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The HR technology and practitioner community gathered earlier this week for the 16th annual HR Technology Conference. What has become a rite of passage for vendors, buyers, analysts and other interested parties has gotten bigger each year – a full 8,000 attendees showed up in Las Vegas this year.

It was Bill Kutik’s last year as the organizer for the event. While Bill moves on to focus on his must-read technology column for HR Executive magazine, he will be missed as the leader of the HR Tech Conference. There are few sights more impressive than seeing Bill swagger through the conference Expo Hall, glad-handing the exhibitors as he is trailed by his adoring legions.

While the conference will miss Bill’s leadership, it has a bright future in the hands of Steve Boese, who will chair the event going forward.

In terms of the 2013 HR Tech Conference itself, beyond being well-attended, it was, as usual, a swirling cauldron for professional networking, deal-making, innovation showcasing, vendor product showcasing, and – most critically – the best place to take the temperature of the HR industry as a whole.

Cornerstone was in the middle of all of this in Las Vegas. Too much happens in 3 days to cover in great detail, but here are some of the highlights from the conference (and beyond).

Consumer Technology Driving Expectations for Enterprise Software 

Looking at the remarkable slew of vendor product announcements coming out of the conference, a quick glance confirms what Cornerstone has been talking about for a while now. Given the mix of digital natives and digital immigrants now in the workplace, technology at work will increasingly become a tool that is interacted with, not reacted to. In other words, “redefining how employees can participate in functions that were traditionally in the domain of the core human resources team.”

Much of this trend flows from the “consumerization of the enterprise” that we have been talking about recently in the recent State of the Workplace Productivity survey. For example, the CSOD survey found that 58% of employees would use wearable technology if it enabled them to do their job better.

The consumerization / usability theme was echoed across the HR Tech Conference.

Making the Case for Social Productivity

HR folks have been talking about social networking and collaboration in the workplace for years. That is not new – but what we heard repeated at the 2013 HR Tech Conference was a move (finally!) to social productivity. Not a standalone application, but embedded in real HR and productivity processes. Ray Wang’s excellent conference wrap-up includes a note about this trend. He notes that social remains a key factor in software renewals, especially when “social features at the process level appear to gain the most traction and will shift as enterprise social networks evolve.”

In other words, let’s roll-out social tools that drive results – not just to create buzz or more work. A novel idea!

Walgreens Answers This Prickly Question: “How do you change the behavior of 240,000 people in a 112 year-old company?” 

On the first day of the conference, Cornerstone CEO Adam Miller presented with our client Walgreens, represented by Warren Lindley, DVP of Organizational Design and Effectiveness. The focus was on Walgreens’ amazing success story, both as a business and in terms of their talent management strategy.

Walgreens’ success comes in the context of our new world of work, which Adam described in terms of the new demands of the workforce (training and development is #1), as well as the consumerization of the enterprise ("We're bringing our own products to work and deciding what we want to use"). Adam noted that “we firmly believe that the expectation of the employee is dramatically shifting.”

So how has Walgreens developed a very successful talent management strategy in the face of this shifting employee landscape? To Warren Lindley, there are five keys to success here:

  • Culture;
  • Leadership;
  • Engagement;
  • Highly evolved talent infrastructure; and
  • Highly evolved learning infrastructure.

Warren went on to argue that HR technology is no longer about process automation; it's now about engaging the employee. And to get there, he noted that "I believe integration trumps 'flash'" when choosing a good technology partner.

The Walgreens presentation also highlighted their lessons learned in terms of selecting a pure Software-as-a-Service vendor in Cornerstone. Warren observed that when you’re choosing SaaS, you are making bets on the vendor’s:

  • Roadmap;
  • CTO;
  • Leadership; and
  • Culture.

These are bets that have paid off in the Walgreens-Cornerstone relationship.

From the “Tooting Our Own Horn” Desk: The Cornerstone Recruiting Cloud Named a Top HR Product

The Cornerstone Recruiting Cloud is a new approach to solving an old problem for recruiting professionals and career-minded employees alike. In a very short period of time, we have been able to build a world-class solution tailored to fit how organizations recruit today. Also, a special shout-out goes to our amazing Product Development team that has taken the Recruiting Cloud from zero to world-class in 18 months.