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    « PODCAST - #HRHappyHour 261 - Impact of Digital Transformation on HCM | Main | Blues Brothers Band members, ranked »
    Monday
    Oct102016

    My Top Five HR Technology Conference Moments #HRTechConf

    I am just back from another fantastic week at the HR Technology Conference in Chicago, which once again was a record-breaking gathering of HR leaders, technology executives, industry experts and thought leaders who convened in the Windy City to talk all things HR and workforce technology, and organizational success.

    As the Conference Program Chair, and the onsite host, I (sadly), don't get to actually see and enjoy as much of the Conference as I would like. I tend to have to run from a General Session, to a rehearsal for one of the next day's General Sessions, and then maybe to yet another rehearsal, with a few minutes here and there spent actually talking to folks and (when I had a little time), walking the floor of the Expo, (which if you attended, you know you needed PLENTY of time to see).

    But I did still want to share some of my impressions of this year's event, even if they are limited to the parts of the Conference that I actually did SEE, if not in their entirety, at least for significant amounts of time. And I also wanted to make sure I thanked and recognized some of the great people who shared their time, energy, insights, and expertise, to make the Conference a success.

    So a couple of disclaimers before I get going. I am not going to mention any element of the Conference I did not see in person, so that rules out just about all of the Concurrent sessions, (I think I was only able to peek into a couple of them over the course of the event), the below 'Top Five' list is presented in reverse chronological order, (to keep me from having to pick my absolute favorite), and if I fail to mention someone I should have, I promise it is completely an oversight, and not intentional.

    So with that said, here are my Top Five Moments from this year's HR Tech Conference:

    5. The first 'Women in HR Technology' Summit

    On the Conference's opening day last Tuesday, we held our first-ever 'Women in HR Technology' Summit. The Women in HR Technology Summit was designed for HR, business, and technology leaders in HR and HRIT to share strategies for enabling and supporting technology careers for women, learn from CHROs on the best ways to create and support more inclusivity in technology roles, and hear from successful Founders and CEOs on how they are breaking barriers for women in technology leadership.

    The discussions were incredibly interesting, as were our three panels moderated by the fantastic Cara Capretta, (women tech leaders, CHROs and talent leaders, and CEOs and Founders), along with our closing address 'Lead Like a Girl' from Tacy Byham kept our capacity audience captivated throughout the day. There were so many leaders who are talented, successful, and willing to openly share their experience and insights, that the session turned into an absolute highlight of the Conference.

     

    From last week's #HRTechConf at the Women in HR Tech Summit - a highlight of the Conference for me.

    A photo posted by Steve Boese (@steveboese) on Oct 10, 2016 at 8:27am PDT

    To say that the inaugural event was a success could be a bit of an understatement. In my four years of being a Program Chair for HR Tech, I have never received more positive comments and feedback about any single element at the Conference. Stay tuned for more on this subject, as it has become clear to me that there is the need for and interest in, further programming, conversations, and networking in this important topic.

    4. Discovering the Next Great HR Technology Company

    While HR Tech, and plenty of other shows, have done startup tech company demonstrations and competitions in the past, this year at HR Tech we decided to introduce a new spin on the concept.  Borrowing from the format of the popular TV series "The Voice", we paired up and coming HR technology companies with their own expert 'coaches', (Trish McFarlane, George LaRocque, Madeline Laurano, Kyle Lagunas), who not only 'found' and nominated these companies for participation in the event, but also collaborated and coached them on their presentations and delivery for the event itself.

     

    I'm looking very serious on stage at #hrtechconf

    A photo posted by Trish McFarlane (@trish_mcfarlane) on Oct 4, 2016 at 11:27pm PDT

     

    At the session, ably hosted by Jason Averbook, each of the 8 participating companies, (InvestiPro, ClickBoarding, Chemistry Group, LifeWorks, Clinch, HighGround, RolePoint, and Qwalify), had 5 minutes to talk about their solution, and show it off a little, followed by about 2 minutes to answer a question or two from one of our expert coaches. After 8 fast-paced demonstrations and discussions, the audience got to vote for who they thought would be 'The Next Great Technology Company' - a vote won by LifeWorks in what was an extremely tight race.

    3. General Session - 'Engaging and Retaining the Talent of Tomorrow'

    An important benefit of HR Tech every year is the opportunity for attendees to hear from and gain insights from many of the most influential HR leaders in the world on the topics that are most important to all HR professionals today - areas like talent management, employee experience, development, and creating opportunity for diverse talent pools just to name a few. This year at HR Tech we held what was perhaps the most powerful panel of top HR leaders that we have ever assembled at one time - the highest ranking HR executives from Starbucks, IBM, Cisco, and ADP and that was narrated by award-winning journalist the TV host Soledad O'Brien.

     

    #Flashback to #HRTechConf 2016 Thursday's General Session with Soledad O'Brien

    A photo posted by HR Technology (@hrtechconf) on Oct 7, 2016 at 4:49pm PDT

    In the session, the panel hit on major themes impacting and shaping the workplace today - freedom, stability, information sharing, self-management, and fulfillment to name a few. These senior HR leaders reminded us all that the talent and engagement challenges that face their tens and hundreds of thousands employee companies are not at all unlike the ones you might be facing in your organization as well. But even more importantly they reminded us of the power and value of coming together in one place, at the same time, to talk and share openly about these challenges. I was able to spend some time talking with and watching this panel of CHROs interact with each other, and I was struck by how easy and natural their conversations were with each other, and how open and willing they were to connect. It was a fantastic group and an amazing session at the Conference.

    2. The 2nd Annual HR Tech Hackathon, (and first HR Tech Hacklab)

    A newer feature at HR Tech, introduced in 2015, is the HR Tech Hackathon. In our Hackathon several HR tech solution providers send small teams consisting of about four developers and designers to take on a development challenge and 48 hours later, present it to our audience. In 2015, the challenge statement to the teams was pretty generic, and while all the teams that year did a fantastic job interpreting and putting their own unique stamp on the development, I thought something was still missing - namely a connection between our HR leaders in attendance and each individual technical team.

    So this year, I was lucky to be able to enlist my friends Jason Lauritsen and Joe Gerstandt of Talent Anarchy to facilitate an opening day 'Hack Lab' were over 200 attendees worked in teams to generate their own 'hacks' or ideas for new and improved processes, solutions, and technologies that each of the technical Hackathon teams would choose from in order to guide their development. The teams, (from TMP Worldwide, IBM, Towers Willis Watson, and Ultimate Software), each selected a challenge and worked with that specific HackLab team to try and bring the attendee's concepts to life.

     

    Digital depiction of the #HRTechConf Hackathon demonstrations last week

    A photo posted by Steve Boese (@steveboese) on Oct 10, 2016 at 9:21am PDT

    As you can see from the digital rendering of the Hackathon session above, each of the teams brought new, exciting, and innovative ideas to their solutions. I kind of like to think that I have seen it all in terms of HR tech, but even I was amazed at what I saw that these teams were able to create in such a short time. Thanks to all the Hackathon participants for their fantastic efforts, and special props go to the team from Ultimate Software whose 'Ultimatt' solution was voted as the audience's favorite.

    1. The Ideas and Innovators Session

    So we at HR Tech did not invent the 'Ignite' format, nor are we the first conference by any means to stage sessions using this format, but I think after seeing quite a few of these kinds of sessions over the years, in my totally biased opinion at HR Tech we do this format the best.

    And the reason why we do is 100% due to the speakers that we are able to secure for this session at HR Tech. We have the built-in advantage of having just about all the best minds in the industry already gathered in one place, so I have to say find 10 or 11 folks who are ready to rock the Ignite format really is not all that hard.

    We had talks on a wide range of topics - robotics, workforce fluidity, the gig economy, people as the center of the organization, disrupting your own career - and more. And we had what I think was the best collection of people at any event I have been associated with who rose up to this toughest of all public speaking challenges.

     

    Fantastic group of speakers at our Ideas and Innovators session at #HRTechConf

    A photo posted by Steve Boese (@steveboese) on Oct 8, 2016 at 4:57pm PDT

     

    Many, many thanks to Lance Haun, Cecile Alper-Leroux, Jason Seiden, Jennifer Payne, Ben Eubanks, Michael Krupa, Adam Rogers, Ambrosia Vertesi, and Trish McFarlane for being awesome. And special thanks to Mike Psenka, who would have been awesome too. Mike had to head back to Charleston in advance of the approaching Hurricane Matthew to take care of his family, and graciously allowed me to step in to (try) and deliver his message on communication. (Mike would have been better!).

    As always with HR Tech, I do have to send out a blanket apology to anyone I forgot to mention above, who I didn't get a chance to see at the Conference, whose party I said I would try to make it to but didnt', or anyone else that I just was not able to spend the time with that I would have liked. I am still working on a way to get a clone ready in time for 2017.

    And finally, thanks so much to all of the HR Tech Conference attendees, speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, and my colleagues at LRP who put on such an amazing show. I am indebted to all of you and hope to see you back at the show, back in Las Vegas, next year.

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    Reader Comments (29)

    Thanks again for the opportunity! So much fun. Looking forward to 2017 already.

    October 10, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBen Eubanks

    Thanks Ben for all your help this year!

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    Thank you for sharing the information about your views.

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