HRTechWorld 2016 : Reinventing HR or inventing something else ?

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The 2016 edition of the HRTechWorld Congress took place in Paris on October 25th and 26th with 4000+ attendees.

One year ago, following the previous editions, I had really mixed feelings : very little vision an a lot of “I put my HRIS in the cloud”. It was much better in London in March with the emergence of a vision driven by employee experience.

So what to expect in Paris this year ? The strengthening of a new vision or the survival of a process and technology centric approach

News are good. To make HR in a new way with new approaches, businesses had first to equip with the services and platforms capable of supporting this vision. This was last year’s focus and, fortunately, everybody moved forward. After the year of the pipes came the year of the vision.

I’ll will go deeper into the main topics of this HRTechWorld 2016 in a series of post but here’s the summary of my takes.

• Consumerization : as I’ve already stated, enterprise digitization implies the consumerization of internal practices and tools. At it applies to HR too. Simply put : what is done for the customer outside of the company will be done for the employee a couple of years later. Employees are the company’s first customers. It was also the theme of a talk I gave on the Oracle booth. I’ll elaborate more in a future post.

• HRIS is a back office brought to the front : HRIS used to be a back office solution put in the hand of HR people supporting employees. It will be more and more put in the hand of the employee with a self-service / on demand approach.

• Relations, experiences and services : We’re moving from a process oriented vision to a people centric one. I say people because it goes beyond employees and talents. The role of HR is to manage relationships (as marketing manages customer relationship) and create employee experiences (and there were a some great use cases…) with, in the end, the idea of bringing services to the employees. No because the former missions of HR are obsolete (not at all) but because the technical part of HR is now well known and optimized, so they have to move forward to the people side of their job. As Josh Bersin said : ” HR Software started with process automation, moved to systems of engagement, now it’s about apps that make employee work life better“.

• Less fat in organizations : the outside and the inside are more connected than ever and that’s one the reasons of the above mentioned points. But no business can be as agile as its market, as attractive as the startups which are where talents flourish, if it remains a pachydermic and bureaucratic organization. That was the theme of Gary’s Hamel Keynote, explaining the causes of the disruptions the HR and HRIS world are facing. Nothing new nor surprising but as usual Hamel hits the bull’s eye.

• Disruptors can be disrupted : facing a tsunami, HR have quite the same reaction businesses have towards market disruptors. The first is to say “we don’t have the right DNA, we can’t compte”. Costas Markides,, professor at the London Business Schoold and considered as of the 50 best enterprise strategists told us how an “old” business can react to disruptions. A discourse that can be internally applied to transform a function or a department that must reinvent is value proposition.

• Technology is ready : The second reaction is to say “it’s not going to happen”, to be in denial. That’s something I hear a lot recently about HR Consumerization and HRIS becoming a front office tool. Bad luck : this is not the future but the present. No booth, either startup or “legacy” vendors where the demoed solutions did not support this vision. This is the DNA of all the HR solutions coming to the marketing in the next 5 years. The old model is already obsolete, the only question remaining is the ability to adopt.

• HR of yesterday and tomorrow : in the same way businesses tried to reinvent themselves (new models in an adhoc structure, coexistence), many wonder how to implement these new HR models. In the current HR structure ? In a new one with a new name and mission ? As a matter of fact this is the only question that’s worth : how to implement the future of HR while still making the “Core-HR” work. Culture will matter a lot : the people I talked with had very different views depending on where they were coming from.

I’ll discuss all that in a series of coming posts and interviews.

As a conclusion, it was one of the best editions of HRTechWorld, with the one in Amsterdam two years ago. Great speakers, organizations challenging their HR model, startups moving the lines, legacy vendors bridging the gap…

Next year, the conference will be back in Amsterdam on october 24th and 25th. Meanwhile, join us in London on march 21st and 22nd.

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