I participated in the most recent HR Technology Conferencein Chicago, put by Human Resource Executive (many of get the Magazine in our offices) and came away with a bunch of ideas. First let me tell you a little about the conference, as it is set up a bit differently than SHRM National and most state SHRM Conferences (I use those as a reference, because most HR Pros at point in their career have been to one). HR Tech is primarily set up for HRIS folks, or those in your organization responsible for your Talent Management systems - so primarily IT types and Executive decision makers who can sign the check. That being said - I would argue more rank-and-file HR and Talent Pros should take advantage of the HR Technology Conference -as HR has increasingly in the past 5-10 years become highly technology driven - and most companies (small and mid sized) don't have the luxury of either a HRIS staff or an HR executive that "gets" technology - so whether you like it or not, it's on your shoulders to move this forward in your organization.
Something struck me as I walked the large Expo floor at HR Tech: We are on the verge of taking our HR Systems to a point of ridiculous! I'm fairly certain within the next 3 years, you will be able to launch the Space Shuttle from your Talent Management Dashboard. Also, if you are a small or mid-sized HR shop - there are very few HR Vendors that care you exist (meaning - the majority of products being developed are being developed for "whales" - those HR shops that are Very big, and have very big budgets). The companies that figure out the small and mid-sized market, and can actually deliver what the they say - will be very successful. And, the big guys will keep fishing for whales - alas - that's life - as one HR Vendor CEO told me "the sales process (competing in a very competitive market and selling to the Fortune 1000) is very expensive - so it's highly unlikely a HR Department with an extra $5-10K in their budget is going to be somebody we want to talk to." Ouch! The truth can be sobering - I still think $5-10K is a lot of money for an HR Budget to spend on Technology! (if you're a small/mid-sized HR shop)
Another thing that struck me at the HR Technology Conference was the focus on Simplification - which in HR you would hope the vendors would at least get this. The problem was many marketed "Simple" and gave you software that even a heavy user of the system would struggle to get anything done - let alone your hiring managers. There were a couple though: Rypple (who offers a simple platform for your hiring managers/employees to provide constant feedback on performance - this is very cool and work in any size company); Sonar 6 (providing performance reviews that "don't suck") and Jobvite(probably offering one of the cooler pieces of technology for helping corporate recruiting source and track, plus a awesome tool to put your corporate referral program on steroids - plus fairly inexpensive for what you get - big or small shop).
Finally, the HR Tech industry across the board has gotten so ridiculous in the zeal to shorten every HR Process down to 140 characters - that the only software/product I couldn't find at HR Tech was the 140 character interview. So, I'm staking my claim right now on "Inter-Txt-View" - this won't even be a software, it will only come as an App for iPhone or iPad (the product that will solve all HR issues - or so you get the feel after walking through HR Tech Conf). "Inter-Txt-View" will allow hiring manager to interview all candidates by Text - instantly send the candidate a url link to the offer - and schedule their orientation - without ever having to talk to them, see them or even email them. I mean what could be better right!?
Just wait - at HR Tech Conference 2011 - someone will have a version of "Inter-Txt-View" - I guarantee it!