Market Maker 1:1: #HRTechConf Preview w/ Bill Kutik

Published on August 7, 2012 by R "Ray" Wang

15 Years of HR Technology At The Industry’s Premier Event

The fifteenth annual HR Technology Conference and Exposition returns to McCormick Place in Chicago October 8th to 10th, 2012.  HR Tech is the industry’s longest running event looking at technologies that influence the Future of Work.

The Inside View With Bill Kutik – Future of Work Pioneer And Co-Chairman of HR Tech

Since 1990, Bill Kutik has been a Technology Columnist for Human Resource Executive® (and for HREOnline™ since 2006,), also serving as co-chairman of the magazine’s famous annual conference, HR Technology® Conference & Exhibition, since it began in 1998. In 2008, he started The Bill Kutik Radio Show®, a bi-weekly online talk show with industry leaders.

HR World named him one of “The Top 25 HR Influencers of 2007.” More recently, he was named a “Top 25 HR Digital Influencer 2009″ and a “Top 100 Influencer.”

For 20 years, he was consulting editor for Esther Dyson’s leading computer industry newsletter, Release 1.0. Previously he was the founding editor of the monthly magazine, Computers in HR Management; managing editor of Ziff-Davis’ Computer Industry Daily; and a reporter for The New York Times and The New York Daily News. He has also published articles in Newsweek, Washington Post, Institutional Investor, New York Magazine, Business Month, IHRIM Journal, Cruising World and Backpacker (where he was the founding editor).

We sat down with industry pioneer Bill Kutik for a preview of this year’s event:

1. Where do you see the new trends in HR tech going? What’s changed since last year? (Have we moved beyond Cloud, is everything social?)

Bill Kutik (BK): This year marks an inflection point in HR technology – perhaps in all of IT – the end of one era and the beginning of another, a generational shift in computing.

It happens every 10 – 15 years and remarkably HR has often been at the leading edge of change, either because corporations thought it didn’t matter if IT experiments failed there or because it’s the only department that touches every employee in the company.

Remember, PeopleSoft released the first packaged client/server application (for HR but the first for any function) in 1989, which started the death of the mainframe. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff’s claims aside, HR has been using hosted applications (perhaps not anyone’s version of true SaaS) for recruiting since 1998 and major web-based applications since 2000.

Now the combination of SaaS (Cloud Computing) plus Social in the Enterprise – companies using private collaborative software to get real work done – are marking a new era in computing.

These will be among the major topics this year at the HR Technology® Conference in Chicago, October 8-10.

2. Why the continued interest and investment by organizations in HR and related technologies?

BK: The main reason is the 50-year-long lie in large type in corporate annual reports is finally seen as true: “People are our most important asset.” People costs, even in manufacturing firms with huge capital investments, are more than 50 percent of the annual run-rate. Obviously closer to 90 percent in knowledge-based firms like consulting, law, accounting and software.

To succeed in 2012, organizations must have an effective people strategy aligned with their goals. They must identify the best players, assign them to the right work and keep them engaged. Technology doesn’t create this strategy – executives do – but they can’t properly execute their strategy without the right technology to enable it.

HR technology isn’t for HR anymore. The latest applications reaching mass adoption – such as the Talent Management suite – are now used almost exclusively by line managers and employees after HR has purchased the software and configured it properly.

3. Are 2012 HR technology budgets increasing compared to prior years?

BK: Generally speaking, corporations continue to expand their investment in HR technology globally. According to the latest Towers Watson survey of organizations headquartered in the U.S., corporate HR technology spend continues to increase in the U.S., albeit at a slightly lower rate than in years part:

• 27 percent of respondents reported spending more in 2012

• 57 percent about the same as 2011 and

• 16 percent spending less.

But Towers Watson, one of three long-time international HR consultancies, found a substantial increase in Asia for HR IT spend (34 percent spending more), which was reflected in our conference attendance last year: eight executives from four organizations in South Korea and attendees from Indonesia, Hong Kong, India and China. Brazil had seven executives from five organizations.

Further cementing the global embrace of HR technology, 40 percent of respondents to Towers Watson based in EMEA are spending more on HR technology in 2012.

4. What are some expected highlights of the show?

BK: The star of the show is clearly “Taking HR to the Cloud – Naomi Lee Bloom’s Master Panel” featuring the six most senior enterprise software executives to appear together on any stage. Ultimately, they have responsibility for the five most important HR systems in the world, as well as hundreds of other enterprise applications. They are:

• Steve Miranda, SVP Applications Development, Oracle

• Sanjay Poonen, President Global Solutions, SAP

• Stan Swete, CTO, Workday

• Mike Capone, CIO, ADP

• John Wookey, EVP, Social Applications, Salesforce.com

• Adam Rogers, CTO, Ultimate Software

The secret star on that list, of course, is John Wookey, who was Steve Miranda’s boss at Oracle in charge of all strategy and product development including Fusion, spent three years at SAP creating its first OnDemand SaaS applications, and now spearheads Salesforce’s entry into HR. At the moment, I understand he is temporarily running all products there.

Another general session, “Awesome New Technologies for HR,” is always a favorite. During July and August, I watch about 120 online demos from start-ups and established companies looking for six product demos of disruptive technologies that will knock the attendees’ socks off. They winners tend to come in two categories: A standard HR function done in a whole new way no one ever considered or a brand new function that HR never considered doing!

One of my other highlights is Yvette Cameron’s solo presentation on “The Social Enterprise: New Tools Transform How Work Gets Done,” which is the whole point of our Social in the Enterprise track. The founder of NextGen Insights – and a former PeopleSoft, Oracle, SAP, JD Edwards and Saba executive – she is also VP & Principal Analyst of your Constellation Research Group.

5. Any tips for first-time attendees?

BK: The conference and exposition are going to be huge: The largest in the world for HR technology and the biggest in our 15 years with more educational sessions (42) and more exhibitors (230+). For a first time attendee (or a returning one), my best advice is do your homework in advance before arriving. Download the pdf of our 24-page brochure http://bit.ly/Lbay7s and read about all the sessions or work through our website http://bit.ly/gOOKKr, which also has hot links to all our exhibitors.

Every moment for two and a half days, most attendees tell me they feel pulled by at least three things they want to do, including talking to that expert or this other attendee they just met. Well, it might be maddening but wouldn’t it be a shame if they didn’t know about the other three sessions, which might be even more useful? Problem is there are no weak sessions at HR Technology, and big companies that return every year – such as Accenture, Charles Schwab, Procter & Gamble and Target – tend to send teams of four or more to cover it all. Some send as many as ten or 14!

We have a mobile app with all the session descriptions, presenter bios and exhibitor marketing necessary to create your own personal schedule and send you reminders complete with maps. But I don’t think anyone wants to read all that on their iPhone for the first time 10 minutes before sessions start!

I like to think of the event as Brigadoon: a once-a-year international gathering of everyone who cares about HR technology: HR executives, every guru, analyst and consultant, plus nearly every vendor. We had about 4,600 people counting everybody, except the janitors, last year. Talking with them is every bit as important as attending sessions or visiting the show floor.

So my strongest recommendation to attendees is to check their e-mail and social networks before breakfast and before going to sleep and shut them off all in between! Their greatest opportunity is six feet away from where they’re standing, and not in their hand.

Special Registration Discount Offer

Bill’s been kind enough to provide a registration discount code for the event.  Just use the Promotion Code RWANG12 (all caps) when you register online at www.HRTechConference.com to get $500 off the rack rate of $1,795. The discount does not expire until the conference ends on Oct. 10. Note that’s almost 2 months away!

Your POV

Are you ready for what’s next in HR Technologies?  Will you be shifting your strategy based on the future of work?  Add your comments to the discussion or send on to rwang0 at gmail dot com or r at softwaresinsider dot org and we’ll keep your anonymity.

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* Not responsible for any factual errors or omissions.  However, happy to correct any errors upon email receipt.

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