The HR Tech bubble is ready to burst
I’ve just come back from the HR Technology Conference and Expo in Chicago. It was a brilliantly organised and put together conference, pulling a range of suppliers and practitioners from all over the globe, the big, the small and the start-up. I was particularly keen to go as a long-standing champion of good HR technology. We’ve been lucky to partner with people like HireVue, Crowdoscope and Thompsons to deliver exciting solutions and I wanted to figure out what was next.
Everywhere I went there was talking of the disruptive influence of technology in HR, with people writing and commenting on the power that this is having on the profession. I was curious to understand exactly what this might be. Sadly, after spending three days looking for it, I came away empty-handed.
Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of good technology platforms out there (I particularly like CareerBuilder, HROnboard & CultureAmp amongst others), but I struggled to find anything I’d call disruptive. The vast majority are in the talent acquisition space where, as far as I can see, the aim has always been to find, select and hire a person. They help, support, systemise and facilitate this process, but I’m not entirely sure that falls into disruption.
Then there are the HRIS suppliers and we know disrupting paying people is only going to end in a world of pain. A group of platforms which term themselves “engagement” – which means anything from recognition, through communication to wellbeing. And finally analytics solutions – the new holy grail.
That’s all well and good. But disruptive? No.
The biggest disconnect I saw was between the problems practitioners need help with and the solutions being offered by the tech providers. One offering particularly stuck out for me, a service called InvestiPro, helping standardise and systemise the HR investigation process – something that would have been amazing during my time in retail, but also answered a real challenge that practitioners face.
Far too often, however, I was being told about a problem I needed to solve that I never realised I had. Maybe I’m just dumb and haven’t realised the multiple challenges yet to face me – or maybe they just don’t exist. In the same way we are constantly told we need to be fitter, healthier and more beautiful, the HR tech industry is trying to tell us that buying their own special serum will help solve all our HR woes.
There seems to be a huge amount of money and investment washing around the HR tech market, probably too much. The result is an over-supply of similar products, relying on brand to differentiate and a dearth of creative, innovative solutions that genuinely add value to employees, line managers or practitioners. Investors aren’t stupid, or known for their patience or sentimentality. On that basis, it can only be a matter of time before this particular bubble bursts.
And THAT will probably be the most disruptive thing to happen in HR Tech.