HR Tech World

HR Tech World

Thoughts and Grass Skirts
@ HR Tech World, Paris

Andy Campbell,
HCM Strategy Director at Oracle @axcampbe


From user engagement through to the haka, Andy Campbell reviews HR Tech World from an Oracle perspective

Andy Campbell

Andy Campbell, HCM Strategy Director at Oracle

In my mind, for a conference to be truly successful it needs to have three key ingredients. First there needs to be some good content; speakers and presentations that are innovative and insightful. Second, it needs to be successful from a work perspective. It is all very well putting a lot of time and effort into a conference but the returns need to justify it. Lastly, and probably most importantly, it should be fun. Given the amount of time that we spend away from home it only seems fair that we should have the opportunity to enjoy ourselves. Fortunately, this year’s HR Tech World Congress in Paris delivered on all three counts.

There were a number of themes that I drew out from the event:

     As far as technology is concerned, the whole market has matured immeasurably.  


  • As far as technology is concerned, the whole market has matured immeasurably. Frankly every software vendor’s system looks good; there is no real differentiation in terms of usability, look and feel. Similarly mobile enablement is now a table stake, it is not an option. Analytics is becoming increasingly important, with much interest in predictive analytics and big data. Examples of really creative uses of such technology remain few and far between though. The case studies of actionable insights at ABN Amro and Walmart were notable exceptions.
  •  There is a growing ground swell of opinion that the ways in which we deliver feedback within our organizations has to reflect a more modern and digital world.  


  • User engagement was a key thread and mentioned by a number of speakers, most notably Yves Morieux, (who was excellent) and, as expected, Richard Branson’s messages about how people respond to freedom, flexibility and positive encouragement where sound. The whole area of collaboration was covered in many sessions as well, whether in the context of social learning or changing approaches to performance management. There is a growing ground swell of opinion that the ways in which we deliver feedback within our organizations has to reflect a more modern and digital world.     
  • One interesting theme was digital disruption and this was exemplified by David Shing (aka Shingy) who turned up two hours late, much to the obvious distress of his many fans in the blogsquad. The guy is a real digital guru, but then again you need to be if you want to get away with hair like his! His delivery was fantastic and the imagery to support his ideas was very impressive. Sadly however many of the disruptive ideas that he referred to came from the consumer world of viral videos / TV adverts and, whilst entertaining, left me with a slight feeling of ‘interesting, but what has that got to do with me’. Ho hum, no pleasing some people eh.

From a work perspective I can safely say that for Oracle the event was a roaring success. Engie spoke on the main stage about its journey to the cloud. I was amazed to hear that during its vendor evaluation it undertook some 80 workshops, giving testament to the thoroughness with which it reviewed the different options before choosing Oracle HCM Cloud. For an organisation with an SAP ERP platform this was a resounding endorsement.

I was really excited to work with Anand Subbaraman and present the very latest in Social Learning to a really appreciative audience. I spoke with a number of potential customers afterwards who were really enthused about what this might offer.

Working on the stand/demo booths at a conference can be a dreadful experience, but the Oracle pre-sales team at HR Tech were fantastic. They delivered in excess of 100 live demos, the last one being at 18.00 on the last day, true commitment! In addition, there were loads of executive briefings, analyst meetings, partner sessions and two exciting business start-ups as well, Kudoz and Withings, check them out. The whole stand had a great buzz about it for the duration of the event.

But it is the fun part that is best, possibly enhanced by the mojito bar (whose idea was that!). Most vendors had the usual mix of entertainment to drag poor unsuspecting punters onto their stand, along with the offer of branded pens or stress balls. The Oracle stand was a cut above with a chocolate and Halloween combo theme, which seemed to resonate well. The iPad magician was a great draw as well, something echoed on the main stage later in the day.  It was a brave call for the organizers to have a cyber-illusionist as the final keynote, but frankly I am a sucker for that stuff anyway and loved it. It did contrast nicely with the Shingy session and the whole theme of disruptive digital technology, so worked well. But for me as an ardent rugby fanatic the highlight of HR Tech was nothing to do with the above, it was the two guys doing the New Zealand haka, just brilliant! HR Tech, see you next year!


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