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Reflections from Last Week’s 20th Annual HR Technology Conference

Reflections from Last Week’s 20th Annual HR Technology Conference


Laci Loew, Founder and Principal, Laci Loew & Company LLC

October 16, 2017

Source: 2017 HR Technology Conference

The energy and buzz of HR Tech last week, taking place in the very same physical blocks as did the most horrific massacre in modern US history just days before, was a welcome breath of fresh air for all in Las Vegas last week. My personal thank you to the 2017 HR Technology Leadership Team for supporting Las Vegas at a very fragile time — #VEGASSTRONG.

I invested four and a half days stacked back-to-back with conference sessions, product demonstrations, corporate and investor visitors, and analyst discussions. If you did not get an opportunity to join the 8,500 in attendance, here are three takeaways you may find interesting and informing:

People (Not Technology) Are Central to Today’s Accelerated Change

By its very title, the HR Technology Conference is focused on the future of HR technology. But, the rapid pace of today’s workplace and workforce transformation is not only about the technology.

Building and sustaining workers of the future are about (1) shifting organizational structures from hierarchies to teams and employee networks, (2) evolving culture from diversity by the numbers to inclusion and empowerment to bring one’s whole self to work, (3) developing workers from overwhelmed users of information and curating content to empowering them as experts sharing meaningful insights regardless of rank and position, and (4) designing for a positive user experience that engages the user in an entertaining fashion versus building a platform or app brimming with shiny buttons and flashy colors and a litany of features that may not be specifically designed for the user but can be checked off in the feature list.

The User Experience Drives Technology Adoption

As shared by O.C. Tanner in a pre-Conference session, people do not use software – at home or work – for the sake of doing so. They “become adopters if they need, and feel compelled, to (do so),” if the technology solves a business problem, and is fun to use.

Figure. The Most Successful HR Technology Solutions Are All About the User


 Source: 2016 Fosway Group

Again, at the pulse of HR technology success rests people, and specifically the experience they have with the technology solution. Providers ignoring this trend risk their business.

Among 400+ providers at HR Tech, Jubi seems to stand tall here. I describe it as one of the very first modernized digital learning platform for organizations insisting on adoption and measurable results. Developed and owned by the former CLO of Motorola, American Express, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Larry Mohl knows well the corporate challenges of learning technology solutions that deprioritize, or worse yet, discount the user experience. With Jubi, the “learn-do-inspire” model motivates learners by engaging them in a fun, self-directed learning experience that accelerates knowledge application and incites higher levels of productivity.

If your 2018 goals include measurable increases in KPIs, I invite you to take a look at what Mr. Mohl has put together. His early clients (The Home Depot and Gilead among them) will tell you that Jubi – by putting the learner at the center of the experience – have resulted in new agent revenue increase per call by 17 percent and new agent time to revenue reduced by 50 percent.

Buyers Have a Key Role in Technology Implementation

Of the 400+ providers in the Expo Hall, nearly 50 of those occupied the Start-Up Pavilion. Doing the quick math, you can quickly validate that the opportunity for conference goers to see and touch HR technology 3.0 innovation was not in any shortage. Moreover, the innovators’ solutions were quite diverse from Governance Board apps, to digital medical wrist bands in support of wellbeing to virtual mentoring, to mobile-enabled solutions leapfrogging workers from content curators to wisdom sharers for better, faster business decisions.

While technology has always changed, the pace of change has never been so accelerated as what we are experiencing today. This includes the fast clip at which providers are making available not only new solutions but also new features within each solution. While at first this may seem nothing but a plus up, Conference attendees one after another described implementation challenges that accompany providers’ new monthly (and sometimes more frequent with agile development leading now) feature releases. While most providers shared information about their client success teams to head off implementation challenges that come along with feature-rich solutions, I suggest that this introduces another entry point for people at the center – and specifically the buyer.

As well as conducting due diligence and carefully selecting technology that will address their highest priority business needs, the buyer has a responsibility to actively manage the technology’s lifecycle, well beyond initial implementation. In my conversation with a chief talent officer (CTO) at a healthcare provider who recently implemented a new knowledge solution, we discussed how this often comes down to (1) setting upfront deployment expectations with the provider, and moreover (2) understanding and managing to the company culture – another obvious theme of the Conference’s presentation sessions and providers’ solutions.

This CTO described how one of his peers requested a report of predictive knowledge assets in the absence of organizational resources that had any predictive analytics experience, expertise, or capability. This request was illustrative of a mismatch between modern technology capability and organizational readiness. To embrace technology that enables the workforce of the future, buyers need to be astute on the current state of their corporate cultures and opportunities they have to align next generation technology capability with corporate readiness.

Last week’s HR Technology Conference was bubbling with time-honored names (ADP, Cornerstone, Deloitte,, Randstad, etc.) and hundreds more making a more recent play in the HR Technology 3.0 market – Benify, Greenhouse, Jubi, kununu, Pandexio, randrr, and Scout among them. Regardless of veteran or emerging, all are fast bringing to market innovative next generation technology that we likely never thought possible just a few short years ago yet alone fully oriented around the person – user or buyer alike – for better, faster business decisions –not just a longer list of features and functionality.

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