HRevolution 2010 – What happened to the Tech Talk?

Posted by: on Jun 21, 2010 | 10 Comments

Yes I know I am very late in blogging about my thoughts on HR Technology at HRevolution 2010.  I have been staring at this blog post for weeks trying to figure out what to say.  The problem is that I am trying to write about something that well…didn’t happen so I’m giving up and finally finishing this post.

In case you missed it, Ben Eubanks hosted the HRevolution Carnival of HR over at his fantastic upstartHR blog.  Ben’s Carnival seems to be the most thorough roundup of thoughts regarding HRevolution.  By my count there were 45 blog posts mentioned in this Carnival.  I read every single post and guess what? If you set aside social media and mobile technology, only 2 people mentioned technology in their blog post.  At the conference, Bill Kutik, Bryon Abramowitz and I were co-session leaders of the HR Technology session.  We did the usual introductions, made a couple of comments about HR technology and then opened it up to the crowd of about 25 people for questions.   The session mostly centered around Abra HRMS, some questions about Taleo and a request for information about recruiting technology vendors for small companies. Questions were asked and answers were given so I hopefully some people walked away with new technology information.  However, I sensed that many of the session attendees did not even know where to begin to ask HR technology questions.

Let me be clear that this blog post is in no way a criticism of the HRevolution conference, the conference organizers or the conference participants. The focus of the conference was not on technology and I had a great time, learned lots and was able to connect and re-connect with wonderful people.   But what my experience at the conference does tell me is that we still have a long way to go to get HR Practitioners to think about technology.  Unfortunately I do not have any earth shattering ideas right now on how to approach this.   I do think I will reach out to my session co-hosts Bill and Bryon to brainstorm ideas for getting more discussions going with HR Practitioners. Then I will reach out to some of the HRevolution attendees for their thoughts as well.

If you attended HRevolution, did you have the same experience as I did regarding HR Technology discussions or something different?  Do you have any ideas for me on how to engage HR Practitioners in technology discussions?  Come on, help a guy out here.


  1. Naomi Bloom
    June 22, 2010

    Again with no disrespect of the folks who attended, most HR folks (not to mention most of those who have worked for HR tech vendors in anything but a hardcore product design/development capacity, need a thorough introduction to (1) how HRM looks from a systems analysis, models-based perspective; (2) the history and current state of applying IT to HRM; (3) how #2 changes as you increase the number of complexity factors with which you’re dealing, e.g. size, globalness, number/variety of lines of business, etc.; and (4) the lifecycle from strategic HRM delivery systems planning (Follow The Yellow Brick Road) through building/operating that delivery system. Social tech and mobile are interesting and useful tactics, but they’re SUCH a small part of the story.

  2. Bill Kutik
    June 22, 2010

    Why am I always following The Bloom in blog comments? The woman is everywhere. How does she find the time?

    Mike, I felt just as you did at HRevolution: disappointed by the lack of interest in technology. What you failed to mention was that among those 25 (I counted 27) out of 130 attendees, only four people admitted to having any contact with HR-specific technology, as opposed to the Word docs and spreadsheets many small companies use to manage HR.

    I think first it was a function of smaller company attendance, hence all the Abra users, the smallest company HRMS out there. And second, HR’s historic reluctance not to get smart about technology unless they have to. They’d rather leave it to people like you.

    As a measure of their indifference, Trish McFarlane gave me a list to invite all the attendees to join the HR Technology Conference group on LinkedIn, where if I do say so myself (though others have said it first), we are having the best HR technology discussions on the Internet. Very few joined. It any of your readers would like to, just go to http:/

    This historic reluctance has been the foundation of the HR Technology Conference from the beginning 13 years ago: Teaching the senior executives and generalists how to get business benefits out of technology. Glad you’ll be there in September furthering the cause.

    Now if I could just straighten out my WordPress account so my picture appeared with my posts!

    • Michael Krupa
      June 22, 2010

      Bill – Go over to to register your WordPress account and upload a Picture. Then when you leave comments on people’s blogs, your picture (from Gravatar) will show up. Now go read my blog post from today for other Tech Tips!

  3. Bryon Abramowitz
    June 22, 2010

    To build upon Naomi and Bill’s comments I’m continually amazed that more than 15 years following the commercialization of the internet there continues to be newly minted HR professionals with an aversion to technology. HR people tend to fall into three camps; those who get technology (very small minority), those who accept technology (growing), and those who shy away from anything technology-related (majority). With a full generation of new Gen Y employees in the workplace I would have expected that HR would have more fully grasped the power of technology and the impact it can have on business, but clearly this has not happened.

    Not that I’m looking to point fingers, but where can we focus our efforts to help better prepare HR professionals to leverage the tools at their disposal? Should SHRM have a technology component included as part of the SPHR? Should the colleges and universities have a larger emphasis on HR Technology (like RIT does where Steve Boese teaches)? I’m open to suggestions, because in order to be a more strategic partner to the business HR needs to better harness the tools available to them much like their counterparts in Marketing, Finance, and other functions.

  4. Bill Kutik
    June 22, 2010

    My glib answer, Bryon, is have them all attend the HR Technology Conference. Or IHRIM. That’s where the most teaching goes on.

    Fact is lots of B-Schools allow dual majors in HR and IT. Try having them compete with Finance for debt-laden students looking to make a calling. But Steve’s class at RIT — like the one Jun Cruzat teaches at Berkeley — is in the extension school, the new euphemism for night school, not the regular program. SUNY Buffalo has some good programs.

    Yes, I blame it all on SHRM for perpetuating a 1980 view of HR. SHRM should add a technology component to its conference, as well as to its certification program.

  5. Naomi Bloom
    June 22, 2010

    Just because someone has ridden in a car since their birth doesn’t mean they’re ready to drive. And the same goes for growing up with technology. Just because you’ve got an iPod, iPhone, iPad, seventeen social networking accounts, and are tweeting up a storm does not mean that you have a clue about enterprise technology and the lifecycle of strategic planning through selection and deployment and on to operations and ROI. I think we make a terrible mistake by thinking that our young colleagues have a clue just because they’re digital natives. So, the basics are still the basics, and a course like Steve’s should be a requirement for any degree that’s connected to any aspect of HRM. And shame on SHRM for not making this a major part of the SPHR. The sad thing is that IHRIM has worked so hard at developing a certification program, and SHRM should be promoting it aggressively. I do have a concern that it’s coverage is not state-of-the-art when it comes to the architectural/object model aspects of enterprise HRM software nor when it covers the various steps in the lifecycle of applying IT to HRM. But it’s certainly a good starting point and, with some energy from folks like you and Mike, it could be improved further.

  6. Michael Krupa
    June 22, 2010

    Naomi – I definitely think that SHRM and IHRIM need to partner more effectively when it comes to HR Technology. You are so right about the difference between personal technology (iPhone, iPad, social networking) and Enterprise Technology.

    Bill – Interesting and disappointing to hear that very few HRevolution attendees joined the HR Technology Conference LinkedIn group. Even if the reach is small right now I am glad that Steve and Jun are out there trying to educate HR on technology. It almost seems like you need a session at the conference to remind HR Executives that HR Technology education needs to be part of their HR DNA and not an afterthought when they are working on implementing new HR systems.

    Bryon – I think the answer to your question on focusing our efforts is “all the above” or “all the below” in your case. This is not a simple problem with a simple solution. When KI works with HR, do you do any type of a technology education or readiness evaluation?

  7. Bill Kutik
    June 22, 2010

    Did your advice work, Mike?

    • Michael Krupa
      June 22, 2010

      It worked! Nice to see the real Bill Kutik.

  8. Bryon Abramowitz
    June 22, 2010

    @Bill – We can now all now see your smiling mug on Mike’s blog.

    @Naomi – I agree 1000%

    @Mike – Absolutely! Particularly when considering introducing new technology into an organization.