This year’s HR Technology Conference brought together some of the greatest minds and technologies in the industry under one roof. People have long said this is the one show everyone should go to, and in that respect, I was not disappointed.

The conference kicked off with two new events, both held in the morning and early afternoon of day one. The “Women in HR Technology” event focused on empowering women and making tech roles more inclusive.

“In the traditionally male-dominated technology industry, there are many successful women leaders introducing new ideas, developing transformative solutions, and leading their companies to success,” HR Tech Conference co-chair Steve Boese said in a press release announcing the event. “We are proud to hold this long overdue ‘Women in HR Technology’ event, which will not only showcase more than 15 of the most successful women changing the industry, but also provide new insights for how other women can create their own professional roadmaps.”

Boese is correct when he says this event is long overdue. At Talent Tech Labs, we’ve long been actively supporting the women who are impacting talent acquisition technology.

The other new event was the “HR Hacklab,” guided by diversity consultant Joe Gerstandt and speaker/author Jason Lauritsen. Here, teams of designers and developers worked on brand-new HR tech solutions. This kind of on-the-spot creativity reminded me that the conference, which was built to facilitate leading-edge tools and companies, can see the value in trying new things.

Some of my greatest discoveries weren’t related to the showcased tools or sessions. Watching the transition many later-stage companies, like IBM, are undergoing to become more innovative was unbelievable. These organizations are observing what the early-stage companies are doing and following along with innovative measures themselves.

While I observed serious innovation in the earlier-stage companies, there were many companies trying to impact the same systems – namely, the applicant tracking system. As you may know from our ecosystem, the ATS is already a massive sector for innovation. While we did see some repetition in the startups showcased, one standout really – well, stood out.

laptopThat was the New Zealand-based Aotal, which walked me through the Talent App Store, a platform built to solve the HR technology problems employers face today. The exciting angle of this tool is its ability to identify, develop, and deploy small, pre-integrated apps that work alongside even the most rigid talent management systems. The apps are specifically built for one function, which means they provide necessary bridges in a company’s missing talent function. The Talent App Store also allows organizations to easily try new products by ensuring that existing data is seamlessly integrated into each new app.

While this concept has been tried in the past, the difference here is that the Talent App Store is not tied to any one ATS. The Talent App Store allows all the point solutions to connect together. If this can scale, it will be a boon to forward-thinking talent acquisition pros who genuinely want to tie best-of-breed solutions together to create their own process workflows (we discussed this a bit in volume 5 of our Trends Report).

The sessions themselves didn’t disappoint either. Elaine Orler, CEO and cofounder of Talent Function Group, discussed the burning question of what is trending in talent acquisition technology and what it could mean for modern recruiting initiatives. Orler talked about how to navigate all the newest technologies and how to understand which will meet the needs of candidates and employers.

To our delight, talent acquisition was a trending topic at the conference, as evidenced by this excerpt from Tim Sackett’s blog:

“A talent acquisition tech stack is starting to emerge, and the HR tech stack (HRIS core providers) folks are trying to stop this from happening by offering up their own watered-down, vanilla versions of what you really need. The reality is today, HRIS providers don’t offer up the same level of TA technology that you can get from TA-specific tech vendors. What I haven’t seen yet is the TA tech vendor community providing a model of what that TA tech stack looks like – the first one to do that effectively will have a huge advantage in positioning.”

Exhibitors Phenom People brought a dynamic team of talented leaders to share their belief in what it takes to transform the talent acquisition market. People are looking for inspired jobs that make them happy, and Phenom People has the desire to bring the next phenomenal hire to its clients, even if it means redefining the way we recruit.

The “Most Impressive Booth Presence Award” definitely goes to WayUp for its amazing dorm-room facade and team spirit. The huge team was highly energetic and really got their message across!

Finally, no HR Tech would be complete without a few after-hours meet and greets. This year, we stopped by the amazing dinner hosted by Jessica Miller-Merrell and Advanced Resources at RPM Steak for great conversation on new technology. And of course, our team, alongside Allegis, hosted our own dinner, attended by some of the most forward-thinking experts in talent acquisition.


This post originally featured on the Talent Tech Labs blog.

Jonathan Kestenbaum is the executive director of Talent Tech Labs.

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