HR Tech: Building the Expo and Software

One of my favorite parts of the HR Technology conference is walking the expo floor with Steve Boese before it opens and taking pictures. It’s a treat to spend time with Steve and hear his take on how HR Tech is evolving each year. I especially love watching the expo go from an empty shell to a vibrant display of people and possibilities.

It starts with boxes being delivered by a huge conveyor belt to a staging area where they are sorted and moved to the right area.

Forklifts weave through the maze, swerving, stopping, and scooting through the tumble of people and gear. Then teams of professionals begin unpacking and building. Crews hang gigantic logos from the ceiling using cherry-pickers. Others use pulley systems raise the banners from the ground. It’s organized chaos and impossible to make sense of at first.

Building an expo is a great metaphor for how software and solutions are built. It’s just that software is created with code and information instead of power drills and forklifts. And like the expo booths, the software is just the beginning. The booths are great. But it’s the conversations and people that make the expo and the software a success.

To make any tool work effectively, you have to understand what you want to do with it and how it works in the environment you are using it.

HR software can make things easier and faster, offer more effective processes, provide invaluable insights, and change the work and how people do it. Yet, no matter how great the design, features, and automation, it’s essential to understand how the tools and people relate to one another. While maybe someday there will be forklifts without drivers, there won’t ever be HR without humans.

As long as people work in organizations, it’s essential to understand how these tools work, what they are like to use, what data they collect and need to work, and what happens if people don’t or won’t use them. Every one of us has ignored the incessant pulse surveys, ‘forgot’ to fill out the CRM, and wondered if the latest performance management scheme really helped or just created more work we wish we didn’t have to do.

So, as you explore the HR Technology Expo and talk to people about the interesting and amazing new tools, remember all software depends on users to be successful.