Two Perspectives of the HR Technology show

Some positive surprises - strong attendanceLast week, Dr. Katherine Jones and I attended the HR Technology show.
Written by Brian Sommer, Contributor

Some positive surprises - strong attendance

Last week, Dr. Katherine Jones and I attended the HR Technology show. Katherine is one the best known HR analysts out there and covered the space for Aberdeen Group for a number of years. Together, we sat down with 21 vendors and their top executives. Afterwards, Katherine and I talked about what we saw, what we liked and what we were still hungry to see.

Katherine was kind enough to craft her thoughts on the show. Herewith is our first post regarding the show.

HR Tech is one of the highlights of the HCM technology providers’ fall season and despite chilly weather in the Windy City, vendor enthusiasm and good sized crowds were evident on the McCormick Place’s trade show floor. Attendance matched prior years and this was good to see in the light of recessionary cost cutting that has limited the attendance at other conferences.

Despite Larry Ellison’s recent declaration of cloud computing as “nonsense” and "water vapor," the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model still predominated in HR Tech product announcements and demonstrations. Seeing customers as looking for business solutions first and delivery method second, few HR professionals seemed to be seeking replacement on-premise HRIS systems if they had them –but newer solutions were all delivered on-demand, as a service. The mature on-premise applications had some facelifts—new interfaces modernized products that could be considered a tad long in the tooth.

“Down Under” on Top

We saw a good user interface from the New Zealand Sonar6, a company with a interesting sales strategy that can put in it competitive deals with larger, weightier US companies that are deploying pricey sales people rather than apply eCommerce principles to solution marketing and delivery. With posted pricing, a try-buy approach and what should be real ease in learning, Sonar6 brings a fresh light to the employee and team performance management darkness. Australia-born Aruspex demonstrated strategic workforce planning, looking beyond “how many staff do I need next quarter?” to scenario-based “what-if” planning.

The Freshest Breath of Air:

Always looking for something significant that is novel and new, we found it in HR Acuity, Debbie Muller’s company from New Jersey. The Freshest Breath of Air Award goes to this product, launched last May, which is already attracting attention (the on-demand employee relations solution won the Human Resource Executive 2009 Top HR Product of the Year award). Perhaps a first of its kind, the product gives companies a much-needed methodology for documenting employee issues, especially as potentially litigious circumstances such as wrongful termination, or lack of regulatory compliance arise. The application of documentation and process to employee relations has long been overdue.

Redefining HR Marketing

The recession may have affected the growth of applicant tracking and hiring management solution, leading to a rise in acquisitions by companies that are looking at broader talent management solutions. But some single solution providers – such as the UK’s Mr. Ted, changed the playing field with new sales and go-to-market strategies, especially for small-and mid-sized companies (the company added 2500 SMB customers in 9 months without any marketing beyond FaceBook).

Moving Past Basic Recruiting

Another example, Monster has moved passed the job board market to provide communities, career ad networks and a contextual search engine we want to see demonstrated – the concept sounds right on; let’s see the actual results.

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