Las Vegas from the HRD seat

What a busy and incredible week at HR Tech in Las Vegas. The past few days here at the Venetian, I have been struck by the transformation of HR over the last 5 years, where we are now is almost unrecognizable to its former self.
 
The future of HR is awash with AI/robots/machine learning and endless analytics tools that provide many levels of transformation. Robots are everywhere; in presentations, USBs and cute giveaways for the kids. Making robots friendly to all seems to be everyone’s game, not discussed as openly, is a flip side to this strategy that will perhaps lead HR back into the more familiar territory of redundancies and upskilling. Many commentators invested energy in reassuring us, endlessly, that the pace of transition is slow and our workers will be upskilled into more interesting jobs, avoiding the repetitive tasks of old.  For us, HR directors and business partners, I think we have been here before. 
 
Analytics and predictive analytics continue as hot topics, although I’m not convinced anyone quite knows what to do with them yet. Despite this, I could not ignore the excitement in the room, as the future of HR was envisioned as one that can change our working lives, and for the better.  Thought leadership focused on the importance of moving with the tide and welcoming the future of technology and data with solutions to overcome current HR problems.
 
An interesting talk that embodies this message, spoke about encouraging HR to embrace experiments; Easier to get up and running, and a licence to bypass many of the restrictions brought on by traditional approaches, including stakeholder management, procurement and other internal barriers. A strong emphasis on moving in this direction is to obtain data in order to make your business case. Overall, it sounds like a clever way forward for many who may struggle to convince multiple stakeholders of the benefits of moving to agile ways of working.  
 
What was uplifting about HR Tech was how ready HR is to embrace change, adopt new technologies and demand more from their providers. There is a strong sense of HR demanding what it needs and wants from its providers with none of the usual compromises that were traditionally expected or, indeed accepted. A strong energy around start-ups and young companies who can offer these high levels of innovation.  HR is ready for transformation and is taking brave moves, in practically all areas and the sales data proves this – HR is the faster adopter across the enterprise to move to cloud.
 
My final thought leaving Las Vegas was that the wonderful and yet the frightening thing about being in HR is that we have the power to transform working lives. What a power that is to hold, but every time you have the opportunity to transform something there is the possibility of wonderful outcomes, but sometimes it comes with unintended consequences. 
 
My hope for our profession is that we remember, in our pursuit of AI, robotics and innovative technologies, that there are real lives behind our every decision and they are counting on us to do the right thing.
 
Let’s not forget our people on the digitization journey.  Let’s put them right in the heart of our every decision, building our transformation centred on their greater good.