Hunting for Hidden Gems at HR Tech

I will be packing my bags and heading tomorrow to our HR Technology® Conference in Las Vegas, which kicks off Sunday night with a reception and Monday morning with Don Tapscott’s opening keynote. (I’m definitely looking forward to hearing Tapscott’s latest thinking on the principles behind “radical openness.” Some of you may recall he opened our conference four years ago.)

This year’s event is slated to break all previous records, both from an attendance and exhibitor standpoint. In addition, the press release distributed earlier this week points out that there will be a record number of new products unveiled there. (The release mentions 68, but there will no doubt be more.)

168769841As you might expect, the release includes some familiar names in its headline: ADP, Workday, Mercer, Ultimate, Paychex, CareerBuilder and SHL. But if you dig a little deeper into the copy, you’ll also run across a significant number of names you probably have never heard of. Just a few that were new to me: Blissbook, Bluewater Learning, Clear Company, Cuzie, Drumtalk, Herd Wisdom, HireFuel, Jostle, Prositions, Reppify, Spotlite, Vestrics and Ving.

(In that same vein, there were quite a number of unfamiliar names that entered our Top HR Products of the Year competition—the winners of which will be recognized at the Monday luncheon—including some that made our cut.)

I’m sure there are a number of ways I could interpret all these “fresh faces” (at least to me), but one obvious takeaway is that innovation continues to be alive and well in the HR technology vendor community. True, a significant share of it is occurring among many of the big players. But there’s unarguably a very healthy dose of it invigorating some of the lesser-known entities as well — vendors (some start-ups, some not) we may never have heard of, but perhaps ones we’d be well-served to better get to know.

There are a lot of reasons to be excited about next week’s conference, which brings together everyone who has anything to do with HR technology (including almost all of the key influencers). They include the great line-up of keynoters, extraordinary panels and case studies and the HR Tech Talks (which are new to this year’s event). Then there’s the “Thanks for the Memories” party for conference co-chair Bill Kutik on Tuesday evening, with this being his last year in that capacity.

But for me, almost always near the top of the list is the opportunity to uncover some of the hidden gems (as far as solutions and tools are concerned) that are frequently on display in the expo hall and sometimes find their way into conversations. And if the line-up of new-product announcements at this year’s event are any indication, they should be plentiful in 2013.