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    Your semi-complete guide to the HR Technology Conference - #HRTechConf

    As most readers know by now, I've taken on a new role in 2013 as a Co-Chair of the HR Technology Conference, slated to start in about one week's time - October 7-9. 2013 at the Mandalay Bay Resort in my new second favorite city, Las Vegas.

    With the conference less than a week away, I thought it would be a good idea to try and assemble some event information, updates, links to some great external sources of information and insight about the event, and lastly to offer up some of my commentary about the event as well. 

    Reader warning - if you are not planning to attend HR Tech, (or HRevolution as well), and you are not really interested in the details about an event of which you will not be a part, then bail out on the post now, as I sense about 2,000 4,000 words are about to follow, and you will probably hate me (and possibly yourself for not attending HR Tech), by the end.

    So here goes...

    Prologue - 'I am still wavering on whether or not to attend HR Tech this year. I would like to but....'

    Admittedly, it might be too late to either convince you to come out to Vegas in less than one week,  or for you to solve whatever problems that are getting in the way of you making it out to the event. All I can do at this point is point you in the direction of a couple of options that might be able to help you make the trip.

    The first is on the event registration - since you are one of my very close personal friends you can still take advantage of a special registration discount code - SPK13 - which is good for $550 of the full on-site rate, which will bag you full access to all the sessions, the Expo Hall, (over 300 exhibitors this year), and the official conference parties. Go here to bypass the rest of this post and register right now.

    But there is one more option that is even better (in my opinion), which is to join me and about 100 of my nearest and dearest HR professional friends at the HRevolution event taking place the day prior to HR Tech, on Sunday, October 6th.

    What's that? You'll still need a place to stay in Vegas?

    Relax, you can still find four and five-star rated rooms on or near the Las Vegas Strip for about $100/night on Hotwire.com and I bet you'll find similar options on other online sites as well. And if you are the more adventurous type, I bet you can send out a tweet with something like 'I'm looking for a roomie for #HRTechConf, anyone out there want to split the hotel costs?' and I bet you'd get some takers. Just make sure is isn't Tim Sackett.

    Chapter 1 - 'What is this HRevolution you are talking about?'

    Ok, here is the scoop.  HRevolution 2013, a one-day event for HR, recruiting, and truly every kind of business professional and will take place on Sunday, October 6th at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas.

    HRevolution was created a few years ago by a small group of dedicated HR pros that saw the need for a different kind of HR and Talent-themed conference – one that was less formal, more participatory, more about challenging conventional ways of thinking, was built around its attendees, and lastly was vastly more affordable than the typical professional event.

    Over the years, HRevolution has held events in Chicago, Atlanta, Louisville, and this year for the second time in Las Vegas, but one element of HRevolution remains the same despite the years and changes in location – that the event is centered around providing a small but passionate group of the most forward-thinking HR and talent pros an event that is truly their own, and one that helps build and strengthen the community of HRevolutionaries. We will talk technology, employer brand, Generations in the workplace, keys for identifying top talent – and much, much more. And you will not want to miss the 2nd annual ‘HR Improv’ presentation contest – trust me on that!

    And I would be remiss if I did not thank the great folks at SumTotal Systems, the exclusive sponsors of HRevolution Las Vegas. Without their generous support, the event simply would not be possible.

    This year we have another great lineup of sessions and speakers – you can see the full agenda here, and in true HRevolution fashion there will also be plenty of time and space to create and lead your own discussions as well. Tickets for the HRevolution Las Vegas are still available here, and if you register for the event not only are you making a great decision for your own professional and personal development, you will also receive a $600 promo code for the HR Tech.

    Chapter 2 - I'm coming to HR Tech, what do I need to know to prior to coming to Vegas?

    Ok - let's start with some 'pre-event' prep.

    You probably need some kind of a plan. I know, you like to think of yourself as a spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment kind of person, but taking that approach to an event as big and diverse as HR Tech will probably leave you feeling at the end of the three days like you missed out on something.

    I think you need at least some structure in your approach to the event in order to have the best experience possible.  First off, find and download the official HR Tech Conference Mobile App,(sponsored by ADP). With the app, you can view the complete agenda and build your personal agenda; receive real-time reminders and updates during the conference; find sessions, events, speakers and exhibitors; take notes; view the Tweetstream and much more.

    With the mobile app you can also check out the full list of exhibitors, (more on attacking the Expo Hall in a moment), and believe me, you will want to really have a plan in place for the Expo this year.

    Attendees of HR Tech can also access and download the conference materials prior to and at the show - you will receive an email from the Conference with the link and access information for the materials. Look for that in your Inbox shortly.

    If you have not already, join the HR Technology Conference's LinkedIn group. That is a great place to connect with and learn more about your peers and colleagues that will be in attendance at the show, and an ongoing source of great information and discussion about all things HR technology.

    And if it is your first time attending HR Tech, it will help you put some faces with names of many of the people you will meet, as well as several of the speakers at the Conference.

    There are a couple of other resources with some great ideas and tips about getting the most out of your HR Tech experience, including some tips on 'pre-event' steps you should consider that I will point to here:

    Naomi Bloom's HR Technology Conference Attendee Tips

    Franz Gilbert's Top Ten Things to do to Prep For #HRTechConf

    I will update this post with additional 'pre-event' planning tips as I discover them.

    Oh, and I'm not going to clutter up this post (which already I can tell no one is going to read to the end), with some nonsense advice about what to pack for Las Vegas or for you to drink plenty of water or wear comfortable shoes. If you need a blog to inform you that it can be hot in Las Vegas, even in October, then you have bigger problems that you might want to address before coming out to a big HR conference.

    But seriously, pack layers as the conference rooms sometimes are on the cool side.

    Chapter 3 - I'm in Vegas, it's Sunday, October 6th, what is my next move?

    Are you attending HRevolution? If so, we will see you at the Mandalay at 8:00AM for coffee and bagels. 

    Actually, we probably would have seen you on Saturday at either the wedding of two of our dear friends from HRevolutions past, Frank Zupan and Tammy Colson, or at the private HRevolution tweetup on Saturday night. Do you get it by now that I am pushing hard to convince you to come out to Vegas a day early and join us at HRevolution?

    If you are not attending HRevolution, then you still have some things to do on Sunday. First, get out to Las Vegas. If you have never been to Las Vegas before (is their anyone left out there who hasn't been?), one of the first things you will notice is just how close the airport is to downtown and the Strip. The cab line will probably be long, but it moves fast the the ride to your hotel, (provided you did not book something in Henderson), will be fast and pretty cheap. Don't waste your time trying to figure out some kind of shuttle or bus ride to try and save $5 on the ride. That's for the nickel slot players, not high rollers like you.

    The first 'official' event for the Conference is the HR Technology Connection Reception from 5:00PM - 6:30PM Sunday night, and is sponsored by the great people of Monster.com. At this reception you can connect with other attendees, have a frosty beverage or two, and officially begin your conference experience. I spent some time with the gang at Monster recently, and they tell me that they have some really cool things planned for this reception, so you won't want to miss it.

    After the reception you'll have time to find a great Las Vegas restaurant for dinner, take in a show, hit the casino (tip your servers, please), or even hit up a party or two.

    Now is as good a time as any to tackle the subject of HR Technology Conference and after-show parties. There are lots of them. And lots of dinners. And lots of cocktail hours. Basically lots of all the things you'd expect. I am not going to even try to mention them all here, (save for the 'official' conference-attached events), but you can refer to this excellent list on the Blogging4Jobs site to get some information about a few of the events that are planned. 

    Chapter 4 - Monday, October 7 - Conference Day 1

    You will definitely want to keep it under control Sunday night in order to be ready for an early start and what can become a really long Day 1 at the Conference. You have the opening keynotes, the first set of concurrent sessions, the debut of the highly anticipated 'HR Tech Talks' and of course the first crack at the Expo Hall.

    Here is what you really need to be thinking about for your first full day at the Conference:

    Continental breakfast, sponsored by Pinstripe, starts early, (or really early by Vegas standards), at 7:30AM. At 8:45 (still pretty early, so like I said, maybe cool it a little on Sunday night), the Conference will officially kick-off with opening remarks from the Co-Chairpersons, (I can only vouch for myself here and promise that I will be VERY brief), followed by the opening keynote from the world-renowned thinker and visionary Don Tapscott. I guess I should have put this in the 'Prologue' section of the post, but if you need some good reading for the plane ride out to Vegas, do yourself a huge favor and pick up on of Don's books like Wikinomics, Grown Up Digital, or his latest, Radical Openness. This guy cranks out best-selling and highly influential works every two years it seems. Amazing.

    After the keynote, you hit a really important stage in the overall conference experience - your first chance to hit the Expo Hall, featuring over 300 exhibitors, (with over 100 exhibiting for the first time), and enjoy refreshments courtesy of our friends at Glassdoor

    The nice thing about the opening of the Expo Hall at 10:00 AM on Day 1 is that for a full hour there are no sessions at all that could conflict with your ability to tour the exhibits. It is like that old game show, Supermarket Sweep, except better and longer and not with groceries. I suppose it really isn't like that show at all. But I digress.

    Again, I think you want to have a plan for the Expo Hall, not only for this first hour, but for the full length of the show. And that plan really depends entirely on your needs, your point of view, the specific types of solutions and technologies you and your organization are most interested in, and perhaps your approach will be even a little bit impacted by the solution providers you are already working with.

    So while I can't tell you exactly what you should be looking for, I can offer up some more general advice for the Expo Hall.

    1. Look over the list of exhibiting solution providers this week. The list can be found on the HR Tech Mobile App, and also on the HR Tech Conference website here. Take note of any specific vendors that you know you want to see and talk with during the Expo.

    2. Consider reaching out to some or all of these targets in advance of the show, either to set up a specific time to visit them (and to be sure you'll have someone their looking out for you), and to engage with them about your specific area of interest or concern. It can be kind a of a drag to spend 10 minutes at a crowded booth waiting to talk a vendor rep only to find out they really are not the 'right' one to address your area of interest or need. 

    3. Leave time to explore. You might have a short list, (or even a long list), of specific vendors you want to visit, but be sure to leave enough time to see and meet some new ones. As I mentioned, with over 100 first-time exhibitors, even veteran HR Tech Conference attendees are going to find that there are scores of exhibitors that they are not familiar with. Take advantage of this once a year opportunity to meet as many of these providers as makes sense for you and your time.  You can do about a year's worth of market research in a few hours in the Expo Hall if you get after it a little bit.

    4. Engage with the booth staffs a little bit, it won't kill you. The exhibitors want to try and connect, to try and help you and understand your challenges and problems, and certainly want to show off their solutions. But none of that can really happen without some give and take, some two-way engagement. So you have to do your part too.  

    5. Let the rest of us know who is really doing a great job at their booth, who has some awesome swag or who is doing a really interesting promotion. If you see an amazing demo fire off a tweet on the #HRTechConf hashtag that lets everyone else know what they need to check out.

    6. Size doesn't always matter. Don't discount any providers on the sides or in the back of the Expo Hall. I guarantee some of the most innovative technology at the show will be in the 10x10 booths.  Make sure you work the entire show, not just the largest, splashiest boots.

    7. Have fun. Remember you are in Las Vegas, at the best HR conference in the world and have two days to play like a kid in a candy store. Except you're no kid. But I bet there will be candy.

    From there, the Conference really gets going, with the first block of concurrent sessions. As always, there are lots and lots of great options to choose from - really something for everyone. One piece of advice, the Workforce Analytics Session with Brian Kelly and Julia Howes from Mercer and the first annual 'NextGen Influencers' panel discussion moderated by Bill Kutik both figure to be very popular (and packed) sessions. You may want to head over to them a few minutes early to get a great seat.

    Lunch on Day 1 features the highly anticipated Human Resource Executive Magazine 'Top Products of the Year' awards presentation and is sponsored by Avature. I know who the award recipients are this year and I can tell you for sure it is a fantastic set of solutions.

    After lunch, hit the Expo for another set of demos and conversations and have some cake and cookies, (or something stronger assuming at least one enterprising exhibitor has cranked up a margarita machine by then).

    Day 1 concludes with another great set of concurrent sessions in the afternoon, my personal 'can't wait to see' sessions are the first ever 'HR Tech Talks' modeled after the famous TED Talks, 'Keen on the Small Screen', a session about mobile technology in recruiting, and a great Collaborative Learning panel moderated by Stacey Harris. But again, no matter what session you hit, you will be in for great content from great speakers. At the end of the concurrent sessions, head on back to the Expo Hall to relax, do some more socializing and shopping, and have a drink courtesy of the good folks at XpertHR.

    Monday night at HR Tech is a big party night. There are probably half a dozen killer parties, assorted dinners, and even more impromptu meet ups for some beverages and revelry planned. Have fun but remember that you still have another two days and one night ahead of you. Don't leave all your mojo on the dance floor or in the baccarat room.

    But if you do end up going a little wild and partying a little too hard, then you might want to check out a service called Hangover Heaven. These guys have an actual bus that can pick you up and where you can receive a hangover 'cure' in the form of IV fluids, anti-nausea pills, and the like. They say that in as little as 45 minutes you can be back in action and taking notes at the opening general session.

    Chapter 5 - Tuesday, October 8 - Conference Day 2

    Day two of HR Tech is a big one. It features two must-attend general sessions - the first ever 'HR Tonight Show' with host Bill Kutik and co-host Naomi Bloom in the morning, and the highly anticipated 'Awesome New Technologies for HR' session hosted by me in the afternoon. These general sessions are not the entire draw for the second full day of the conference. Once again there are two blocks of great concurrent sessions that you have to plan on attending.

    The morning concurrent session block is anchored by a couple of session I know that I personally don't want to miss, 'The Recruiting Technology State of the Union' when industry expert Elaine Orler will give her view on the essential technology developments driving recruiting today, and the fourth annual social media in the enterprise panel, this time moderated by the great Marcia Conner. Additionally, an intriguing session on legendary investment firm Goldman Sachs and their approach to finding talent and the second batch of HR Tech Talks round out a really packed set of sessions.

    The afternoon sessions are equally compelling with some of the standouts being industry leader and expert Josh Bersin giving his always informed and research-driven take on the LMS market, global beverage powerhouse PepsiCo on moving their HR systems to the cloud, a primer on strategic workforce planning from General Electric, and not one but two 'Ask the Expert' sessions featuring industry legends Naomi Bloom and Jason Averbook. To steal a phrase from World Cup Soccer, this block of concurrent sessions is our own version of the 'Group of Death', you are going to have a ridiculously hard time choosing which session to attend!

    Also on Tuesday, the Expo Hall will be open from 10:00AM straight up until 4:00PM, so you will have lots of time to follow-up with vendors you spoke with on Monday, hit up the ones you might have missed, and generally make sure you've left no stone unturned.  

    And plan on wrapping up your epic second day at HR Tech by attending the 'Thanks for the Memories' party for Bill Kutik, (sponsored by Kenexa) from 7:30PM - 10PM.  Food, drinks, laughs, and more are all on the docket. You won't want to miss this one, and for you Vegas freaks, 10PM is when the night is just getting started anyway!  

    Chapter 6 - Wednesday, October 9 - Conference Day 3

    Congratulations if you have made it this far - and I mean you've actually hung in their with me on this post as the word count pushes past 3500. We are almost at the end of the line. Which is where you will be on Wednesday, the last day of HR Tech.

    Wednesday morning features what just might be the coolest thing ever at an HR conference anywhere - a demonstration of IBM's Watson, (yes that Watson, the machine that made some of the smartest egg heads look pretty foolish on Jeopardy! a couple of years back), answering some of the most challenging and vexing questions on HR and talent management today. We are incredibly excited and honored that Watson will make his HR debut with us at Tech. Side note - ask me about Watson's rider sometime, that machine has some really specific demands about the food in his dressing room.

    After Watson is done blowing your mind, the last set of concurrent sessions, a great and diverse set of topics and speakers is next up. For me, the amazing Ben Brooks declaration that 'Yes, you can make HR Sexy!' has to be high on the list of must-attend sessions. And there is 'sexy' in a few of the other sessions as well - a look at TV leader Turner Broadcasting's approach to talent management and learning, a deep dive into workforce analytics at Southern California Edison, and recruiting industry leader Gerry Crispin's annual panel, this time focusing on global recruiting challenges round out another spectacular set of sessions.

    Finally, the conference will wrap with long time HR Tech speaker, industry expert, and one of the best speakers you will ever hear Jason Averbook's closing keynote titled 'Where are we going? What have we learned?' Jason plans to take us all back through the last five generations of HR software with an eye towards what we have (or should have) learned from the past and will help us see more clearly what the future has in store. There is no doubt Jason will challenge your thinking and leave you excited and energized about our collective future.

    And that my friends has us at the end of the 'official' Conference proceedings. But what you can and should get out of attending HR Tech doesn't stop there, (and amazingly, neither does this post). So let's press on.

    Chapter 7 - What should I do after the Conference?

    The real value that you will receive from attending the Conference is only partly about the Conference. It is sort of the same idea as when Isiah Thomas said that the 'secret' of basketball was that it wasn't about basketball at all. Trust me, it made more sense when Isiah explained it. But back to the HR Tech Conference.

    When you are able to recover (ahem), from your trip out to Vegas you really want to consolidate the information you received, follow up with the connections you made, and make sure you stay connected to the HR Tech community going forward. If you haven't yet, definitely join the HR Technology Conference LinkedIn Group, set up a persistent Twitter search for the hashtag #HRTechConf, and be sure to find and follow the people you met, heard present, and the companies that you spent time with in the Expo.

    And check back with the conference's website at HRTechConference.com - right after the show the site is going to be relaunched with a new design, will have up some information about speaking at HR Tech in 2014, and you can access and download all the materials from the 2013 event as well. 

    Finally, mark your calendars now for HR Tech 2014 - we will be back once again at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas from October 8-10, 2014.

    Chapter 8 - Conclusion

    Wow, what a long, strange trip it has been, and I am not just talking about this post that has just chugged past the 4K word mark. Anyone still out there? 

    Anyway, it has been a really an amazing year of planning, programming, promoting, leading up to the event that will take place next week. I want to thank outgoing and founding Co-Chair Bill Kutik for all of his help and wisdom along the way, and I am sure you will join me and the full HR Tech community in thanking him at his last HR Tech Conference as Co-Chair.

    I'd also like to recognize and thank the many, many folks that work kind of behind the scenes at HR Tech in order to deliver the best possible experience to our attendees, exhibitors, press, analysts, and our growing number of HR bloggers that will be in attendance. The team is outstanding and really understand how to run a show of this scale and I think you will agree with me on that.

    Last, if you are at the show please do tweet and blog and Instagram and whatever else you enjoy - just be sure to drop our hashtag #HRTechConf on all of your updates to make them easier to find and to help folks connect with you too.

    Chapter 9 - Epilogue

    I will have to come back to this post after the show is over to drop in something clever and notable, but for now I will just mention to readers of the blog that I am going on blog hiatus for the rest of this week and next (probably). 

    At about 4500 words this post is almost two weeks worth of material anyway!

    Thanks for the indulgence, and I hope to see you at HR Tech and HRevolution!

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    Reader Comments (9)

    WOW - 300 exhibitors, (with over 100 exhibiting for the first time) - glad to be among such a dynamic Best-of-Breed #HRTechConf expo

    September 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLarry Cummings

    Sounds like an incredible event! We will be there next year. If you want to be on top of things while attending conference check out a completely mobile ATS solution - https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/mosaictrack-recruiting/jbnlghbapombdhlocehilfjhebelmeah

    September 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterElena

    Correction to the above link - it is for Chrome store. You can sign up free from any device and browser at www.MosaicTrack.com

    September 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterElena

    Thanks Larry and Elena!

    September 30, 2013 | Registered CommenterSteve


    You're so dead on - I don't take roommates. Snoring and me don't get along and the people who ask to be 'roomies' at a conference are always snorers. It's the first rule of conference going - "Don't Ask To Be Roomies"!


    October 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTim Sackett

    Even though i am sitting seven seas away from vegas but while reading this post,with every para I feel closer to this massive event. Sheer knowledge and pursuit of work hails all! amazing #hrtechconference

    October 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSatish

    Tim - for some reason, and I think it is more of a female thing, it seems a lot of people share rooms at these events. Not me either though.

    Satish - Thanks!

    October 3, 2013 | Registered CommenterSteve

    Im sorry I couldn't make it - But congrats on the co-chair role.

    November 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJaleel

    That was pretty much informative. Thanks for sharing.

    February 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRecruitment Software

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