SumTotal Blog

What were people talking about at Unleash?

November 1, 2017



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HR Tech World in Amsterdam, rebranded now as Unleash, wrapped last week. It was hectic and tiring at times, but it was one of the more productive events I’ve been to in a while.

Over the course of the two days, lots of themes and trends were discussed, some new and some we’ve been hearing about for quite some time now.

But I think there were five key topics that warrant our attention.

#1 The rise of the gig economy

Dr. Daniel Thorniley’s keynote drew attention to what some see as the end of the traditional workforce. Currently, approximately 160 million westerners work in the gig economy while in the US alone around 55 million people work as freelancers. Think about what that means for, well, everyone. For HR, for the people themselves who must now operate under different criteria than in the past, and how this changes the landscape for training and development purposes.

#2 AI in the factory

Every conference today addresses this issue, and Unleash was no different. During a panel discussion around analytics and what HR folks are doing with the data that is being accumulated, David Wilson of The Fosway Group asked us all to consider how AI is impacting industries like manufacturing where the work environment is rather atypical.

#3 Will robots mean job losses?

Henrik Schärfe, like so many others, is raising our collective awareness that soon many jobs will no longer be filled by humans. But rather than bemoaning this fact, he recommends we see it as an opportunity to upskill; to concentrate our training efforts on those jobs/skills that require creativity and judgment – tasks robots are less suited to, and then happily leave the more mundane, time-consuming jobs to them.

#4 Will the 4th Industrial Revolution bring about a dramatic change in HR?

Josh Bersin spoke at length on this. And he is in perhaps the best position to given that Bersin by Deloitte is about to publish their HR Technology Disruption for 2018 report. While he didn’t give everything away, suffice to say if you are an HR professional, and you are not preparing for how things are changing, then you are preparing to fail.

#5 HCM tools can help foster diversity and inclusion

Gartner’s Research Director John Kostoulas addressed this issue in his presentation, and I hope, given all the recent bad press surrounding this issue, people took note and returned to their organisations with some solid and actionable insights. I like that he stressed that not only must diversity and inclusion be recognized as one, but importantly that for such efforts to succeed, they must be CEO-led. Real, significant and lasting change is only seen when the decision-making is occurring at the top.

For us it was a real pleasure to see Sarah Otley, ‎Vice President and Next Generation Learning Lab Director at Capgemini University, a SumTotal client, present a session on how once they established the Capgemini University, they were able to reach over 190,000 geographically dispersed learners with ease and convenience, which consequently enabled them to align and accelerate their organisation’s learning goals.

And of course, it was great to see Morne Swart, VP Global Product Strategy at SumTotal, demonstrate our updates to the Talent Expansion Suite®.  Some great questions were asked, and I feel people were impressed with our latest enhancements.

Now it’s time to review all that we learned and prepare for next year!

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