LaRocque Headshot for HREPlease welcome George LaRocque as he debuts his first contribution as a member of the HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board. George has been in the Human Capital market for more than 20 years and is one of the few executives in the space who migrated a successful career in staffing to the vendor side. He currently serves as Managing Director, Sales Consulting at Starr Tincup. Full bio

Technology innovation is like grease in a machine.  It helps things move along faster, smoother, and easier.  When it breaks down though, things come to a screeching halt. Most all of the innovation in human resources has major technology implications on the front end, or in support of it.  And sometimes, as in the case of social media today, or the emergence of the web itself in the 90’s, technology provokes the innovation.

Who’s Driving HR Technology Innovations?

With nearly 20 years in the human capital space both as a practitioner and vendor, it seems it’s roughly the same cast of characters driving the discussions that matter most about HR technology. Though heavily driven by vendors and moderated by analysts/thought leaders, this ongoing dialogue is where the innovation is spurred in the market.  Sure, many involved in the dialogue have come and gone along the way – flashes in the pan enjoying their 15 minutes.  But it’s mostly the same voices. This post isn’t about those pundits though.  It’s about you, the practitioners.

Along with the small group of thought leaders moderating the conversation, there is a very small list of practitioners who contribute. And the few who are participating? They actually are the conversation and in turn the drivers of technology innovation that the rest of the market tries to implement. With practitioner voices so important to the conversation though, why is it that so few actually take part?

Lack of time is one obvious answer, but I think that’s a crutch. There are a handful of conferences that even venturing out to once per year would begin to get you engaged in the dialogue.  But if the time and the budget (money is always the second crutch in the set) just don’t exist, then MAKE THEM BRING THE CONVERSATION TO YOU.

Bringing the HR Technology Innovations to You, the HR practitioner.

Taking part in online communities is a starting point. But you can’t just lurk – you have to put your toe in the water and contribute something. It’s just a conversation though – so fear not. But, if you really want to drive the innovation?

Start first with developing an understanding of the innovation happening in the market – what direction it is moving, and how it may impact your business or department. Then select some vendors that are in alignment with your key objectives or challenges and begin to develop relationships with them – centered on evaluation of them as vendors, and their products/services. The relationships you then develop with vendors – and the influence with them that you build over time will get you to the BEST vendors to ultimately knocking at your door to work with you – AND – will ensure you have the MOST leverage in the actual buying part of that process.

But the real kicker? Those relationships will even allow you to influence the direction of product development with certain vendors which then brings perhaps the BEST result.  The more you share with the right vendors over time – the SMOOTHER THE IMPLEMENTATION, THE BETTER THE USER ADOPTION, AND THE FASTER YOU GET TO ROI (if you care about any of those).

Vendors are HUNGRY for prospects and customers that will engage.  Your challenge won’t be finding a receptive audience at all – your challenge will be selecting them and managing that process. And that’s one of the things I hope to contribute here on HRExaminer.  You can be a more educated buyer, you can be more influential in the market, and you can receive credit for the innovation you have impacted. You just didn’t know you could. And when you drive innovation and get known for it? Good things happen.

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Julian works with John as a contributing editor for HRExaminer. He also collaborates with John on HRExaminer’s digital engagement which is about...