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2014 HR Technology Conference Wrap Up

By / October 18, 2014 / / 1 Comment

I’ve been back from the 17th Annual HR Technology Conference for a week now and had time to reflect.

First up congratulations to Steve Boese and his team for putting on such a great event. If you can afford the trip in 2015 it is certainly something to try and get onto your agenda.

As with any event, it’s always good to meet up with old friends and meet new ones. This year did not disappoint. Be it US based people such as Jason Averbrook, William Tincup, Kevin GrossmanLexy MartinWes Wu, Maren Hogan, John Sumser, Chris Hoyt, and Gerry Crispin. Or Australians such as David Guazzarotto, Linda Jonas and Neil Taylor. Along with the ever present conference “junkie” Bill Boorman from UK. (Yes I will have forgotten some people, sorry there are too many to list.)

There was a  contingent of Australian/New Zealand vendors either exhibiting or speaking, including PageUp, Talent2, JobAdder, PlanDo and Fuel50.

I took many pages of notes, with each session possibly its own post. For now let’s review my key take aways and some cool vendors.

Key Takeaway

Key takeaway from the event:

Mature Data Analytics are now table stakes for HR success.

Keynote Sessions

All of the keynotes (there were three) had analytics as a central theme.

First Rahaf Harfoush’s Welcoming Keynote covered three trends; data abundance, personalisation and the talent shortage. With Rahaf’s quote “Big data is no longer just a technology issue it is a leadership and management issue” really summing up her talk.

The Opening Keynote by Andrew McAfee was all about how data (and technology) is changing business both today and in the future. Andrew brought many examples of how data and the effective use of data was critical, such as “companies that adopted data driven decisions achieve 5-6% higher productivity”.  Not a bad business case for your analytics project. For more details read his book The Second Machine Age.

Finally Ray Wang in the closing Keynote covered lots of ground. His key message to me was, data is the foundation of every business today and into the future. These days we need to remember every touch point, click and digital exhaust is a relevant insight that can be used to help improve not just HR but your organisation.

General Sessions

A case study from ConAgra highlighted how HR can use analytics to become a strategic business partner. In this situation HR took over from Finance as the primary source of total (not just remuneration) workforce cost information. The ConAgra CEO really started to pay attention when HR was able to show that adjusting their salary planning process by just 1% translated in to a real dollar saving of $20 million. By executing this change HR was able to actively participate in a cost reduction program ensuring the organisation met stock market expectations.

Another example was the Workforce 2020 panel that focused around ADP’s new Workforce Vitality Report. In the US ADP pays 1 in 6 workers, which is about 24 million people. Needless to say ADP has a lot of data. ADP  are now analysing this data to gain insights into the US workforce.  The result is a quarterly report which measures the total real wages paid to the US private sector workforce, something that has previously only ever been done by the US Government. The difference being ADP can produce their results within days of the quarter end not months like the US Government.

There were many other sessions that had data and its use as a central theme.

A common question asked by participants was ‘How does one start their journey into data and analytics?’ Jason Averbrook had some advice “Find out the three most important things that your CEO wants to know about people. Measure these items. Start there.

In summary there were two quotes that I think everyone going down the path of analytics should keep at the forefront of their mind.

The first from John Sumser – “The challenge in deploying these cool new technologies is to ensure you are not requiring the HR team to re-learn their profession.”

The second from the first session Analytics, Analytics, Analytics — The Future of HR: HR needs to understand the business problem behind the question being asked.

Some Cool Vendors

Once again there were over 300 vendors on the exhibition floor.

With analytics a key theme from the conference sessions, I saw lots of vendors with analytics solutions: either standalone or embedded. In addition there is a growth in tools focused on talent development, gamification and wellness, which was in stark contrast to last year where recruitment took centre stage.

So which vendors were doing some cool things? (Alphabetical particular order and not an endorsement.)

#Dice141 – Recruiting tool Dice has revamped posting jobs on Twitter through the innovative use of big data analytics and Twitter Cards. Designed to be mobile friendly and to cut through the hashtag mess that is associated with Twitter job postings. Really nice mashup of technologies to add value.

7Geese – A new social performance management tool for continuous feedback, coaching, recognition, and goal tracking without performance reviews.

BlackbookHR – Is focused on employee engagement with three different products – Sense, RNA and Presto. RNA being their new offering looking a internal network analysis similar to Intrascope Analytics.

Brand Amper – Allows you to crowdsource your employer brand. Employees publish public, yes public, summarise of your company. With the tool providing you aggregate data on the back end to see what is the message that they are giving.

Data Morphosis – Provide visualisation software that helps HR professionals tell a story with their data. The tool can turn traditional talent data into stunning visualisation, allowing users to replace instincts and guesswork with facts and insight. The tools tries to make analytics 50% visualisation and 50% fun.

Daily Pulse – Daily Pulse from Celpax provide employee mood tracking on a daily basis. Unique with this offering is not only is this a software solution but they also provide a physical device allowing employees to press a green or red button at the exit door depending on how they feel.

jobFig – An assessment tool with a difference, giving employees ownership of their assessment data results. Not only are the results delivered through a beautiful user interface, but integration of the data with other systems is a breeze given the results can be provided as JSON objects.

Krakn – A data visualisation platform designed to analysis the information in your applicant tracking systems. The tool, built using products from Google and Yahoo, analyses information about candidate’s education and previous employers, and presents a view of the candidate’s skills, calibre, and potential.

PlanDo – A new Australian startup looking to move career management from being owned by the organisation to the employee. Really a “co-careering” tool for your employees. It allows them to not only manage their career but also learn more about themselves, define goals and connect with peers, mentors working on similar goals.

QueSocial – Social Recruiting platform with a difference. To tools extends your employer brand into social media by delivering content to recruiters and employees with one-touch social sharing coupled with gamification. (Is a lot cooler than it sounds.) Of course the tool provides comprehensive analytics on how your campaigns are performing.

Welbe – Brings together wellness information from  tools already being used by your employees. The tool provides the you with an aggregate view of the organisations wellness. The tool combines data from nutrition, social, financial and physical apps into a single view with real time analytics.

Wonolo – Allows organisation to quickly find staff for hourly or daily jobs based on skills, location and availability. Think Uber for hourly workers.