HR Technology Vendors are Marketing Up a Storm

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by Tim Low, VP of Marketing, PayScale.com

I attended the HR Technology Conference and Expo in Chicago this week to meet with some partners, attend some sessions, and evaluate the show for PayScale for next year. 

The sleepy little backwater that used to be called HRIS is now Human Capital Management (HCM) and encompasses software and tools for everything HR from recruiting and onboarding, to training, development (learning), performance management, compensation :) and even 'employer branding' (think of your company page on LinkedIn). 

Here are three takeaways from the show: 

  1. HR technology products are becoming mobile and social whether you think they should or not. I participated in a number of demos and some education sessions, and both corporate buyers and vendors expressed the pull from their user communities to make technology available on whatever device they want it on (mainly iOS devices and Android). They also want it to feel like Facebook, because that's what people expect now. This is causing handwringing from the traditional IT gatekeepers, but it seems unlikely that will stop the trend. Look at recruiting. It's already dominated by social and if you're using a talent acquisition platform or applicant tracking system that doesn't include significant cross linkages with LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social hangouts, you're missing the boat. It feels like innovation is happening at a rapid pace.
  2. Vendors are amping up the marketing. While HR technology used to be an afterthought, with ERP and CRM being the cool kids, it appears that the market is not only hot, as evidenced by big transactions such as Oracle acquiring Taleo and SAP acquiring Success Factors, but it is also becoming much more creative in its products and in its marketing. Maybe this is just the world changing, but snark and insidery slogans were big this year, replacing sober and boring product details. I particularly enjoyed Cornerstone on Demand's '360 Degrees of Passive Aggressive' T-shirts. Cornerstone is one of the HCM vendors that has a broad suite of products covering what they call the Recruiting Cloud, the Learning Cloud, the Performance Cloud and the Extended Enterprise Cloud. Oh yeah, 'Cloud' is also big, as in, if you are selling a packaged product that requires onsite implementation no one cares anymore.
  3. There is a shift in business and it's people-focused. A theme that is emerging, and one that I think we'll see articulated more clearly in coming months, is that business is now more driven by people and their talents than it has ever been. The evolution away from manufacturing, production and supply chain centric systems to the value of people and their contributions is clearly one reason why HR tech matters more than ever. 

It was a great trip to sunny but chilly Chicago and one PayScale will definitely repeat for next year's event. In the meantime it will be an interesting ride atop the wave of change in HR technology over the next year.

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