By my nearest reckoning, I met with 32 companies in Chicago last week over the course of three days. Plus several others over cocktails and lunch hours. I don’t know if the back-to-back meetings strategy is the best one, but it’s the one I’ve wound up employing for the past eight years I have attended the HR Technology Conference. And as I like to say, while you don’t remember the details of every conversation, you do get to do some interesting pattern recognition across a wide variety of providers and points of view. Below are a few of the patterns I picked up on.

Lead and Listen. As Madeline noted in her blog, there seemed to be a maturity in how organizations were approaching innovation this year. And strong providers were balancing the need to lead the market by solving problems they don’t know they have, and listening to the pain points and realities of today. Degreed was one company I met with that has a hugely ambitious picture of the future, transforming how we think about skills and lifelong learning, but is also focusing on practical pain points for today, helping organizations catalog, curate and track across a wide variety of learning sources.

Culture Is King. Conversations on culture were everywhere, not only about how providers help organizations understand, amplify and use their culture as a competitive advantage, but also the culture of providers themselves. Increasingly, buyers are looking to find a culture match between themselves and their providers. Glint takes the approach of using feedback and analytics to help organizations understand the drivers of culture and performance, and through coaching and action planning, achieve the right organizational results with the right organizational behaviors. Sodexo is an organization that took its own competitive advantage around a culture of service and high-performance, and through its acquisition of Inspirus has turned it into something that their customers can take advantage of as well.

Analytics and Visualization. I have long said that data without action is merely a mildly interesting exercise. I saw more and more organizations this year focused on helping visualize data for multiple audiences – employees, administrators, and executives – so they can take action. Anaplan shared sophisticated analytics and modeling tools to help organizations understand workforce planning needs and flight risk. Ultimate Software announced its acquisition of Kanjoya, joining its previous acquisition of Vestrics, focused on bringing measurement and data visualization to its suite of offerings. And Visier continues to demonstrate its deep understanding of the multiple audiences that must be served through data visualization.

Wellness – With a Purpose. We’ve been talking about wellness for a while, but there seemed to be a shift this year. No longer is wellness simply a discussion about smoking cessation and counting steps. We are seeing ties to productivity and organizational agility as well. O.C. Tanner, a longtime player in the reward and recognition space, released its well-being solution building on its ability to celebrate successes tied to business outcomes. Virgin Pulse is taking a holistic view of wellness, with a focus on not only physical well-being, but learning and growth, financial wellness, and helping individuals set priorities to keep them focused on personal and professional results.

There were many more insights and conversations that we will continue to share in the coming days, but would love to hear your perspective. What did you hear across your HR Tech experience? Let’s continue the conversation.