Last month’s TechHR conference in Singapore was like an HR startup’s dream come true. More than 1,000 HR leaders, startups, technology providers, and experts came together to discuss the future of talent acquisition and HR technology, with an eye towards that kind of transformative new ideas that we get excited about here at SmartDreamers. If it sounds good on paper, we can attest to the fact that it was just as good in real life, with speakers and innovators all sharing their visions for the future of the HR software ecosystem.
Now that we’re back from Asia’s largest HR technology conference, we’re here to share our experience and give a rundown of why HR leaders—especially those with a foot in the APAC—should do their best to make it to future TechHR events.
TechHR 2019: Looking into the Future
Everywhere we looked at this year’s conference, we saw bright minds in the fields of sourcing, recruitment, talent management, and assessment talking about the future. As such there was a lot of talking floating around on topics like AI and robotics—the kinds of transformative technologies that are supposed to be making waves in every industry, not just recruitment. We saw evidence of a burgeoning startup scene, with a ton of new companies trying to lead the charge towards further digitization and modernization in this field.
Beneath all the buzzwords, though, we were a little surprised to find that many—even most—of the solutions we saw on display were focused on old-school ways of doing things. All of this new technology was being implemented to improve ATS functionality, develop HR chatbots, optimize job boards, etc. Don’t get us wrong, all of these innovations can and will be useful to recruiters going forward, but they’re all fundamentally aimed at getting the attention only of active job seekers.
This approach—going after the 20% of job candidates who are actively seeking new employment at any given time—may have been an effective tactic in the past, but in the modern era the competition for top talent is so fierce that relying on traditional methods like job boards and recruitment agencies really isn’t going to cut it. Most big companies are experiencing real hurdles in talent acquisition, and from our perspective the only way to approach these hurdles is to widen the playing field to include passive job seekers, i.e. the other 80% of the talent market.
Technology like AI and RPA can, of course, be applied to these challenges in order to improve HR leaders’ recruitment marketing efficiency. We think that automating the repetitive tasks that go into spreading your employer brand online will be an important start for changing the industry's mentality on this front. But we digress…
5 Reasons You Should Attend TechHR
We don’t want to give the wrong impression. We had a great time at the conference—the air of innovation was palpable and we loved spending time around some of the top players in the Asian HR tech space. You can bet that we’ll be returning for future conferences, and we think that anyone with a strong interest in the HR sector should strongly consider doing the same. Why? Here are a few reasons:
Sneak previews of new technology: The technological landscape is changing so rapidly that it can be hard to keep track. But based on our experience at TechHR, the ideas that will determine the future of this industry are already being put on display for attendees. What could be more exciting than learning about transformative technologies for talent acquisition, talent management, etc. early on in their life cycles?
Sharing new knowledge: Most of the attendees at this year’s conference were senior HR users, meaning that it was easy to learn about what tools are currently being implemented and to what ends. It’s hard to overstate the value of learning first hand what’s really being done in the industry and by whom, to say nothing of gaining insights into the strategies that real businesses are implementing to power up their hiring processes.
Thought leadership: It’s not just that the combined experience of the conference-goers this past year was incredibly valuable, it’s also a case where the conference itself is organized around learning from the best and most interesting minds in the industry. The speeches, conference talks, and workshops were given by top influencers and industry leaders. We learned so much just from being there and taking in what these speakers had to say about talent acquisition and the ways in which it’s evolving.
Networking: With all of these influencers and thought leaders in tow, it would be nearly impossible not to do a little bit of networking. We can say pretty confidently that we met a lot of folks at this February’s conference with whom we’ll be eager to keep in touch. These folks aren’t just HR practitioners who might be interested in our product going forward—they’re also our peers and potential partners: people who are making a splash in the industry in the same way that we try to. If you’re looking for suppliers or collaborators, there are much worse places to look for them.
Marketing: Maybe this one is a little too obvious, but if you’re putting yourself out there at large conferences like this one, you’re likely to attract some attention that you otherwise might not have garnered. The saying is “see and be seen,” after all.
Thanks for the Memories
We hope that our list of reasons to attend entices some of you try and make it to future TechHR conferences, but even if it doesn’t, we still had a blast! We learned a ton and met a lot of great people who we might not have encountered otherwise. Here’s a special shout out to the conference organizers; to the companies like Siemens, GSK, UOB, Accenture, and Adecco with whom we were extremely excited to connect; and to all the VCs who talked with us and shared their expertise about market expansion and other topics.
To everyone we met at this year’s conference (and everyone we didn’t), we hope to see you next year!