Op-Ed: HR Tech 2023: A Lesson in Learning from Each Other

HR Tech 2023

HR Technology Conference and Expo is known as the largest HR reunion and knowledge-sharing event—this year was no exception. 

During the five, action-packed days in Las Vegas, we conducted countless presentations and briefings, but more importantly, we spoke to thousands of you—HR practitioners—about the exciting opportunities ahead to develop HR service delivery models to help your people and businesses grow. 

My favorite moment of the entire conference was when you cheered with us when we announced that 50 percent of HR organizations are now viewed as strategic partners—this is up from 46 percent the previous year. After almost no increase in that metric over the last six years, it’s wonderful to see that HR organizations are finally being recognized and relied upon as strategic business partners. I loved hearing your stories of growth, change, and innovation grounded in business outcomes that are important to your executives. Let’s hit our goal of 55 percent by 2025! 

You cheered when we announced that 50 percent of HR organizations are now viewed as strategic partners! 

The big themes that emerged this year were often powerful concepts hidden in seemingly “plain sight.” Here are five key themes from this year’s conference

Five key themes from HR Technology Conference and Expo 2023

1. Artificial intelligence and humanity. 

The top theme throughout the conference this year wasn’t so much artificial intelligence (AI) itself (although the words were on every announcement, banner, and sign), but rather the delicate balance our industry is trying to find between embracing artificial intelligence and keeping humanity, in all its good and bad forms front and center in our conversations. Everyone acknowledges that new forms of AI, like the recent breakthrough in generative AI, will provide efficiencies in the workplace that could increase productivity and reduce workloads. Everyone also acknowledged that the ethical use of AI and AI-generated recommendations requires more conversation, education, and a good dose of practical oversight throughout our industry. Vendors and buyers need to have an open dialogue on where and how AI has been embedded throughout their tools.

2. HR’s workload is increasing.  

No matter who we talked with, the overwhelming response to why HR professionals traveled to this year’s conference was to get a better handle on their HR technology environment. Since 2020, we’ve seen a 31 percent increase in the average number of HR modules in use in our research—highlighting that businesses continue to find value in their investments. Still, buyers and users alike are asking for more simplified work environments with real-time data and instant access to the information they need to do their jobs. Much of HR’s workload today is focused on creating service delivery models that provide efficient and simplified work environments to avoid spending hours responding to requests from employees, managers, executives, and even the government, regarding hard-to-access data.  

3. Frontline managers are finally getting the attention they deserve.

There were lots of conversations and solutions focused on empowering managers and supervisory-level roles with data and tools that would give them more time and resources. Change is a significant factor for all employees, especially frontline managers, and the amount of change and high expectations they face daily impacts employee morale and retention. Frontline managers in any industry are critical, and this year, much of the focus on new generative AI solutions, both stand-alone and embedded, focus on supporting frontline managers with creating performance feedback, answering tricky questions, running coaching scenarios, and analyzing employee sentiment. 

4. Payroll is on everyone’s mind. 

In our research this year, payroll solutions is the number one HR module planned for replacement. So, it wasn’t surprising to hear buyers and vendors alike talking about payroll innovations. Big topics included global payroll options, pay on demand (earned wage access), time and payroll integrations, AI-driven payroll audits, and the tightening labor market for skilled payroll professionals. Buyers were interested in both technology and services that could help them streamline the payroll process, keep up with regulations, and connect in new ways with their employees. 

5. Realizing the value of a global HR community.

We sat down with customers and colleagues who traveled from all over the world to join the conversation and share their wisdom. In every workshop, session, and dinner discussion, supportive HR community leaders offered guidance and lessons learned from their very own experiences with topics ranging from AI ethics codes to employee handbooks. With 54 percent of HR technology roles having three years or less experience in their current roles—our ability to share and transfer knowledge will be critical over the next few years. 

With 54 percent of HR technology roles having three years or less experience in their current roles—our ability to share and transfer knowledge will be critical over the next few years.

We also wept with many as heartfelt support was shared for all our colleagues and HR leaders impacted by recent global events, causing them to carry their grief and fear for loved ones throughout the conference. Our global community holds great value and a wealth of opportunities to learn from each other, ensuring that we don’t inadvertently lose our humanity as we transform HR through innovation. 

Download Now: The UKG Frontline Worker Playbook [Free eBook]

About Sapient Insights Group: 
Sapient Insights Group is an independent research and advisory organization that focuses on providing primary research data gathered directly from the practitioner community, a “Voice of the Customer” perspective. Our research approach is vendor-agnostic and open to all organizations for participation. By maintaining a data-driven approach to understanding the HR technology market, we are able to provide a recognized, objective viewpoint.