Top 5 Trends from the Expo Floor at #SHRM17

shrm17 trends

The doors to SHRM17’s Exhibit Hall have officially closed and as with every SHRM conference, I spent some time chatting with vendors and walking up and down those long walk ways to talk to as many of them as I could. Back in the day, I used to do a post every year about all the cool swag I picked up at the conference — but I stopped when I realized, I was inadvertently encouraging people to rush the hall to get all the sway that they could hold instead of having meaningful conversations with exhibitors. So instead of talking cool swag I want to talk about some of the general trends that I saw while in the hall.

Top 5 Trends from the Expo Floor at #SHRM17

1. Mobile

I was excited to see that more and more vendors are spending time developing some really awesome mobile apps to either accompany their solutions or stand alone mobile apps. I was also thrilled to see that there is an emphasis on simple and intuitive design — and security is not taking a back seat and is front center. I think that this is essential as we continue to look at more and more mobile/remote workforces.

2. Philanthropy and Wellness

I also saw a lot of vendors doing some neat and innovative things around charities, donations, or just general philanthropic themes and I’m also stoked to see a continued emphasis on health and wellness vendors and initiatives.  As HR professionals there is a great opportunity for us to lead these initiatives for our workers and there are some truly innovative products in this space.

3. Data and Reporting

Big Data,I’m also happy to report, continued to trend with vendors, solutions, and consultants. What’s cool this year is that unlike previous years, exhibitors were readily talking about data, reporting, and dashboards and did not have to be prompted to to talk about it. I was also pleased to see to that they are talking about how solutions enable the business and HR as well as the value that the data brings and how it enables both HR and the business. Love it!

4. Recognition and Engagement

There was A LOT of talk of recognition and engagement — even from vendors who were not showcasing recognition or engagement solutions. We all know that there is a war for talent, so no surprise that there is a lot of resources coming to the forefront to try to retain and engage current employees. There were several vendors doing some very clever and new things around recognition and engagement so it was cool to see some new ideas come into this space — and some of the innovation around the integration of tools, systems, and programs.

5. Fidget Spinners, T-Shirts, and Echo Dots, OH MY

Okay -so I know that I said that I wasn’t going to talk about swag — but here I am talking about it 🙂 (… its my post, so I can break my own rules right?) Overall there was less focus on swag and more on messaging and the product– however, that being said, I did see that there were a lot of give aways for Echo Dots and other large prizes — which was a good compromise between information sharing and attracting people to booths to have said conversations. I saw lots of shirts– and the typical items such as pens, memo pads, cell phone accessories, etc. Probably some of the most creative items I saw — were giveaway for shoes (which I actually won! … I had to spin to win) and fidget spinners (which I was surprised that I didn’t see more of — a good combination of booths either giving these away or doing some sort of spin to win).

Overall I was very pleased with all the vendors that I met and talked to this year at SHRM17 — and there is so much exciting change and innovation in our space!

If you went to SHRM17 —  tell me some of the cool innovative trends or technology (or cool swag) that you saw!

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Andrea Devers

Andrea is an HR technologist and change management expert. She’s has built her career in global HR Compliance, HR process improvement, and shared services across all functions of HR. Connect with Andrea.

Reader Interactions


  1. Ward Christman says

    Nice recap Andrea!

    I was looking for USB sticks but didn’t find any… did find rubber tipped pens for smartphones and I needed one for all the micro-blogging i was doing on the show floor!

    I agree with your tech trends, and will add ‘bots’ and ‘AI’ and ‘Machine Learning’ was out there in force pushing a new buzz into the market. The one exhibitor with all three was Harbinger, who builds HR Tech for the other vendors – a good time to building bots… they beat fidget toy spinners any day! (although my son likes the one I got from Nexxt!)


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