3 big takeaways from HR Tech 2023

Published

Oct 25, 2023

HR Tech Highlights:

Amid 2024 planning, an uncertain labor market, and exciting advancements in new technologies including AI, thousands of HR executives and technology vendors gathered for the annual HR Tech conference in Las Vegas earlier this month.

There were more than 160 presentations at HR Tech this year, and we analyzed them all to surface the biggest topics on the minds of HR leaders:

AI is top of mind for HR today. HR leaders spoke about hopes that AI would unburden their teams from administrative work and surface actionable insights about their business. Many vendors demoed their latest AI capabilities, ranging from LLM chatbots to embedded uses within applicant tracking and performance management.

Above all, nothing is more important to HR leaders today than creating happier and more productive employees. While "employee experience" means different things at different companies, HR leaders generally agreed that it is about personalizing important moments for employees to drive corporate-level outcomes.

So, what were the core takeaways across all of these sessions? Here’s what you need to know:

1. Companies increasingly expect more strategic thinking and measurable outcomes from HR

The key goals highlighted at HR Tech—employee experience, talent development, talent acquisition—clearly show that HR is continuing to become more strategic. This is not surprising, as companies across all industries are facing workforce challenges. For example, 57% of employees report suffering from some symptom of burnout. 27% are working from home (compared to 6% pre-COVID). Employee retention is falling and the percentage of part-time and contractor workers is rising. Amid these trends, HR leaders increasingly are expected to drive business outcomes and become a strategic partner to the C-suite.

The challenge, however, is that HR teams continue to be bogged down in admin work, leaving little time for strategic initiatives. In today’s world where the average organization now invests in 16+ HR solutions, both HR and employees live in a world of disjointed and disconnected tools. This makes it increasingly difficult for HR teams to deliver a cohesive and consistent employee experience.

All over the world, companies feel a need to improve productivity, yet we keep throwing more tools at people, expecting work to get better. It is time to couple strong technologies with new models of leadership, organizational dynamism, and more integrated HR.

Josh Bersin, HR INDUSTRY THOUGHT-LEADER

The challenge for HR leaders: How can you increasingly become a strategic partner to the business when most of your team’s time today is stuck in admin work?

2. To do more with less, HR leaders are looking to technology—particularly AI

Central to HR’s ability to become strategic is data. Data allows HR to identify business insights, giving them the ability to have hard conversations based on facts with other business leaders. With accurate and up-to-date data, they can benchmark and measure results. 

Among the technologies that leverage data—AI, automation, analytics—it was AI that took center stage at HR Tech. Vendors demoed a variety of features from LLM chatbots to dashboards with performance management recommendations. But too often, vendors presented their AI solution as a cure-all—as though one more piece of software could solve all your problems.

As exciting as AI is, like all technology, its usefulness will be predicated on how it is deployed. AI’s impact will be dependent on the data that it is trained on, and without access to the right, up-to-date information across the employee lifecycle, it will be unable to provide the actionable insights that HR leaders are hoping for. 

The first step to solving today’s largest HR challenges is not the adoption of another piece of software, but rather untangling the mess of disconnected HR systems that companies already have. Only when a full, up-to-date, and unified set of employee data exists can workflows, analytics, and AI reach their full potential of delivering measurable strategic outcomes that HR leaders need.

The challenge for HR leaders: How can you unify your data into a single source of truth to maximize the benefits of technology?

3. Vendor messaging all sounds the same, making it hard for HR to choose the right partner

While the pressure is on for HR teams to become more strategic, it has become even more critical to find the right HR vendor partner. But vendor messaging is converging, leading many HR leaders we met—from Oscar Health to McDonald’s—to communicate their frustrations with the difficulty of telling vendors apart and, ultimately, in choosing the right partner.

Here’s an exercise to help you see what we mean: These are real booth headlines from vendors at HR Tech whose names you would know. Can you guess who is who?

  • “Always designing for people”
  • “Build winning teams”
  • “Employee-guided”
  • “Your global people platform”
  • “Our purpose is people”

If you think they sound vague yet indistinguishable, you’re not alone. HR leaders we spoke to were hungry to find partners who could clearly articulate both the “what” and the “how” of tackling the challenges they were facing. Many were also cautious to avoid vendors who were simply adding disconnected features on top of an aging tech stack instead of providing a holistic solution.

The challenge for HR leaders: Choosing a vendor is a high-stakes decision. When vendors don’t do a great job differentiating value, how can you ensure that you make the right choice to deliver real value to the business?

Note: There were 466 vendors at HR Tech. Next year, there are going to be even more.

What makes Rippling different? 

Unlike other vendors, Rippling’s workforce platform is powered by a unified source of truth for all employee data. Every application—from recruiting to performance management, benefits, payroll, and more—is built on top of this centralized data set. This untangles the web of disconnected HR systems, improving automations, reporting, and the ability for employees and admins to self-serve—freeing up your team for more strategic work.

Rippling makes it easy to manage a workforce of any size. It’s why we believe HR Tech selected us for “Top Tech Products of the Year - Workforce Management,” right after US News named Rippling the Best HR Software of 2023, USA Today named Rippling their top choice for payroll software, and G2 named Rippling #1 in Core HR for the second quarter in a row.

What does it mean when your HR platform operates off of a unified source of truth, where all your employee data is in one place? With Rippling, you can:

  • Create automations triggered on any employee lifecycle event.
  • Build and visualize any report you want around your workforce at any time to identify actionable insights.
  • Manage your entire workforce, globally in one place.

Want to see Rippling in action? Schedule a demo today. And make sure to come see us at HR Tech 2024—we’ll be there.

Rippling and its affiliates do not provide tax, accounting, or legal advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any related activities or transactions.

last edited: October 25, 2023

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The Rippling Team

Global HR, IT, and Finance know-how directly from the Rippling team.