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HR 2014 Review: Keynotes, Sessions, and Selfies

by Dave Hannon

March 13, 2014


It’s already Friday? Well, that was quick. The HR 2014 conference has been a whirlwind of learning (and learning about Learning--a little HR humor there). As we head into the home stretch here in Orlando, I thought I’d share a few of the highlights for me this week.

The Tuesday morning keynote that kicked off Day 1 was impressive on multiple levels. Our crew at SAPinsider continues to step up the production value of these keynotes while SAP continues to step up the content it delivers to the HR audience. Shawn Price, president of global cloud and LOB at SAP, walked through some of the broader trends facing HR organizations today (there were a lot of nodding heads in the crowd—always a good sign you’re on topic) and the activity on social media was just as impressive. David Ludlow, SAP’s Group VP of HCM Solutions and a very familiar face to SAP users, then came onstage and provided some detailed insights on the solution roadmap for the attendees. In fact, at least one of Ludlow’s slides was titled “Employee Central Future Roadmap” – just in case anyone missed it. 

It was a unique “hybrid” keynote that resonated well with attendees. If you’re a keynote speaker, you have an instant feedback loop these days on social media, and Price and Ludlow were getting positive reviews from what I saw.  

 SAPjarret Tweet

I was lucky enough to have both David and Shawn drop by the SAPinsider Studio following their keynote presentation for a quick interview about some of the points they made in the keynote. The give and take was natural and they provided some great insight.

And speaking of the SAPinsider Studio, we had a number of folks stop by for interviews in the studio, so look for the videos here on SAPinsider Online in the weeks to come. (Here’s a picture of some of the speakers and experts who stopped by to take a mega-selfie at the event.)

HR 2014 Interviewees

The afternoon general assembly panel session of industry analysts provided a unique take on the HR market. Host Bill Kutik set things up for the session, and the “analyst panelists” Josh Bersin, Christa Degnan Manning and Lisa Rowan provided their views of HR technology today and down the road.

I didn’t get a chance to attend many sessions this year due to the busy schedule in the Studio, but I did get to sit on one case study presentation (you all know how I love me some case studies). SAP customer Steelcase’s Lucinda Pick covered the firm’s HR journey thoroughly. Her presentation was an engaging blend of HR priorities and strategy in addition to describing how the company uses SAP solutions to support those strategies. (She started the presentation by describing how Steelcase started – basically businessmen were throwing lit cigarettes into wooden trash cans and starting fires. And thus, the steel waste basket and Steelcase was born.)

In addition to the SAPinsider Studio, there were some other new things SAPinsider Studio Selfiegoing on at HR 2014, and kudos to conference producer Allison Martin and the rest of the conference team for keeping things fresh. The InsightHub was a new networking opportunity for attendees this year. It was a chance to meet fellow attendees, conference content developers, and knowledgeable experts in a casual discussion format to exchange ideas. The meetup I saw on Employee Central clearly indicated we'll need more seats next year -- it was packed with folks swapping stories and ideas, with Kellie Fitzpatrick of Symphony serving as host.

And really, that’s what separates an in-person conference from an e-learning or online classroom, right? The ability to connect with people, face-to-face and ask questions and have conversations. For me, it was great to meet up with a lot of folks in person that I’d only spoken to on the phone or online. (As I write this post, SAP mentor Martin Gillet is sitting next to me, using my wireless connection for a Skype call.)

And speaking of Martin, he'll be presenting at the European HR 2014 in Nice in May. So for those of you who missed the Orlando event, Nice awaits.



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