UNLEASH18 : my take

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Last week I attended leash18, the london-based spring edition of UNLEASH Conference & Expo, formerly HRTech. I already wrote a post explaining my understanding of this rebranding through some major trends forcing HRT to reinvent.

Rather than a long post I’ll make a quick sum-up of what I retained. That’s neither exhaustive nor even objective : it’s only my views and impressions regarding the distorting prism of my own concerns and convictions.

UNLEASH18 : Promise kept ?

First, the question many people who did not attend asked me : was the promise of an wider scope, beyond typical HR issues to replace HR at the heart if work and business transformation kept ?

I did not have high expectations regarding this point, except seeing that something had been triggered. When you’re called HRTech and are a leading conference, changing identity and widening one’s audience does not happen overnight. It takes time and evidences. Moreover, London is a “small” conference compared to eash Las Vegas (in next may) and Unleash Amsterdam (in October) which are the actual flagships.

I did not think the audience has changed or widened. And I don’t expect it to happen before a certain amount of time, the time for the word to be spread, backed with evidences, to make people aware that it’s not only about HR but the transformation of work to support the transformation of business.

On the other hand there was a sensible shit in content, talks and messages with, with ason Averbook‘s closing keynote as a peak. Of course there will still be purely HR tracks that will remain unavoidable but, besides that, the message was clear : HR must become more than GR, be the actor of an organization that transforms because it’s business is transforming because the workd is transformation. It came with an exhortation toward being not focusing on internal issues only and have more grip on the external world and business operations. A good start and I’m looking forward to seeing how far this move will go in October in Amsterdam.

Now, let’s get back to my take. Rather than a long post I’m only going to share some things that caught my attention and I’ll elaborate more on each of them in a series of posts to come.

UNLEASH18 : thoughts and questionning

• Still a lot of startups addressing leadership, engagement and cultural issues. These are serious issues but I still fear that some businesses fall into the techological solutionism trap, believing that technology will help them to solve human problems.

• Adoption ! Adoption ! This word used to upset me at the times when most of my work was about collaboration and enterprise social networks and it’s coming back in force in the HR solutions world. But was does the word mean ? I’m not sure everyone shares the same definition. And I wonder if the fact adoption is a so big concern is not the consequence of poor design.

• Feednack apps are still very popular and new players appear every 6 months. How long will the market will be viable for such stand-alone apps now that major HR suites are offering such functionalities. And, globally, speaking, what’s the future of solutions focusing on one and only one use case ? Be better than a general suite with the risk suffering of the “one more app” syndrome ? Be bought ? As HR are trying to rationalize their application portfolio as much as possible this is a real matter.

• The consumerization of HR  practices is on its way with approaches inspired by the consumer world, mostly on change management and customer-centric approaches.

• Lots of questionnings on ethics as data and algorythms are a matter of both expectations and fears.

• Employee experiences appears as a major concern and in some cases it’s a prerequisite to a change of delivery model, not its consequence.

• HR must become closer to business operations but it’s far from happening and turning this idea into reality is not obvious at all. Gloabally speaking the trend is that HR should become less of a support fonction and more of a transformational one.

I will go further into details in my next posts.

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Bertrand DUPERRINhttps://www.duperrin.com/english
Head of Employee and Client Experience @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
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