HR Tech Europe – The Show Across The Pond

This year, I had the pleasure of attending the HR Tech Europe show in Amsterdam for the first time.  It’s easy to see why HR leaders, especially those who run HR Shared Services or HR Service Delivery teams, would be willing to fly from around the globe for the show.  And it’s not just to visit Amsterdam.  Marc Coleman and his team have put together a show that has grown in leaps and bounds in the last three years, and offers some serious value to those who make the trip.

First, the atmosphere is one that every HR leader begging to be taken seriously should celebrate.  A professional atmosphere, free of boondogglers and junketeers, marked by HR leaders dressed for a business conference, and vendors attired to match.  I saw only one booth (and honestly can’t recall who it was) that went with the blue-jeans-and-tshirt look, and they seemed uncomfortable with their choice.  Not to say that approach can’t work, but it wasn’t the atmosphere for this particular event.  Very professional environment with an emphasis on conversations, not trinkets.

Second, the level of content in the sessions was very impressive.  Seeing Naomi Bloom speaking from the same stage Mark Hurd would later use was another fine example of the esteem in which HR thought leaders are held with this event.  (My favorite part of Naomi’s session was her early announcement that there was no need to take notes, as her slides AND a start kit for building a business plan would be shared through the event site.  Putting slides up is great.  Putting extra content up is genius and generous.)  Sarah White of Accelir hosted a session on innovation shared some great ideas that are coming from the HR tech space.  Josh Bersin sharing his insights on the work enviornment of the future and Jason Averbook on the shift of user experience are great examples of the incredible insights available as well.

Third, the attendee list itself was quite impressive.  HR leaders who know how to run their practice like a business talking to vendors and each other, sharing ideas and challenges, ready for the next great idea.  Big names like Workday wowing crowds at their booth with their latest innovations.  Unconference sessions with Bill Boorman, John Sumser, Michael Tanenbaum and others, digging into the myths of Big Data and the right to privacy.  Astoundingly good all the way around.

There will be those that wonder if this show will be competition for HR Tech in the US.  Hopefully that isn’t the attitude of the two conferences.  The attendee list is different, the approach is different, and the goals are, I think, different.  Most importantly, though, it’s not realistic to expect European companies to always send their people to the states, and vice versa.  It’s great to know there are at least two strong events to help shape the future of the HR tech space.  We need as much sharing, learning and innovation as we can get!

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