We are back from Vegas and another successful HR Technology Conference & Expo is officially in the books.  This has become one of my favorite industry trade shows that Sability participates in each year, even though the craps table sends me home a loser (thank you Mandalay).  I like it because there is such an excitement and buzz in the air from all of the new innovations and technology in the HR industry.

The HR Tech team always does a fabulous job putting together a show with great session content and awesome speakers; but for me, I find most of the action takes place on the Expo floor.  It is wonderful to spend time with our partners and other vendors watching demos of new and exciting products and learning about the latest buzz in the HCM industry.

In some ways this show has become like a fashion week for the HR industry.  Each year there are exciting new trends to showcase.  Last year all anyone wanted to talk about was Analytics, and the year before that, it was Talent Management.  While those topics are still hot, I saw three new trends in the spotlight this year.

1. Employee Engagement

The topic of Employee Engagement was key this year.  Vendors were focusing on a couple key points:

  • Having a User Interface (UI) that was easy to use, familiar, and compelling.  It’s no coincidence that HCM systems are starting to look more like social media platforms that we already use.  Familiarity brings comfort and quick adoption.
  • There was a strong presence for wellness – both from bigger vendors and new startups.  Companies are looking for ways to help their employees be healthier and happier.  Corporate activity trackers, employee gift card programs, and exercise gamification were all big news at HR Tech.  It’s great to see the trend of companies understanding the value of keeping their employees healthy and happy.  It has both direct and indirect benefits for them.

2.  Employee and Candidate Profiling

HCM analytics have helped continue the trend of moving HR departments from tactical to strategic.  Instead of being reactionary, HR is driving key reporting metrics upwards in organizations and discovering issues and opportunities that their executives never knew existed.  This analytical data has now moved into how to better manage employees.  The combination of psychometric testing and advanced analytics have helped companies show employees how to work with and manage each other better, as well as give insight into reorganization in order to increase productivity based on peoples strengths.

Candidate profiling has also improved hiring practices.  Tests and trends are showing us what type of people we need for different jobs.  Too often we simply think about finding the best people.  We also need to focus on finding the best fit.  Using delivered testing methods from HCM vendors, studies have shown drastic improvement in quality hires over the past two years.

You may have noticed recently that many of the major vendors have purchased smaller startup companies to fast track their profiling presence.  We’re watching closely to see how well and how quickly these adoptions become part of their core products.

3.  Add-On Modules

This is a big trend this year, but my prediction is that it will become the number one trend at HR Tech 2016.  We are seeing big name HCM companies opening up their API’s to allow innovative products to bolt onto their system and create new opportunities for innovation.  This object oriented approach is allowing companies to pick and choose industry specific add-on modules at reasonable costs.  Vendors will need to focus on ensuring quality from these offerings, but the results we’ve seen so far have been fantastic.

Several vendors are offering free 30 day trials to their customers to test out the add-on module.  What is great about this is that it allows you to try them out and if it doesn’t work for you, you simply take it off.  None of your core functionality is affected.

This is a welcome change in our industry.  We’ve moved into a no customization/SaaS world and it’s been great.  But now that HCM cloud service offerings are stable, focus needs to continue trending towards increased functionality which often needs to be specific to company or industry needs.


Thanks again to the HR Tech crew and Las Vegas for a great show in 2015!  We look forward to seeing all of you in Chicago next year!


James Shryock, Chief Strategy Officer & EVP of Services

As Sability’s longest standing member of the management team, James brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the firm. Having spent many years in the trenches of HCM implementations James’ focus is on bringing efficiency, effectiveness and robustness to the implementation process. James also works with both enterprise and mid-market clients on strategy and vendor selection using his knowledge of Workforce Management, HR/Payroll, and Talent Management.