2019 will go down in history as the year of conferences. It is the one year I will likely attend more conferences than ever before and gladly so. The recently concluded Tech HR conference hosted by People Matters revived my belief in conferences. With an outstanding lineup of speakers and amazingly curated sessions that ranged from masterclasses, workshops, talks, unconference areas, start-up pitches to panel discussions, this event had it all. I was spoilt for choices and the fear of missing out had me racing from one track to another. I realized that I still have to master the art of attending conferences and hopefully, this will be the year I do.
Per usual, I will focus on my top three takeaways from the event and stop raving about the conference (which is absolutely worth raving about).
- Creativity: I loved the overt focus on creativity and innovation that ran through the conference. Touted as one of the top five skills required in 2020 by most surveys, creativity is now more in demand than ever before. As James Taylor mentioned in his talk, “Creativity is about bringing ideas to the mind, innovation is about bringing ideas into the world. Innovation cannot happen without creativity.” In what is being referred to as the creativity crisis, only 1 in 4 people believe that they are living up to their creative potential. This is a large area of opportunity and organizations will increasingly face a pressure to create a workplace that embraces creativity. After all, creativity thrives in places where it is valued. James Taylor is a spectacular orator and one I would definitely recommend following.
- Machines & creativity: The reason creativity is being increasingly valued is because people believe that it is the one skill, that machines/AI cannot possibly possess. I had the privilege of attending a masterclass by Hod Lipson as he delved into some things that AI can and cannot do. He explained how deep learning now enables machines to create images of cats and human beings (and more) that do not exist. He went on to demonstrate how AI systems teach one another and get smarter at an exponential rate. If I was terrified of my worst AI nightmares coming true before, I am even more now. I am tempted to do an entire post on this one. However, for now, my short conclusion: machines can be creative so we need to find another skill set that will keep us employable (and alive). Elon Musk’s cat, anyone?
- People Analytics: This was my last big takeaway. Analytics has been discussed for a while, yet for strange reasons, HR is yet to wrap its head around leveraging data optimally. Most HR teams continue to complain about getting relevant data in place and having their multiple HR tools talk to each other. David Green took the audience through the nine dimensions required for excellence in people analytics along with the key skills required in people analytics leaders (surprisingly – communication, business acumen and consulting). Look below.
My biggest regret is not having spent enough time at the conference. I landed minutes after David Green finished his opening keynote, which I hear was one of the best talks of the conference and I left early to catch a flight back home. I also missed the workshops on Day 3, which everyone has been praising endlessly. I cannot wait for Tech HR 2020 in August. I promise to plan better then.