I’ve been going to the HRN events almost since the beginning. It has been wonderful to see at first hand how Marc Coleman and his young and ebullient team have grown the event to what it is today with conferences annually in Paris and London, and from 2017 San Francisco too. The combination of top content, great speakers, disruptive technology and an ambitious growth strategy coupled with fantastic production has proved a heady mix.

In short, it’s one of my favourite events. Especially this year – not just because I am a confirmed Francophile and will again be part of the Blog Squad, but also because this year HRN has generously asked me to moderate the Smart Data track on the first day of the conference.

So, I make no apology therefore for devoting one of the ‘Five things…’ in this preview to the Smart Data track. Do you agree with the other four (I won’t broke any dissent with regards to Smart Data!)? Do let me know what in the comments you are looking forward to.

But without further ado, here are my five:

#1 Speakers that rattle cages

Two years ago in Amsterdam, Gary Hamel might just have given the best keynote presentation I’ve seen at an HR conference. His tirade against the stifling bureaucracy and the 20th century organisation constructs that still infects many of our companies really resonated with me (and many others). Hamel is back this year and kicking proceedings off with his usual revolutionary zeal in Paris – I can’t think of anyone more apt to do so with the Bastille just a few kilometres down the road. Hamel is not the only headline act lined up by the organisers either with Vivek Wadwha, Dr Daniel Thorniley and Professor Costas Markides also sharing top billing. And if the speakers on the main stage aren’t enough for you there are 17 other tracks including the new Influencers stage, and well over 100 speakers over the two days. HR Tech World is like Glastonbury – there is something for everyone and plenty happening on the fringe. Thankfully though there are no tents and muddy fields.

#2 Smart Data – move from ‘we think’ to ‘we know

I’m especially looking forward to moderating day 1 of the Smart Data track in Paris. It’s a stellar line-up featuring people analytics leaders from four companies, which have developed some of the most mature capabilities in this space of any organisations on the planet – TIAA, Microsoft, ABN AMRO and Shell (plus a fifth with Cisco on day 2 too). The purpose of analytics is to solve business problems and with the adoption levels of people analytics continuing to grow, it is hardly surprising that the Smart Data track normally sees standing room only. Arrive early to get your seat or likely be disappointed. To get yourself ready, please check out my interview with Dawn Klinghoffer of Microsoft as we walk through the people analytics journey at the tech giant and preview her session in Paris.

#3 See who wins the disruptHR Competition

One of the regular highlights of the show for me has to be the disruptHR stage, zone and competition. A heady mix that sees investors, influencers, analysts and other industry cognoscenti mingling together with a host of start-ups jostling to be the next big thing in HR Tech. The disruptHR competition complete with ‘Dragons Den’ theme, celebrity judging panel and regular moderator Jerome Ternynck is the centrepiece of this stage. The final is at 13.00 on day 1 of the show (Tuesday) on the disruptHR stage. Don’t miss it! Read Marc Coleman’s blog announcing the final five – best of luck to Headstart, Intervyo, Peakon, SoAmpli and Tandem HR Solutions – the next unicorn could about to be born.

#4 Count how many vendors claim to have AI in their products

If 2015 was the year every vendor claimed to have advanced analytics embedded in their product (actually nice visualisations and dashboards in the vast majority of cases), this year will see the turn of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Play AI bingo as you tour the exhibition hall, but do prepared to apply it with a large dose of cynicism. Seriously, AI and Machine Learning are the buzzwords of HR Tech in 2016, and some vendors are weaving some very clever functionality into their products, but my advice is to make sure you look under the bonnet before you buy.

#5 Network, network, network

Since its inception in 2011 and subsequent astronomical growth, quite a community has grown up with the HR Tech World Congress. So there will be plenty of opportunities to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. It’s networking that makes these events so invaluable – whether you are a buyer, vendor, analyst, influencer, investor or geek. Where better than Paris, the City of Lights, to enjoy the convivial atmosphere, vintage champagne and haute cuisine?

It promises to be a memorable one and I look forward to seeing you there.

About the author

David will be moderating the Smart Data track at the HR Tech World Congress in Paris and is a long-term member of the Blog Squad. He is a respected influencer, writer and speaker on people analytics and the future of work. He was recognised as Best Writer at the 2015 HR Tech Writers’ Awards, and was awarded one of ten LinkedIn Power Profiles for HR in January 2016.  David’s role as Global Director, People Analytics Solutions at IBM enables him to help clients apply an analytical, insight led and business outcome focused approach to their talent strategies and people decisions. Connect with David on LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter and read his blogs on LinkedIn, ERE and HRN.

Previous articleHow to Succeed in Managing Remote Employees
Next articleDisrupting Enterprise Attendance with Flapps
David Green
David spoke in Amsterdam on HR Analytics Readiness in Europe, as well as moderating the Smart Data track. He is a respected influencer, writer and speaker on people analytics, data driven HR and the future of work. He was recognised as Best Writer at the 2015 HR Tech Writers’ Awards, and was awarded one of ten LinkedIn Power Profiles for HR in 2016. David’s role as Global Director, People Analytics Solutions at IBM enables him to help clients apply an analytical, insight led and business outcome focused approach to their talent strategies and people decisions. Connect with David on LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter and read his blogs on LinkedIn, ERE and UNLEASH.