Last year at this time, I was eagerly preparing for the 2009 HR Technology conference as an attendee. I was excited to finally meet many of the people I had been conversing with on Twitter. In fact my first blog post after the conference was about the tweeps instead of about the conference. Boy did I take some flak from Bill Kutik about that.
Mike Krupa spent his entire first blog post listing every friend he’d made on Twitter (known as a “Tweep”), whom he finally got to meet in person in Chicago (becoming a “Peep”). He hardly mentioned the conference content, even though he works full time in HR technology. I was furious and called him on it.
His reply was telling and withering (I paraphrase): Look, HR technology conferences come and go. But my network of friends and acquaintances is what I depend on to get my work done, and they’re a lot more important than any conference.
Yup, still applies to this year’s conference. It was great to see so many of my tweeps from last year and meet many, many more people I have met on Twitter since the last year’s conference. Once again I met CEOs, HR Bloggers, Industry Titans, Consultants, HR Professionals and Techies. I can’t think of any other conference where you have such easy access to such a diverse group of people.
Unlike last year where I was just an attendee, this year I attended as a speaker and a blogger. Loved the respite (and free food) in the Press Room by the way. As a speaker I was fortunate enough to participate on the blogger panel and assist Laurie Ruettimann with Twitterversity. More on these topics in later post. Last year after the conference I posted some thoughts on my blog for next year’s conference:
Chicago: Been there, done that. How about someplace else?
With the now pervasive use of Twitter and live Blogging, I believe the conference should offer affordable or no cost Wi-Fi. I’ve been to volunteer run tech conferences that cost a couple of hundred dollars for the week that offer free Wi-Fi for conference attendees.
Make sure the conference facilities are not a big black hole for cell phone coverage. McCormick Place (almost) completely blocked out cell data coverage from AT&T.
Embrace the use of Twitter at the conference. How great would it be during keynotes and sessions if one of the big screens was showing the live tweets as they came in.
Wrangle up some actual customers who are willing to demo some of the really cool technologies they are using.
So how did I do? Conference was still in Chicago, we had free Wi-Fi (YES!), cell phone coverage seemed better, Twitter was very much embraced and the Workday booth had customers working hand in hand with Workday employees (very smart of Workday). Congratulations to the conference for making some of these changes. Next year the conference will be in Vegas baby.
Okay, onwards and upwards. Some observations of the 2010 conference:
- Naomi Bloom was sorely missed at the conference but we all understood and supported her reasons for not attending.
- The opening party was a great opener to the conference.
- The Oracle booth was mighty busy with people wanting a test drive of Fusion.
- Lexy Martin blew us away again with her data from the 13th Annual CedarCrestone HR Systems Survey.
- Gretchen Alarcon held her own with Bill Kutik with the discussion and demo of Fusion despite a couple of software glitches.
- Jason Averbook did a good job “parachuting” in to replace Naomi in the Great Technology Debate with Jim Holincheck. However, I think it’s time for Jason to retire his catch phrase of “LinkedIn and Facebook know more about your employees than you do”.
- The Blogger Insights panel was off the charts. Okay maybe I am a bit biased on this one.
- The Hyatt Regency Chicago is too far away from McCormick Place.
- Laurie Ruettimann did a great job with Twitterversity but Twitter’s refusal to sign up many of the new users during the session was a bummer. With a 100+ people trying to sign up for Twitter with probably the same IP from the free Wi-Fi, I’m guessing Twitter thought they were being spammed.
- The vendors sure do know how to throw good parties.
- The Data Integration session by Jac Fitz-enz was very interesting to me but content was very heavy and I noticed more than a few glazed over looks.
- The Awesome New Technologies general session was awesome but some of the presenters were great and some not so much. Aquire nailed their demo of InSight, SocializedHR demo of the Social Identity Report was a bit controversial and Versult didn’t seem to win over the crowd with their demo of versobile.
- The stuff that happens behind the scenes (private vendor meetings, briefings, one-on-one conversations) is just as important as the conference and might not have happened without the conference.
- The Sonar6 booth was the bell of the expo hall.
I will tackle some of these bullet points in more detail in an upcoming blog post.
Don’t forget to listen to the HR Happy Hour show from the conference where I single-handedly saved the show from a technology meltdown by starting up the BlogTalkRadio control panel from my iPhone. Okay I might be exaggerating just a wee bit but listen in and you be the judge. To our utter amazement it was the AT&T network on my iPhone that worked when hotel internet and Sprint 3G/4G cards failed.
Once again Bill Kutik and Dave Shadovitz put on a fantastic conference.
p.s. Special shout-out to some of the tweeps I got to meet this year: Meg, Amy, William, Dwane, Leighanne, Andrew, Afton, Lexy, Josh, Chris and many others.