For the past 10 years, the HR Technology Conference has played a huge role in my life. And it has played a huge role in many others for its full 20 years. It has been a place to meet new friends, check in with old ones, and see the whole industry put its best foot forward. One of the best parts about the conference is that so many people that I know, work with, and appreciate are all in one place. It’s fun to be able to walk down the hall between sessions and run into people you would never run into anywhere else. And as Madeline so wisely predicted, whether due to the circumstances of the world, or our own maturity, there was a strong sense of community at this year’s event. So, when I was asked by people throughout the week how my HRTech was going, I found myself saying that it really felt like a human success; not just a professional one.

It was more human in the fact that I felt like I was having more meaningful conversations than ever before. People were connecting on a real level — not just wanting to show me their latest whizzbang gizmo. There seemed to be an appreciation of seeing old friends do well in new ventures. And an appreciation of current colleagues who we don’t get to say thank you to enough. For me personally, I also handled my own schedule better. I still managed to overbook, but I also managed to share meals with other people and to get enough sleep to feel good the next day every night. Extra important for introverts like me.

Of course, as meaningful as the human part was, we can’t forget the tech. The question I am most frequently asked during and after the event is: what was my “wow” moment — who’s doing something amazing? And you know, in conversations with other analysts and influencers, they agreed that we didn’t really see one. But I also noted that no one was telling me they had the next big thing. Often you get people touting that they are there to revolutionize the world, and the market frequently disagrees. This year was different; and many people agreed. People are doing amazing things in HR, don’t get me wrong, but there wasn’t a single “aha” moment.

As I was reflecting upon this, I wondered if maybe we were in an evolutionary moment, as opposed to a revolutionary one. There seems to be a war on for the platform – both what I call the big P Platform, meaning the IT infrastructure on which a solution runs, and the little p platform, which is often used interchangeably with the user experience layer. If a handful of vendors come out on top of this war, it will radically change the ecosystem in which HR technology operates. The “winners” will have to be able to quickly and seamlessly integrate, their product will need to be incredibly easy to use, and it/they will have to play well with everyone else. It left me wondering if maybe the next big thing is going to be in how we structure integrations and partnerships, as opposed to the evolution of a single solution.

Now that we’re home, there is much to do: following up, tracking down, sharing information. Please do not forget the human connections we made, and the evolving market that surrounds us. Madeline and I will continue to share our thoughts as things evolve here on the blog. Stay tuned for all the latest research, and feel free to reach out. Those are real email addresses and phone numbers on the website – use them. And we’ll be reaching out to you as well.