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The 18th annual HR Technology Conference kicked off yesterday with a keynote from Marcus Buckingham, best-selling author and founder of TMBC, who urged the audience to move away from a focus on performance toward a focus on people.

The theme of balancing technology and humanity resonated throughout the day, as speakers and panelists shared new ideas and discussed the latest innovations around tech and talent management — from predictive analytics to wellness technology to recruiting software.

Not attending this year, or missed out on a popular panel? Keep reading for the highlights from yesterday, follow @CornerstoneInc on Twitter and join the conversation with #HRTechConf!

HR Needs More Dynamic Tools

While tools can enhance HR's effectiveness, they can also limit it. As Buckingham emphasized in his presentation, organizations need tools that provide quality, usable data on individuals and the workforce — instead of current tools (like performance reviews) that are biased and unreliable. His keynote resonated with the audience of HR professionals, and people were quick to share their favorite parts of his talk.

Analytics Done Right

Of course, what's an HR technology conference without talk of big data? While there were a few specific panels focused on analytics yesterday, discussions on how to use data to improve talent management strategy bled into many conversations. Speakers and attendees alike jumped in to discuss why and how they're using analytics.

What's Work Without Fun?

Company culture was a popular topic of conversation throughout the day, as HR pros know that employee happiness relies on more than the latest technology. Judging by the creative swag at the booths and the crowd at The Wallflowers concert last night, we think it's fair to say that HR Tech Conference attendees don't just talk the talk when it comes to fostering a fun company culture — they walk the walk.