By Cliff Stevenson, Principal Analyst, Talent Management and Workforce Management with Daria Friedman, Principal Analyst, Talent Acquisition and David Wentworth, Principal Analyst, Learning and Development,  Brandon Hall Group

HR Tech 2018 is a wrap. After talking to over 90 different organizations, a few themes emerged. We asked the Brandon Hall Group research team to share the trends they observed and share it with those who didn’t attend or attended but did not get to visit with as many service providers.

Daria Friedman, Principal Analyst, Talent Acquisition, said this year’s story is the deep, strategic way talent-acquisition technology providers are working toward solving organizations’ hiring challenges and the unique, out-of-the-box ways they apply their technology. Their new solutions not only impact hiring, but other talent management practices as well, including employee engagement, off-boarding, and mergers and acquisitions.

  • Onboarding: Not only used to assimilate, train and engage new hires, onboarding is also being deployed to manage employee transitions, such as off-boarding, returning from a leave of absence, and mergers and acquisitions.
  • Diversity and Inclusion: Here we see multiple approaches to improving diversity and inclusion, such as adverse-impact analysis
  • Application-completion rate: Candidate drop-offs during the application process (and even before starting the application) are an ongoing problem for employers. Here, chatbots are used to answer candidate questions, schedule time to speak with a recruiter and screen candidates.
  • Employee engagement: Providers are expanding their solutions to identify talent that would most likely be engaged with the organization during the recruiting/hiring process. Another solution enables the organization to easily compare engagement survey results with exit survey results so they can understand how they might have prevented attrition

David Wentworth, Principal Analyst for Learning and Development says the theme at HR Tech is artificial intelligence. The letters “AI” were prominently featured on t-shirts, beverage koozies and banners throughout the Expo Hall. The problem, David says, is that it is very difficult to differentiate between solutions with actual functioning AI (very few) and those with a lot of marketing hype (most others). It’s clear that AI is going to have a huge impact on human capital technology, but most of what is available now is basic machine learning and recommendation engines.

Learning-technology players try to define (or re-define) their place in the space. As evolving functionalities blur lines across platforms, David is unsure if corporate buyers would come away from HR Tech with a better understanding than they had last year of who really does what. The roles and importance of solutions like LMS, LXP, LRS and content libraries remain fluid. We can also expect another year of mergers, acquisitions and partnerships.

Finally, in workforce and talent management, the overarching theme seemed to be creating a more human, people-centric focus for existing and emerging technologies. The marketing of capabilities involving AI and ML are expanding, as David noted above, but communicating the processes and talent needed to support those capabilities to companies is becoming increasingly important. Along with that, how organizations use these tools is shifting to the facilitation of human connections. Whether it involves more sophisticated ways of measuring engagement, sentiment or well-being, or even in improving communication, coaching and empathy, there is tremendous interest in leveraging skills that can’t be replicated by machines and those skills are the real value that HR brings to the table.

We find this development heartening, as large conferences often become incubators for buzzwords and marketing spin without really addressing the actual needs of the market. Let’s hope that next year’s HRTech doesn’t bring a sea of t-shirts, koozies and banners with the word “blockchain” on them.

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