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I love Chicago, and I love it even more when it is warm. When it is spring-like and even at night, a tee shirt is all that is required to be comfortable. I love the pizza and the people; the steaks and a few stolen moments on North Michigan Avenue after the madness of the day is gone. (Vodka helps here). Honestly, my sincere thanks to my Midwestern friends for being so gracious and kind.

As good at the destination might have been, the purpose of the trip was even better. It was a unique opportunity to spend time in my role as an analyst within the human capital management (HCM) space here at Aberdeen, huddled with the vendors, being briefed on the latest technology solutions that enable companies to achieve Best-in-Class status or better yet, to simply remain there. After endless sessions, I can report that the future of the technology that enables companies to build agile, engaged, and durable workforces is truly inspiring. The convention was filled with hope and possibility.

From recognition and reward programs to exciting advances in learning management systems (LMS), assessment-based evaluation tools, and end-to-end solutions relating to talent acquisition, the HR Tech world is alive with visionary software that is already building better companies.

With that in mind, let me relate three of the many things things I learned at HR Tech 2016.

  • The interfaces are better. The user interface of the software solutions I was privileged to demo were amazingly good. I sense they were tested, retested, and probably re-retested, because ease of use is a critical factor in the success of a technology solution. The bottom line is that getting users to adopt a new solution, however strong the promise of grand results might be, is not going to be successful unless the solution is easy for the user to understand. If the solution does not start out with a good interface, fewer people will utilize it, and, as such, the results will not meet with their full potential.
  • Talent is big. Having been a practitioner within the realm of talent acquisition (TA) for a very long time, my eye naturally goes to the solutions that enable organizations to more efficiently hire the right candidate at a lower cost. I also tend to gravitate to the solutions that help recruiters by automating tasks that otherwise eat up their time, such as stack ranking candidates for easy evaluation, one-click rejection letters, and an interface that allows recruiters and hiring managers to work in tighter sequence while making the right decisions at a more rapid pace. I have always believed that an organization’s workforce is all that the organization really has in terms of true and measurable value. With some of the solutions I saw at the Expo, I believe that software vendors are taking this important need very seriously.
  • Bigger is not better. Software vendors come in all shapes and sizes. Some are monster conglomerates, and others are small shops that are quite minimal. It is my belief that the best solutions, the best enablers, are designed and developed not purely by software engineers, but by those who have been there and understand the space as subject matter experts (SME). This became very clear to me when I sat with the CEO of an organization who spent as long in the TA trenches as I did. The result of his input into the development of a solution for the TA space ¬†addressed not only the way recruiting is actually done, but also tools to help recruiters to maximize their time. The solution helped TA professionals communicate with internal partners, such as human resources and hiring managers, keeping all parties focused and on task. It bears repeating;¬†bigger is not better and one size, or vendor will not fit the needs of every organization.

The take-away from the HR Tech expo is simple. Software vendors are working hard to sell solutions across the board in HCM and are getting better at doing it well. From assessments to special chat rooms, to health and wellness or total solutions that run the entire HR platform, the enablers that you need are here, and they are ready for you to evaluate them.

My recommendation is that if you are still using Excel as an applicant tracking system (ATS) and have a sticky notes reminding you which candidates to call in for second interviews, the time has come for you to move out of the Eisenhower era and begin to evaluate the possibilities in terms of technology enablers that will make a big difference within your organization.

Tennyson said it best; come my friends; tis not too late to seek a newer world.

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