HR Technology Conference & Expo – your shopping guide

The annual HR Technology Conference & Expo (HR Tech) show in Las Vegas is a go-to event for HR professionals, software vendors and integrators. Usually, there are 250-300 vendors exhibiting, thousands of side meetings, great vendor parties/dinners, etc. to make the 3 or so days go by well.

You can go to a technology show and hope something serendipitous impacts you or you can get proactive and make the most of it. I attend this event most years and file a post-event piece that recaps the more notable vendor encounters. I can’t be there this year but I can still be your virtual vendor guide. While this listing is not complete, it should keep you busy on the exhibit floor.

Before I identify individual vendors you should check out, I want to recommend a cluster of vendors that should get you thinking big thoughts and imagining how radically different your HR processes could be.

Five vendors you must not miss

Specifically, I recommend you meet with HireVue, Entelo, Smashfly, Montage and Pymetrics. These five firms will change your perspective about how recruiting should work.

HireVue’s Intelligent Assessment technology analyzes thousands of digital data points it collects when a jobseeker completes a 15 minute video interview. Montage also does video interviewing but it also possesses SMS (text message) interview support as well (If you have time, also check out WePow). Entelo has an in-memory database of some 300 million potential jobseekers that its various recruiting tools access. It also has a new AI tool that checks for exclusionary or discriminating language in your firm’s job descriptions, communiques to job seekers, etc. Smashfly brings a CRM and marketing perspective to identifying, wooing and closing jobseekers for your firm. Pymetrics has some AI powered analytics to take bias out of the recruiting process and improve the quality of hire at the same time. They can also give you a peek at what recruiting looks like without resumes.

If all you do is take the time to learn what these five firms have/do, your HR Tech visit will be worthwhile.

And, if the Smashfly booth is swamped, go check out Brazen. Its recruitment marketing solution is quite revolutionary too.

The best of the rest

And, there are other vendors to check out. In no particular order, check out these firms:

Infor – Infor has been remaking a number of their product lines to be multi-tenant cloud suites that also have AI and other capabilities native to the solution. Their HCM Cloud Suite is now ready for prime time. Besides the Coleman AI technology, they also have a number of other analytic capabilities already present in the solution.

SageSage acquired Fairsail, a vendor that’s been a presence at many recent HR Tech shows. Fairsail, now Sage People, has been functionally enhanced and is being readied for a more global footprint. The solution will likely be cross-sold into the Intacct customer base (another firm Sage recently acquired). Expect the Sage team to discuss Sage People, Sage Payroll, and more as Fairsail becomes a key piece of their larger suite of solutions for medium and larger sized businesses.

MicrosoftMicrosoft ‘s name will likely pop up many times at the event. Their PaaS/IaaS and other tools/capabilities are running under a growing number of products. They’ve also inked a partnership with Ceridian for Global Payroll and the Microsoft Dynamics 365 product line.

OC TannerOC Tanner may have a better understanding of engagement, culture, rewards, recognition, etc. than most firms. If you look past all the cool things they have to reward people with, their approach to helping companies prosper is interesting.

Papaya Global – The innovation keeps moving along in this interesting Israeli-based HR firm. The company’s core competency in helping firms expand global operations is now being supplemented with new of enhancements in compliance, payroll and AI.

Joyous HR – This one’s brand new. Michael Carden, a founder of Sonar6, has a new firm. This time it’s focused on reinventing the performance management content/process/etc. area. I tell you this as Sonar6 was a real disrupter at prior HR Tech shows and if Michael and history repeat themselves, it could get interesting.

CSODCornerstone On Demand has fleshed out their HCM suite in recent years. While its roots are in LMS, the growth in the application suite is impressive. Check out their latest LMS enhancements as well as the depth in their other applications. But…be warned. They are hawking themselves around the investment community.

Docebo – Here’s an interesting LMS firm with Italian roots. That said, their approach is cool enough that Ceridian recently allied with them for LMS functionality.

Ceridian – Ceridian has been on a major transformation kick for the last several years. The native cloud (and multi-tenant) solution of Dayforce is the engine behind the transformation. Years ago, Dayforce wasn’t a fully complete suite – today, the robustness is there and the remaining solution gaps are minimal.

Crowded Crowded gets credit for trying to help companies get value from that mountain of (often obsolete and unused) ATS (applicant tracking system) data. If you’ve got a lot of info in your ATS that’s aging like a fine wine, check them out.

MOVE Guides – If your firm is thinking of global expansion, you can do it the hard way or let MOVE Guides take a ton of the hard work off HR’s plate.

Textio – If you’re not getting the quality and quantity of job applicants that you need/desire, maybe the problem is job description. Textio technology analyzes your copy and makes suggestions that should improve your recruiting results.

Now, of course, you should stop in and get the latest word from the big solution providers. I didn’t include them because I figured you won’t miss their gigantic booths at the show. And, for all of the other 2-300 vendors exhibiting at the show, brief me before next year’s show.


HR software shoppers need a game plan. When you go to a show like HR Tech, you need be strategic in your thinking and conscientious in the way you use your time. I’d recommend that you:

  • Look for a big HR/HCM suite as the core of your solution set. While every HR team needs some best of breed solutions, you have to minimize the total number of integrations you’ll have to support. Don’t create a dog’s breakfast of HR solutions that you can’t maintain or support well. To keep yourself honest, decide where the HR system of record will reside and make sure you don’t vary too far and too often from this.
  • Avoid love affairs with shiny baubles. It’s great that a vendor has an interesting analytic app and/or a cool Alexa demo. However, the presence of that alone is no reason to choose a given solution. Make sure the core capabilities are there first before using the shiny new add-ons as a deal tie-breaker.
  • Only buy solutions that are real. I know this is obvious but I must remind folks to only buy what actually exists and is in general release. I don’t care if your favorite vendor has promised new capabilities will be available ‘soon’, ‘soon’ could be never. Unless your lawyer comes to the show with you to get a million contractual provisions in place that you’re your promised capabilities a reality, don’t do this deal based on future-ware.
  • Few HR solutions are truly global. No one makes (nor is it cost effective to do so) a single global payroll software product. But even some of the new AI based analytics need adjustments to eliminate different cultural needs found in different parts of the world. So, even if a vendor will take your money and say their cloud solution is accessible around the world, accessibility is not the same as compliant, viable and correct in every country. Buyer beware.
  • Look for products and vendors that don’t need big integrators or integration projects. Cloud solutions should be cheaper and faster to implement than those on-premises products you used to have. Steer clear of vendors that want you to use an expensive, third party firm to get implemented.
  • Mind your cash flow. Vendors that want pre-paid multi-year deals should be avoided. You should also look for vendors that don’t require any subscription or implementation fees until after you’re up and running on the service. For some deals, it’s okay to do a 50% down at signing and the remainder at go-live.

I expand on some of these themes in the second part of this guide.

Image credit – via Montage


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