A tryst with HR & technology

Stech18When my colleagues first heard that I was headed for a two-day conference dedicated to technology in HR, they thought it a joke. Lunch table discussions began to revolve around how technology and HR have a strained relationship and that I was probably just going for a 2-day break. After all, the world of HR & technology had barely moved over the last couple of years. How very wrong they were!

One step inside the exposition hall at the SHRM Tech Conference 2018 taking place at Hyderabad and I was blown away. The hall introduced me to massive opportunities that technology could offer HR. From advanced AR/VR avatars, new-age attendance tracking mechanisms to innovative chatbots, the booths had it all. However, in an attempt to not take up too much real estate, I will focus on three of my favorite sessions. With over 30+ talks and report launches, this was an insanely hard choice.

My tryst with the conference began by walking in late for the keynote address (thank you delayed flights!). From what I did catch, I kicked myself for not having been there on time for what was probably the best talk of the conference. Vineet Nayar did a fantastic job of delivering a much needed wake-up call to HR pros in the room. He squarely laid blame on HR for not keeping up with the race. He urged the audience to put humans at the center of the solution/goal/problem. He strongly believes that HR holds the key to unleashing magic in the organization. It was an added advantage that Vineet is also a great storyteller who left a marked impression on everyone who was lucky to hear him speak. My two biggest takeaways – (1) technology is one of the many tools that are available to solve problems. It is a powerful tool but not the only one. (2) Take ownership. Stop blaming anyone but yourself (Yes, you – you fantastic HR pro) for the profession not being valued as it should be.

Niel Nickolaisen followed soon after to talk about creating value. It all begins with realizing that you do not have to be better than everyone else in every single aspect. Pick the organization differentiators and maintain parity on all others. An 80:20 split works just fine. He illustrated beautifully using examples from OC Tanner. Niel’s talk also touched upon the traits of an exceptional leader, recognition and ownership. This was a talk of many great takeaways, my favorite being the focus on building influential authority vs positional authority.

Given my love for discussions on diversity, it is only natural that the panel discussion on women in tech feature on this list. Dr. Ritu Anand was a refreshing change when she said that the passion with which you do your job should be all that matters, not your gender. I loved how she said – stop making a fuss about women in tech, just believe in yourself and make the barriers disappear. I’m not saying that complete equality exists but disproportionate focus may not be the best option. There are two quotes by my fellow blogger, Kavi that I must add here – ‘the conversation about Diversity is incomplete without “context “and working on contexts!’ and ‘the idea that there needs to be something done “to” women (only) to build diversity is such a travesty!’

I will end with a special mention to the very enjoyable session by Sunita Bhuyan on Music in a tech era. It was a perfect after lunch session that was soothing to the ears and had the perfect blend of music and learning. I must confess I spent hours listening to her music on YouTube post the conference.

Mettl also launched its Personality Risk Assessment to identify the dark traits in human beings at the conference. Given my skepticism of psychometric tests, this one piqued my interest. Mettl proposes this assessment for recruiting (apart from other areas) as it helps identify dark traits in a person before they cause wide scale damage. The study is based on 1900 professionals, which further increases my anxiety. I am yet to go over the report but least assured this one needs an entire post dedicated to it.

However, all talks and booths aside, here is the real reason I head to these conferences – connections. It is a once/ twice a year opportunity to connect to people beyond my little bubble and more importantly the blog squad. I learn more from the dissections and discussions in this little group than I do from the two days combined. The power of social media reinforces itself every time I meet these fantastic set of people. I come away bright-eyed, bushy-tailed with a resolve to work harder at maintaining my social media presence, staying connected with both people and information available in the wide network.

If you missed attending the conference, worry not. You can catch up on everything that took place at the event by checking #SHRMTech18 on Twitter.

Thank you SHRM, for without these fantastic conferences, I’d be stuck in my bubble unable to make the most of the world around me.

*I attended the SHRM Tech Conference 2018 as a part of the Blog Squad. Being a part of this little group and attending the SHRM conferences is an irreplaceable privilege and one that I cherish.*


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