Brian Sommer is the HR/ERP Industry Analyst at TechVentive, Inc. A long term industry analyst with deep experience in enterprise software (both HR and Financial), Brian is one of the strongest independent voices in the ecosystem. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 630-235-1215
Have a plan when you visit the Expo Hall as there are more than 400 vendors there. Think about specific kinds of solutions (e.g., talent management) that your firm might want in the next 12-24 months. Do your homework to identify a dozen or so providers in that space and plan to visit each of them (and bring a checklist with you to make sure you see/hear it all for each vendor). Next, pick out a dozen new vendors that you’ve never heard of and learn what kinds of innovations they are developing in other HR spaces. Use this experience to become one of the most cosmopolitan HR executives out there.
I cringe when I see attendees laden down with tchotchkes, trinkets and other booth giveaway items. Taking time from work, paying admission fees, etc. to come to this assemblage of HR vendors, thought leaders and top executives only to take home cheap t-shirts is a waste of time. Go to the show with a purpose and leave with insights and perspectives that you can share, not only with your peers, but with the executive committee of your firm.