Between March 12 and 15 I had the pleasure of attending the 2019 US Avature Conference in Los Angeles for the second year in a row. Celebrating its 10th anniversary and with 360 current and prospective clients in attendance, the conference was – dare I say – even better than last year, when I was already blown away by its quality.
Building a Sense of Community
Amassing New Strategic Tools to Grow
Kicking off the conference, Bill Cleary and Franz Gilbert from Bersin by Deloitte filled the room for the pre-conference workshop: HR Transformation: Talent Acquisition Meets the Future of Work. For two hours, they captivated the audience digging into the seven big workforce disruptors, automation and the essential enduring human skills we should be looking for. The workshop was very hands-on, enabling the audience to imagine, curate and activate their ideal future workforce based on their own specific business needs. Everyone left the workshop with a framework and tools to help their organization identify the skill sets they will need to succeed.
Technical Track: Bringing HRIS Into the Fold
I was over the moon to see the newly added Technical Track, which I am happy to say was a success. The four sessions had three times as many attendees as we expected! This interest really shows that organizations are planning to keep expanding their use of the Avature platform. With the Power User sessions, our customers got a real opportunity to peek under the Avature hood and master the specific platform technicalities that they were most interested in.
Working Together to Spark New Ideas
Having attended a fair few of these events, what really makes the Avature Conference stand out is its ability to bring together some of the world’s top HR leaders from major companies. It’s an opportunity for peers from different industries, from different backgrounds and with different challenges to work together and get new ideas. The willingness to share is incredible. I overheard one client saying “it really sparks new ideas, we can figure out how to evolve what we’re doing. And the really nice thing is that there really is no competition. We can all learn from each other”.
This year we saw some excellent presentations. Our customers are really raising their game on how they are recruiting and retaining talent. Two notable customers to celebrate this year: Cisco and Laitram. They both won the best presentation awards elected by attendees.
Jeremy Bloom from Cisco kicked off the customer presentation with Cisco’s Journey to Create an All-Inclusive Tool for Hiring Managers. He talked about sourcing and recruiting in the GDPR world, and how instead of “getting scared”, they got ahead of GDPR, not just in Europe but in the US and at a global level. Cisco used Avature to build “Hiring Space” – their personalized Hiring Manager portal that now supports 16,000 HMs globally. It’s a “safe space” for the Cisco team to view and handle candidate information, as well as involve, support and empower HMs around the world to take an active role in the talent acquisition process. A worthy winner I would say!
Laitram took the stage to present Innovation On-the-Fly: The Value of Empowering Your TA Teams. Filled with Lord of the Rings references, their presentation was both informative and thoroughly entertaining. Laitram started as an idea for a machine that made it easier to peel shrimp and has grown into an innovation-led organization with over 1,300 patents under its belt. Avature helped them go from paper to digital and they have kept on transforming. Megan DeVille says they know the Avature platform so well that they can perform “micro-innovations” on the fly and that their Avature sandbox is her own personal Disneyland. At the end of its presentation, Laitram said “by using Avature, our recruiting team is able to move faster and faster with fewer and fewer people involved in the process”.
The fun didn’t stop there. Each day was packed with actionable insights:
Avature CEO Dimitri Boylan gave the keynote speech, arguing that while every company wants to achieve digital transformation, it can’t happen without talent transformation. You need a people model to take on modern talent challenges. “The HR engine that finds, integrates, empowers and retains people will win.”
In addition to Conference award-winners Cisco and Laitram, other great speakers shared their industry challenges and Avature solutions. Each talk had a different focus, but one thing was clear – at Avature, agility isn’t just a buzzword.
Some inspiring facts from Day 1:
● Avature contingent workforce portals have helped Accenture source 12,000 contingent workers and increase savings by 20% in just under a year.
● BASF cut onboarding time by more than half to just 12 minutes per new hire for its Professional Development Programs (PDP). They now have a 95% placement rate.
● The University of Colorado Boulder built two very different customized models under a single ATS, giving it access to a single reference point for data collection.
● Publicis Sapient adopted a marketing-first recruiting approach to consolidate, standardize and automate processes in 12 countries.
● Bersin by Deloitte talked about finding the sweet spot between AI and automation and people to achieve high-impact talent acquisition.
Power User Track sessions tackled internal and external sourcing, upgrading email marketing strategies and the all-important time-saving scheduling tool, creating a full-on day for Conference attendees. By the evening, everyone was ready to relax and enjoy the evening’s activities.
After yoga and breakfast, Sodexo got things started in the Strategic HR in Action arena, while the Avature team tackled data modeling in the Power User Track. As the day continued, advanced admin users explored using automation to attract and engage talent. They also tried out improving operations through Avature mobile apps (the first talk on this technology!) and lists. The new Technical Track had its four sessions back-to-back, covering the software development lifecycle, system infrastructure and architecture, the report builder, and Junction, the Avature integration framework.
Key highlights from Day 2:
● Sodexo sharing how it achieved a 99% open rate and a 94% click rate after using Avature email marketing and scheduled actions features to target prospect candidates.
● Hearing how CBRE cut time to hire, transformed the candidate experience and improved its employer brand, while also optimizing agency spendage by championing Avature with user adoption in 14 countries.
● With 69% of employees more likely to stay at least 3 years if they have a positive onboarding experience, getting a great peek at Genomic Health’s onboarding and internal mobility programs to see how they are building a community.
● Staring in disbelief that 70% of candidates start by Googling you, according to Rethink Group. It’s really interesting to learn more about how to design an influential marketing strategy and great tip on using your ATS to find out what candidates want!
● Seeing how Avature Hiring Manager, Agency and Referral portals enabled Apollo Global Management to adopt specific tools for specific roles and how it uses the survey function to measure adoption rates and ensure their strategy is a success.
● KPMG had more than 150 TA software providers. Avature helped bring it all under one roof and automate the entire process, saving over 400 hours a year on support tickets alone.
At the end of Day 2, the Avature Product Marketing team led the first of two Roadmap sessions. It’s hard to believe that Avature has delivered more than 200 features in the past 12 months, and really goes to show how agile and flexible it is at developing new functionality and adapting to clients’ individual needs.
Day 3 started off with our CEO Dimitri Boylan sharing the Avature Strategic Roadmap, which really showed Avature’s continuing commitment to moving beyond being just a CRM or ATS to becoming a Total Talent Management System.
Avature 8.0 was the star of the Strategic Roadmap. It’s the most significant update on the Avature User Interface in our history. As we continue our quest to improve user experience, Avature 8.0 is a quantum leap forward. This new focus will enable users to build a flexible and personalized DIY platform that suits their needs.
Other new features to get excited about were the new internal careers pages, job matching tools, chatbots, org charts, mentor matching programs, gamification and absence management, which are all coming our way.
Highlights from the customer presentations were:
● Pandora talking about how it organized its first recruiting event in Atlanta using drip campaigns, lists, and follow-up content. It was so successful that they ended up recruiting 67 new hires, more than twice what they had expected.
● Hearing how Avature enabled Avanade to build its “ATS dreamhouse” with all the features and capabilities it wanted, and to get closer to candidates.
● Learning how Lockheed Martin integrated many disparate systems into a single platform and how it was able to shift from a transactional model to a relationship model, creating distinctive prospect and candidate journeys.
A Space Where HR Transformation Happens
It was great to see that the total attendee list grew by more than 100 this year, showing the positive impact the Avature Conference has and its value for attendees. If I were in a position consider an RFP or even undergoing an HR Transformation project, I’d make a point to come to the conference. It’s an awesome opportunity to learn about Avature from existing customers and our product team. After three and a half days of living and breathing strategy, I can confidently say that Avature is a true technology partner that can help you make your HR Transformation a reality. I look forward to seeing what the 2020 US Avature Conference in Miami has in store.