It’s been two weeks since UNLEASH America 2023 came to a close.
Across three days at CAESAR’S FORUM, Las Vegas, more than 200 of the leading voices from the world of HR shared their perspectives on the future of tech and the workplace.
But UNLEASH America attendees were also privileged to hear the insights of the HR sector’s top analysts.
Not only did the legendary Josh Bersin host an exclusive Skills Bootcamp for VIP attendees, but other industry-leading analysts took to the main and breakout stages to share their expertise on the future of HR and HR tech.
Their insights are always invaluable to HR leaders attending the show, but the UNLEASH editorial team was keen to find out what new things the analysts themselves learnt at UNLEASH America 2023.
What were their main takeaways and highlights? What are the themes that are shaping the world of work in 2023 and beyond?
The impact of innovative tech
“UNLEASH America 2023 put a stake in the ground forever between the old world of HR technology designed for the HR professional and the new world of workforce technology designed for the worker of today and tomorrow”, shares Jason Averbook, senior partner, global leader of digital HR strategy at Mercer | Leapgen.
This year’s show was the “turning point we will all look back on and say, ‘remember, that was the event when we saw the Now of Work!’”.
UNLEASH America’s focus on artificial intelligence, and particularly generative AI models like ChatGPT, are core to Averbook’s view.
He shares that “leveraging innovative technologies such as generative AI and experiential-focused platforms once and for all positions the function of HR in the driver seat”.
Generative AI goes further than helping HR become more efficient as a support function, but will also enable HR to be “truly impactful and outcome-driven [in] creating the workforce experience…that is being demanded by the workforce around the world”.
The crux of the discussion around generative AI at UNLEASH America, as well as in our award-winning HR content, is about the impact this new innovative technology will have on our jobs.
UNLEASH America keynote Dr Vivienne Ming, self-proclaimed mad scientist and Socos Labs founder, declared that to thrive in the digitalized future of work, employees need to lean into their human skills.
“AI may be the most powerful tool humans have invented, but it is just a tool. It’s what we do with it that matters,” she stated.
It’s time to “be more human”; employees need to learn into their uniquely human skills, particularly creativity, to thrive.
Maurice Conti, futurist and founder of Applied Intelligence, agreed in his keynote. He stated that everyone needs to think about AI not in terms of it doing the work for us but doing the work with us.
AI wasn’t just a topic for the main stage at UNLEASH America 2023. It also dominated the HR tech stage – one noteworthy session was with Gustavo Canton, founder and CEO of imhmn.
He agreed with Dr Ming about the importance of being more human, and added that organizations must make sure they think about AI in terms of what works best for employees and business outcomes.
Skills and HR tech
Another UNLEASH America 2023 takeaway for Mercer | Leapgen’s Averbook was the growing role of HR in the “skills revolution we see occurring in business today”.
Aptitude Research founder and chief analyst Madeline Laurano agrees. “Skills are the future of HR technology” – they are becoming a new currency in this ever-changing world of work.
“Don’t be afraid to take risks and rethink traditional processes and solutions for the future”, adds Laurano.
In thinking about learning and development – a core use case of generative AI at work – Laurano warns: “AI provides tremendous value in improving efficiency, experience, and quality, but companies must carefully consider providers that take a responsible and ethical approach to AI.”
3Sixty Insight’s director and principal analyst Jennifer Dole agrees on the need for innovative tech in the realm of talent development, plus employee engagement and performance.
By adopting “smart talent solutions that leverage technology and data…HR leaders can make informed decisions about talent management and build a high-performing workforce that drives organizational success.”
The question that remains is are vendors and HR leaders “having the right conversations to figure that out”?
Hopefully, the sessions on the HR tech and Learning and Skills stages at UNLEASH America 2023 are arming practitioners with the expertise they need to ask the right questions of vendors.
Finding your purpose at work
It feels like the tide is finally turning around the business value of diversity, equity and inclusion.
When employees feel empowered and like they can be their true selves at work, they are more motivated and committed. Belonging and psychological safety are essential to the ongoing talent shortages and attrition crises – and creating an inclusive workplace starts with culture.
The importance of building the right culture, and leaning into values and purpose, were spelled out by Dean Carter, CHRO at Guild Education, in his opening keynote.
It was also a major topic of breakout sessions from the likes of Capital One’s Maureen Jules-Perez and Janice Underwood at the Office of Personnel Management, the HR wing of the US federal government.
H3HR advisors’ founder and principal analyst Trish McFarlane Steed picks up on this thread in her UNLEASH America 2023 takeaway.
“In today’s world, inclusion and equity are more important than ever. In addition to great technology, they are what drive business success.
“UNLEASH embodies inclusion and equity. Everyone is welcome. It is a place where you can share your ideas and learn from other innovative professionals. It is an epic event!”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
The world’s HR conference and expo is back! Don’t miss out on UNLEASH World in Paris this October.
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