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HR Tech 2020 Conference Recap...Valuable HR Technology Insights for Our Clients

HR Tech has been the HR Technology industry’s leading independent conference for 20+ years, featuring an unrivaled cutting-edge agenda for HR and IT professionals from businesses of all sizes. The event’s primary focus is on driving HR success through technology, and intended for those looking to continuously optimize usage of current HR systems as well as those looking to buy.   If your organization has not attended in the past, it very well could be related to the traditional travel required and overall cost.  Regardless, Hickok & Boardman has it covered! Our HR technology consulting team regularly attends, and we are certain it will not be surprising to hear that this year’s event shifted to a virtual format for 2020.  Although a little less exciting to attend from home offices, the virtual format created the unique opportunity to fully leverage our resources and deliver a comprehensive review of the latest themes and trends from this marketspace.   Given the state of the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with protests for racial injustice across the country, it was no surprise that there was extensive discussion about how HR technology resources can be used to ensure that employees feel safe and healthy. We also learned about tools to help eliminate hiring bias and ensure DEI (diversity, equity & inclusion) within the workplace. We’ve organized our collective takeaways for our clients around the following five themes:

  1. Agility – 2020 has truly tested HR technology vendors’ ability to adjust their tools (or develop new tools) in response to the workplace impact of global and cultural events. Work automation platform Workato listed “agile HR” as their #1 HR best practice going forward. Here’s why: beginning with COVID-19, employers were forced to scramble to find a way to communicate effectively with employees who were no longer coming into a communal workplace. HR and HR Tech has had to be Resilient, Agile and Adaptable ! The subsequent economic ripple effect of the pandemic put pressure on payroll vendors to ensure data was accessible to clients applying for PPP loans. Our observation is that some providers answered with more agility than others! Next came the call from employers looking for tools to respond to the demand for DE&I resources—stemming from turmoil in the social landscape. Now, as the country (hopefully) inches back to full operations and employment, there is a greater need for solid talent management technology to support decision making under new circumstances.


  1. Talent Management – Relatively few employers use a comprehensive talent management suite, however for many, this HR functionality is fast becoming a “must-have” and we expect to see more companies invest in talent management tools. As the Sapient Insights Group (formerly Sierra-Cedar) noted in the debut of their 2020-2021 Annual HR Systems Survey, “This was the year that talent management paid its dues.” The survey found that organizations with high talent outcomes redistributed critical workforces, increased tech infrastructure, and increased salaries of essential roles. Alternatively, those with low talent outcomes reduced management salaries, furloughed/laid-off employees, and eliminated contract workers. For the last several years, market thought leaders