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My dear HR technology colleagues at Lockton recently invited me to join them on their yearly pilgrimage to all things “techie” in the world of human resources at the HR Technology Conference & Expo in Las Vegas. I was told the conference is the biggest, the best, and that everyone who is anyone in HR technology would attend.

“ I didn’t know exactly what to expect, and my goal was to soak in as much about HR technology and benefits administration as I could possibly absorb. ”

I didn’t know exactly what to expect, and my goal was to soak in as much about HR technology and benefits administration as I could possibly absorb.

As I made my way toward the exhibit hall on the first day, I walked alongside a few others wearing the same placard I was wearing, so I knew I was heading in the right direction. As I got closer and closer to the expo hall, I was joined by more and more placard-wearing techies intently walking in the same direction. Soon, even more began to emerge from all directions until there was a mass of people moving in one direction, all wearing the same placards, in a giant herd.

I have to admit, my anticipation was building, and I was getting anxious and excited to see what awaited this mass of people just ahead in the expo hall. The herd narrowed as we approached four sets of double doors, but all entrants had to pause briefly before entering the hall so the security folks – whom I like to call “expo bouncers” – could verify your credentials before allowing entrance.

By now, I was all pumped up to get inside and see what all of the fuss was about.

The first thing that drew my attention was a massive wall with giant white pegs that stood 20 feet tall. It was an exhibit featuring performers who may have worked as acrobats at a Vegas nightclub – all wearing monotone Lycra body suits, climbing the giant pegged wall and forming geometric patterns with their bodies, while, in the background, synthesized, robotic tones played.

I thought to myself, “Welcome to Vegas; welcome to HR technology.”

More technology exhibits than I could count covered what seemed to be a space the size of a football field. In a span of two days, I visited with vendors specializing in talent management, recruiting, employee engagement, payroll and benefits administration. The expo featured demo rooms where vendors rolled out their new platforms, introduced new enhancements and improvements to their existing technology and showcased their latest and greatest bells and whistles. Not to be outdone, many of the exhibitors on the expo floor drew crowds of interested onlookers to sample their technology first-hand.

Oh, and did I mention that other brokers also had booths and demos at the expo? It was a win-win for me.

This expo was interactive, insightful and kept a self-subscribed non-techie like myself engaged, entertained and educated for the better part of two days.

When I left the conference, I was tired from walking – in the two days I logged over 50,000 steps on my fitbit – but, more importantly, I came away a better understanding of just how enormous a role technology plays in human resources. I also came away with a list of things I wish I had more time to see.

So if you are a hardcore HR tech nerd, someone that is looking to enhance their company’s HR or benefits technology or just a student of benefits administration like me, then this is a conference to circle on your calendar to attend next year – I know I have.