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Editor's Notebook

Short and Sweet on the HR Tech Show Floor

From a colorful booth to a demo I actually understood, some organizations would do well to add brevity to their pitch.

If there were an award for honesty and sincerity at the HR Technology Conference and Expo, Maestro Health CEO Rob Butler would definitely be a contender.WF_WebSite_BlogHeaders-10

In an industry where it seems like every product is hyped as the next big disruptor/game changer/saver of time, money and talent, Butler’s message was refreshing and simple.

“We’re going to make mistakes,” he bluntly said on Day Two of HR Tech. Even his booth was refreshingly unique — illuminated yellow-and-black walls, where artists continuously drew images and jotted phrases from the conference.

Butler, who hails from small-town Illinois and runs Maestro in downtown Chicago, said his brutal honesty resonates with his growing base of customers.

“People have plenty of options in this space,” he said. “Our culture is the difference maker. We’re going to make mistakes; everyone does. But we’re going to service our customers and exceed their expectations. Employers simply want the truth.”

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Writing on the walls at the Maestro Health booth was encouraged. Photo by Rick Bell

This is Maestro’s debut at HR Tech, as well.

“It made sense for us to be here,” said Butler, who happily admits he’s a fan of both the Chicago Cubs and White Sox. “The conference is in our home town, people are hearing about us … the pieces just fit together and it was the right time for us to do it.”

The conference also was something of a coming out party for Work Market, whose software is servicing a growing concern for employers — the 1099 workforce. Grady Leno said that their company is made up of 80 percent engineers, but the growing New York-based company is expanding its employee base and that it’s time to tell their story.

Work Market was at HR Tech last year, but Leno, the vice president of product management, noticed the chatter around the conference centered on topics other than contingent labor.

“There was no talk about it last year,” Leno said. “It was like we were on a desert island. But I’m hearing it now. The blended workforce is here to stay and it’s only going to grow.”

Another area of HR Tech that appears to be growing is video interviews. For years recruiters, hiring managers and HR leaders avoided it because of hiring bias concerns. And frankly, the technology wasn’t that good.

But a Plano, Texas-based company, mRoads, could be changing that. Incorporating artificial intelligence, mRoads claims to have the world’s first AI interview platform for hiring.

I normally avoid product demos because they’re a waste of time for both me and the presenter, whose time would be better spent showing their wares to a practitioner rather than a journalist. I mean, if I was only covering the HR tech space then demos would make more sense. I feel like then could authoritatively compare and contrast the products. Otherwise, who am I to say this booth’s product will slice the HR bread better than the next booth’s product?

And while I’m at it, why do the marketing reps schedule every meeting for a half-hour? Is that an industry thing? Do their clients demand 30 minutes of my time? Seriously, several conversations I had could’ve been knocked out in five or 10 minutes — 15 minutes, tops.

That said, mRoads’ Alexandra Roman quickly ran through their product, and — surprise, surprise — I mostly understood it. I give her credit for her passion and sincerity, as well as dumbing it down for me to understand. But as long as we’re handing out platitudes, I’ll take a bow for paying attention through the refreshingly brief demo.

Sincerity and honesty absolutely goes a long way. And brevity doesn’t hurt, either.

Rick Bell is editorial director for Workforce. Comment below or mail him at rbell@workforce and follow him on Twitter @rickbell123.

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