Attending Unleash, and some history.



It must have been nearly 8 years ago when I first talked to Marc Coleman and Peter Russell. They had this weird idea of putting on a conference in Europe focussing on HR Technology.  They asked me for some advice, and if I’d speak at their first event.  I agreed to do both.  The event began relatively modestly, but their ambition, imagination, enthusiasm  and drive meant that every year, the event became stronger and stronger.  I’ve attended most of them, and I’m always impressed with the speakers, but the best thing is the attendees, and the energy they generate.

I’m really pleased to be coming back to the conference in my new capacity as the founder of Otter Advisory.  

Seven years ago,  cloud computing was just really getting going in HR Tech, and mainly just in talent management.  Start ups were just beginning to  explore ‘social’ recruiting. There were lots of questions about security, and loss of control with the cloud.  Lots of  niche  vendors were promising to totally change HR.  Few organizations were really using mobile for business processes. Workforce analytics was on the list of things organizations wanted to get to grips with, but were finding it hard. Conference wi-fi wasn’t really a thing. 

Today the situation is somewhat different, but with familiar echoes. Cloud is well established in almost all niches of HR tech. The issues have shifted from security to privacy.  The promise of AI and ML has many folks excited, and many more confused.  Some vendors have become broader suite vendors, some have vanished, some have thrived in their niche and some have pivoted. There is a lot of talk about the future of work, whatever that may be. The wi-fi is better now. Amsterdam remains a fascinating place. 

I’m curious to hear from users of HR tech about what’s working and not working. I’ll be on the lookout for startups that have been under my radar, especially european ones. I’m hoping to meet lots of new people, and catch up with old friends, acquaintances and former adversaries. I’m going be on a couple of panels, but my main goal is listening. 

Marc, Peter and team, you have created something rather special. It makes me happy to have been around when this thing started, and I wish you great success for this year, and beyond. 

If you haven’t yet made plans to attend. click here and you get some discount thingy.