The Best #HRTechConf Ever?


“Somewhere in the world is the world’s worst doctor. And what’s truly terrifying is that someone has an appointment with him tomorrow morning.” – George Carlin, American icon.

Logically, that has to be true.  Not all are created equal, so one of them has to be the worst.

Thinking about this year’s HR Technology Conference, back in the neon mecca of Las Vegas this year, brought me to a similar place.  Of the first fifteen years, not every year has been equal.  The show grows each year, the speaker lineup changes, the venue has shifted.  Plenty of moving parts and improvements means not every year is created equal.  So in this case I wondered, which one is the best?

I’m partial to 2010, my first trip.  If you’ve never been, the palpable air of information and futurism is astounding.  I really can’t say how many sessions I attended (though I recall a couple with stark clarity) as I was reeling from the Expo Hall.  As a practitioner, it was like a dream come true.  Every question had an answer.  Usually more than one.

Need help figuring out how to get your systems to integrate without manual data loads? Check.

Want a way to put your organizational arms around remote workers and make sure they know you value them, even those across the ocean?  Doublecheck.

Payroll management got you down, and you need a new way to track activity to get everyone paid? Mega-check.

Need a case management system to help organize your tribal knowledge and treat your employees like you are paying attention to their needs? MOTHERFLIPPING CHECK ALL OVER THAT.

Astounding for the young and old.  201o was the year I decided going to HR Tech was a great idea.


2011 was pretty great.  My first time at the show in Las Vegas, where the glamor and the glitz seemed, somehow, just right.  I was able to see the way the space evolved in just one year.  The cutting edge ideas had gotten left behind, and we were in a new place already, just twelve months later.  Things that seemed to be made of magic last year became old news, and the mobile world was proven to be the next great frontier.  That was also the first year Paul Smith and I threw together our much loved (if only by us) Swag Video.  Good times to be sure.  Add in the addition of HRevolution as a pre-conference event, and the week was staggeringly awesome.

But the thing I took away that has stayed with me is that the difference from one year to the next was amazing.  2011 was the year I decided going to HR Tech once wasn’t enough.


2012 was my first year attending as a member of a vendor team.  Working with Dovetail Software allowed me to see behind the scenes, to understand just how much effort goes into putting on a show of this magnitude, and how much all those vendors care about making the right impression.  Yes, there are some that pour money into ginormous displays and booths, and they are amazing.  But there are even more vendors that know this is the show when it comes to sharing your passion with the HR community.  This is the place to take your labor of love and show it to the world.  This is the time to put yourself on the line, be willing to brave the crowds of those just trying to grab as many free tchotchkes as possible without making eye contact, all for the opportunity to change the world.  And the world does get changed.

Attendees who have never seen the other side have no idea of the work behind the scenes from the conference team as well.  Anyone who has seen Bill Kutik on stage likely thinks him as stoic and unflappable as the Buckingham Guard.  Those who have tried to grab him in the hallway for a five minute conversation know he is in constant motion, churning through the event and the schedule to make it a grand show.  But even then, we rarely see the work done by the HRE team months in advance and all through the show to keep the trains running, the coffee flowing and the magic spinning.  Never for a moment doubt there are mountains being moved to make every moment valuable for attendees and vendors alike.

And yes, Paul and I reprised the Swag Video.  Great fun had by all.  Year two of HREvolution, cementing it as a ongoing addition.

Seeing all of this was an eye-opener.  2012 was the year I decided I wouldn’t miss HR Tech ever again.


And 2013?  Maybe the best year ever for the show?  We’ll find out.  Why might it be?

More new tech.  More vendors.  More attendees.  The best tech Expo Hall you’re likely to see all year.  Plus, this is Bill Kutik’s swan song.  And if you know anything about Bill, you know that he’s not going out on anything but an Eddie Van Halen level screaming guitar solo high note.  I don’t have any special insight into what’s on tap. Just read the website and you’ll know everything I know.  And that will be enough. And as the incoming arbiter of all things technologically relevant, Steve Boese, prepares to take the con, we get to enjoy the only year of having both of them involved in putting it together.

How could you possibly miss that?

And if it helps, as a friend of the show you get the chance for $500 off the registration price.  Just use the Promo Code LEAN13 (all caps) when you register online to get $500 off the rack rate of $1,895.  But don’t wait too long.  Vegas is the land of cheap flights and a thousand hotels, but they do get filled up.  So get yourself taken care of.

Oh, and leave a comment or drop me a note if you are coming.  If it’s your first time, and you can find me, I’ll buy you coffee.  Seems like the least I can do!

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