have been to create this nice website. Very good! And thanks for the contests!
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    freelance writer

    July 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAdeleGILBERT

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