Blog Article

Who’s driving these HR tech innovations – the workforce or HR?

Posted by David Smith

David Smith

The second blog post from David Smith, direct from the HR Tech Europe event in Amsterdam.

Here I am at HR Tech Europe and, despite being excited about it for a few weeks now, it’s fair to say that it’s even bigger and more impressive than I imagined it would be.  So, what makes it so impressive and what’s out there capturing the imagination?

The first thing to say is that there are loads of people here.  Over 2,000 delegates are expected here, a rise from just 400 or so in 2011.  These delegates are likely to represent 42 different nations and work for organisations employing anything from a handful to 100,000 people.  There are around 80 different companies exhibiting – ranging from the large multi-national tech firms to small start-ups with a brilliant platform to demonstrate their innovations to the masses.  The passion and enthusiasm of the people here is a joy to be seen!  Twitter has already been buzzing, but by the end of the conference there may be as many as 8,000 tweets sent about this event specifically.

The world of HR tech is massive and is only going to expand further.  Some analysts believe that the HR technology market could be worth a staggering $9.2 billion by 2020.  Where once there were clunky and expensive HR admin tools (think payroll and employee records) there’s now a plethora of ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaS) applications available to support recruitment, retention, development and so on.  Last year, esteemed HR Tech thought-leader Josh Bersin suggested 57% of companies were planning to make a major new HR software purchase in the next 18 months.  I’m sure that figure must be higher now.

So, what seems to be causing a stir at HR Tech Europe?  Well the over-arching themes appear to be ‘Big Data’ workforce analytics, social-sharing tools for improved collaboration across teams, gamified learning tools, cloud-based applications, and all things mobile.  One of the most dramatic themes emerging appears to be the ease in which these tools can be deployed.  Intuitive design, straight-forward ‘cloud-based’ hosting, and user-flexibility are all major selling-points here.  Certainly in the learning and development space, there appears to be a huge amount happening.  Applications have been specifically designed to be fun, simple and above-all-else, mobile.  If L&D professionals buy-in to the concept that 70% of our learning is achieved whilst out there doing the job, surely the possibilities for mobile tools such as these are endless?  Maybe this is just the tip of the iceberg?

All of these advancements are clearly being driven by the changing world of work and a workforce that is demanding work-based tools like the ones they use in their personal lives.  As I wrote in a recent blog post, if we can check-in for a flight via an underground train, why can’t we learn and develop in the same way too?  Technology innovations appear to be being driven by the workforce with their jobs to be done.  They want to do things that they want to do when they want to do it.  Tools need to be useable, flexible and affordable.  The challenge will be to ensure that the requirements of the expert-users and the end-users are aligned.

If you’re at HR Tech Europe, come and see us at Booth 815.  We’d love to meet you.


Follow David Smith on Twitter for live updates at the conference and more blogs on HR Tech via @DavidSmith1978 


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  1. Rui


    October 23, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Hi David!
    Very interesting this exhibition, though, and there is always a “despite”, how the technique will make the selection and recruitment, a machine? computer? a new “tech”? I think not … despite being in favor of technology’m still in favor of the traditional method, face to face, studying and asking and discovering individuals. This is my opinion.
    All the best !!!

  2. Daire O

    Daire O'Mochain

    October 24, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Interesting to see the surge in HR tech topics recently – thanks for the blog.
    NTT DATA Business Solutions are ooking forward to covering some of those themes with Hay Group from the Tech perspective on 7th November in Singapore.

  3. David Smith

    David Smith

    October 27, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    Thanks both for your comments. Rui – I agree with you actually. The best tech is the stuff that makes some of these traditional interactions stronger. For instance, helps people to collaborate more across boundaries, helps people to spot talent etc. I think there’s a need for a strong culture and values within an organisation that then technology can then be built upon.

    Daire – I’m sure my colleagues in Singapore will look after you next month. I hope it’s a good meeting.

    Best wishes to both and thanks very much for reading the blog.

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