Rhonda Marcucci, founder of Gruppo Marcucci (GPM), is a respected industry observer, speaker and author of articles on topics pertaining to the HR and Benefits Administration technology and outsourcing industry. For up-to-the-minute insights from industry conferences, follow Rhonda on Twitter..
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Observations from HR Tech 2012
Posted on 10/11/2012
The Gruppo Marcucci team was in full force at the 15th annual HR Technology Conference & Exposition in Chicago (Oct. 8-10), dividing our team and our time among the sessions, expo floor and one-on-one meetings with attendees and exhibitors. Immediately following the closing session we sat down to debrief and share our observations about what’s new, what’s not and industry trends. Following are some of our collective thoughts.
“Social” was a key conference theme and we’re sensing a shift in perception about social media – moving from concerns about time wasted on Facebook to social media as a tool, both externally and as a key component of some HR Technology software, for collaboration and ease of sharing collective knowledge within companies and across their respective industries. While we think it will be a while before companies fully embraces social concepts, it’s a start and that’s a good thing given the comfort level young people entering the workforce have with social media.
While Software as a Service (SaaS) feels “old” to us, we were reminded of its relative immaturity, specifically with regard to contract negotiations. What we saw and heard at the conference confirmed our observation that there are numerous problems with SaaS contracts, including that if HR departments choose to purchase SaaS with no oversight (understandably an attractive concept to HR departments) they may pay as much as 30 percent more than they should. Unlike many other products/industries, the price of SaaS is not dropping as more and more people buy it. (We invite others to comment on why SaaS is defying this standard pricing model.) We advocate for HR folks to admit they are not good negotiators and ask others in the company to join them in the SaaS purchase process (procurement /IT). The outcome will be a win-win; HR gets the products they want in a timely manner and their Finance/Procurement or IT colleagues can help secure a better priced product.
Befitting a technology conference, we were happy to take home information on USB flash drives and chip cards. While not a new concept, it was great to see more exhibitors using this technology to market their services. Not only did it lighten our load, the format offered the added value of more extensive information, links and video demos that paper can’t provide. (We also applaud the environmental friendliness of this trend!)
In spite of some dire predictions of employers dumping benefit programs in response to the Affordable Care Act, leading benefits industry players agree that in the continuing war for talent, benefits remain a major attraction and there’s no sign of any significant change of direction or thinking in the near future.
Finally, we were very pleased to see so many major players represented at the conference. Not only has this raised the bar for the HT Tech conference, but it signals that HR technology is gaining in importance in the larger human resource management scope. While this is good news, we continue to hear service providers promising that their product will “solve all your problems.” We caution that HR technology enhances people’s ability to solve problems; it is not in of itself the solution. Thought and reasoning remain important elements to product usage and implementation.
Gruppo Marcucci (GPM), a division of Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc., provides outsourcing intelligence and associated consulting to stakeholders in the Benefits and HR Technology & Outsourcing industry. Our in-depth understanding of the service provider market and our vast experience sourcing and implementing solutions is key to our clients achieving full operational success.
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