The HR Technology Conference and Expo in Las Vegas that begins today will showcase an array of new business technology innovations for human capital management and talent management. The business technology to help human resources professionals is evolving dramatically, and this is a place for HR and workforce management professionals to find new methods that help increase productivity and optimize business outcomes. Early this year our firm defined five business technology innovations that will be vitally important in this decade for HR as well as other lines of business: They are cloud computing, social media, mobility, analytics and collaboration. Each of these when integrated with business and workforce processes can improve worker/manager interactions, and when combined they can have a widespread impact across the enterprise.

This year’s HR Technology, the 14th gathering, shows signs of being more bustling than last year’s and on the continuing mission to help my industry colleague, Bill Kutik, in keeping the vendors honest. We anticipate a significant number of new announcements in mobility, social media expansion of applications and workforce analytics. Cloud computing is already the standard for these applications for talent management; now it is imperative to progress in integration of them with enterprise systems. To accomplish this will require using data integration technologies designed for operating across cloud computing and enterprise systems that come from providers like Dell Boomi, Informatica, Pervasive and SnapLogic. Nobody attending will time to see everything at the conference and exhibits, so I want to highlight some of the announcements and areas that we think you should not miss at HR Tech and take back to discuss with your colleagues in business, finance, operations and IT.

The conference program does not provide what I think is the business technology thematic as a guide to all the technology announcements so I’ve organized them according to the innovations outlined above. If you want to read what is new from a talent management process perspective you can read my other guide to the conference.

Workforce Mobility: The business use of smartphones and tablets continues to change how workers and managers operate and will cooperate, but it is hard to tell where the real advances lie. Keep in mind that while many vendors are quick to announce and show applications that you can be downloaded, few provide demonstration versions with predefined information that can help you understand the impact their app can provide. ADP recently added mobility capabilities to its applications that I assessed  and it will highlight at the conference. Peoplefluent just announced availability of its mobile application suite and the Mobile Workforce Explorer that advances from what I already assessed  as being the most progressive advancements in tablet-based applications for managers. Workday recently announced  its mobility offering for managers on tablets but is still not providing access to experience it before purchasing. SAP also announced a series of new mobile applications for managers called SAP Manager Insight and SAP Interview Assistant that builds on top of what I assessed already at its SAPPHIRE conference. SuccessFactors has brought forward its BizX Mobile as the interface to its applications, but we are still waiting to see a public demonstration of its capabilities.

Social Media: Social media is a key new channel to attract talent to your organization as well as to understand how to engage your existing workforce more fully. That said, don’t let it blur your focus on the complete process that goes beyond recruiting talent. Taleo recently released an interesting application called Taleo Radar that I engaged with at its Taleo World conference; it also is using Facebook and LinkedIn to introduce talent into the hiring process. A newer provider called TalentBin is taking a new approach for social recruiting that has a really nice YouTube overview. Taleo is also showing its latest announcement on social media integration with Facebook as part of its Talent Exchange.  In the need for recognizing employees, Globoforce has announced Social Recognition  to help recognize employees more socially across an enterprise.

Workforce Analytics: Attracting and retaining talent are critical that can be more effective by using workforce analytics. Our workforce analytics benchmark research on HR organizations  found some significant challenges in the maturity of organizations trying to use analytics. To help with this, software vendor eThority has methods to access and integrate data for workforce analytics across a spectrum of cloud and enterprise systems contained in its recently upgraded platform eThority 5  who in a surprise announcement was acquired by Equifax and now part of the TALX business unit. Sonar6  made performance reviews cool and has introduced an analytics offering that is easily seen on this YouTube clip. I recommend visiting Peoplefluent to see the advances in analytics enabled by its acquisition of Acquire. SuccessFactors acquired Inform and YouCalc to advance its solution for stand-alone workforce analytics and should be another stop on your tour of workforce analytics. SumTotal Systems is also advancing its workforce analytics that I assessed in a recent briefing. Technomedia has launched TM Analytics to help complement its new talent management suite. Visier was founded by former Business Objects and SAP executives to spice up the workforce analytics market and now has brought its products to the market after being in development for some time.

Workforce Collaboration: Having your workforce collaborate to improve business outcomes is one of the most important dynamics in the changing workplace and can be fostered with technology. When you think about establishing workforce collaboration, don’t get distracted just by the cute social media expansions of recruiting applications which only can help part of your overall talent management processes. Unfortunately this critical business factor is not receiving its full due in the HR Tech conference, but there are advances worth your time to examine. SuccessFactors announcedSuccessFactors Jam,which is the fusion of technologies it acquired from CubeTree and Jambok to engage the workforce in social learning; now I want to see it available through mobile technologies. Saba is demonstrating its Saba Centra and Social Learning suite that builds on its established learning management system and collaboration technology that I reviewed. SilkRoad Technology announced SilkRoad Point that is a collaborative and knowledge sharing platform that will change how employees engage across an enterprise.

I hope you have a productive time at the 2011 HR Technology Conference. If you want to follow my real-time analysis, you can find me on Twitter(@marksmithvr), or you can collaborate with me on any of the social media channels we publish to. Ventana Research is continuing our in-depth of research in the talent management field. Recently we released a total compensation management benchmark, and at the moment we are analyzing our latest research on recruiting and social media and designing a new research investigation on the next generation of workforce management. Our firm continues to deepen its research foundation as it is diminishing from others; we are committed to producing analysis founded in facts and not just based on opinion. To ensure you get the right advice my firm launched a new set of education and assessment services for talent management to help get the advice and knowledge without the headache of lengthy consulting engagements or having lingering consultants in your organization.

Regards,

Mark Smith – CEO & Chief Research Officer