The Fast-Changing World of HR Technology

Four conference attendees talking about HR technology

Last month I had an opportunity to attend the HR Technology Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas. In a contrarian spirit to “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” I want to share a few observations from the show and how HR technology advancements are shaping up for 2014.

With every trade show or exposition that I have attended, inevitably a few recurring themes seem to be top of mind–from speaker topics to peer discussions, its in the air. The themes of this show were: the cloud, social, mobile, analytics and gamification . It was interesting to see these emerging technologies and the associated buzzwords woven into the language of presentations and product demonstrations.

I spent my time at the conference less interested in industry fortune telling from the keynote speakers and more focused on the product offerings and technology developments. The large companies who sell enterprise technologies to large corporations of course dominated the exhibition area. There seems to be a direct correlation between massive square feet of exhibition space and the high price of their products. However a closer look uncovered a solid group of companies offering end-to-end HR solutions to mid sized companies. An even closer look revealed a rich host of start-ups offering innovative HR management applications to the small business user . I found this latter group to be the most interesting.

What is clear is that there is a rapidly emerging group of low cost, easy to use HR applications that simply did not exist a few years ago. Much of the emergence of these SaaS (or cloud, if you prefer) based applications is credited to the low cost web server model pioneered by Amazon and others. The cost of starting a software company has dropped dramatically in the last few years. This opportunity is bringing more developers to the space that are developing more HR applications. This is very good news for the small business user.

These small business talent management tools (or HR apps, as I prefer) have a few fundamental common traits. They generally are low cost and available in a monthly subscription with credit card billing. In addition, they are easy to use and require little or no implementation, IT support, or training. They are designed around a small business user.

The HR apps accessible to the small business user include solutions across the talent management spectrum include hiring and applicant tracking (ATS) , employee testing and assessments, video interviewing, core HR management ( HRIS ), performance management, employee recognition, benefits management, wellness applications, and more. Many of these HR apps companies are finding it beneficial to partner to create integrations between applications, (i. e. new hire data flows directly into an HR management app) and are partnering in co-marketing initiatives.

This development brings talent management tools to the small business that historically has only been available to large companies with big budgets. This development promises to be a significant “game changer” to small business management and has the potential to level the playing field for small companies looking to become more effective and efficient managing human resources.

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