Talking Innovation at the 2024 Axsium WFM Forum

by | Jun 21, 2024

I can’t be the only one who tracks their year using important events. And another important event has come and gone—the 2024 Axsium WFM Forum. Which it means it’s that time again: time for me put down my thoughts on the innovations and experiences we discussed.

This year, the Axsium WFM Forum took place at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa near Austin, Texas. We had a good mix of attendees from various companies—and for the first time the Forum featured some of our vendor partners! In fact, we welcomed representatives of Agilea Solutions, primeFORCE, WorkJam, UKG, and Zaddons.

I had a great time chatting with all the attendees. I know I’m not alone in finding incredible value in the conversations that are such an important part of the Forum. It’s always surprising just how much you can learn from your peers’ experiences.

We based this year’s Forum agenda on my 2024 predictions blog from January. Each of our three main sessions focused on one of my three predictions. This gave us the opportunity to perform a temperature check on innovation in workforce management.

So, what state are my predictions five months into the year? I’m going to discuss each of my predictions in the order we covered them in at the Forum. Strap in and let’s go!

The Swinging Pendulum

Let me start this topic by saying how incredibly impressive our guest speakers at the Forum were this year. Every one of them brought their A-games to Texas and elevated their sessions. The first of those sessions featured UKG’s Julie Develin and Chas Fields discussing the relationship between the employer and employee.

In my predictions, I likened the relationship to a pendulum. That pendulum has swung firmly toward the employee for the last few years. In 2024, I suggested it would swing back to the employer.

Julie and Chas agreed with me but highlighted one point. My original prediction stressed the importance of employers using this advantage sparingly. Lean on their employees too much, and that pendulum will swing right back to its previous position.

Julie and Chas agreed and pointed out that my warning is actually proving to be a prediction in itself. As it turns out, employers are, for the most part, proving anxious to meet their employees where they are. This compromise allows employers to exert more control than they previously had while maintaining productivity.

The context here is the state of the economy. Many industries and markets have had a difficult start to 2024. The last thing employers want to do right now is incur more costs by having to rehire.

Innovations in the employee / employer relationship are a careful balancing act

Artificial Intelligence: Innovation for Today or Tomorrow?

Probably my most controversial prediction concerned artificial intelligence. AI is everywhere in 2024, and it’s no surprise that its use in workforce management is beginning to pick up. The thing is, as I pointed out in January, most solutions already have the capacity to use AI. So, I predicted that in 2024 organizations would get over their fear and begin to use that functionality.

Axsium’s Michael Gondek and I had a lively debate about this during the Forum’s second session. The long and short of it is, this prediction is looking more and more unlikely. The chances are we won’t see a wholesale adoption of AI WFM functionality in 2024. But it may not be for the reason you imagine.

Jumping into AI can be extremely appealing. The extent to which it could enhance your WFM practice and take your organization to the next level is certainly appealing. But you should temper your excitement with ethical considerations.

AI relies on data, and a responsible organization needs to establish how it gathers and uses that data. You don’t want to run into trouble down the road. Many companies are hesitant to take the leap into AI until they’ve developed a policy to ensure they’re using the data ethically.

So, I’m coming to accept that this prediction will likely not prove true, at least not this year. But I’m a big fan of the big reason behind that. It makes me confident that when AI does finally take off in WFM, it will be done in the right way. And that’s how everyone should approach innovation.

This is the Modern (WFM) World

Finally, I predicted that WFM solution modernization efforts would kick into high gear in 2024. This would be driven in large part by UKG’s sunsetting of Workforce Central. But ultimately, even organizations that aren’t with UKG are realizing they’re missing opportunities by running out-dated, legacy WFM solutions.

We were very privileged to have representatives of two of our clients talk about their modernization projects at the Forum. One was a ground-up modernization effort to fix what wasn’t working from their old setup. The other performed a classic lift and shift to minimize the project’s impact on their users, intending to evolve their new solution over time.

Both stories were extremely informative and gave the audience a lot to discuss. Ultimately, what they demonstrated is that there’s no one way to go about modernization. You can adapt your project to your specific context and needs. And, if you ask me, that makes taking the dive even easier.

Modernization projects are still popping up everywhere. I fully expect this trend to continue for the next 12 to 18 months.

Innovation in 2024

Every year, the Axsium WFM Forum gives me a great opportunity to perform a temperature check on my predictions for the year. As you’ve seen, of my three 2024 predictions about innovation two are spot on. We’re still a while away on AI adoption, yes, but two out of three is great!

And while it’s always good to get a sense of what innovations are driving the world of WFM, it’s not the true value of the Axsium WFM Forum. It was the table talks and the discussions around the Lost Pines barbeque that really made this year special. And what’s really exciting is that we’re setting up quarterly calls for Forum attendees to continue to network and share their WFM innovation throughout the year.

Of course, you can’t get the benefit of those unless you’re there.

Luckily, registration for the 2025 Axsium WFM Forum is already open, and if you register now, you will not only lock in your spot for next year’s Forum, you’ll be invited to participate in those quarterly calls. So, get ready to do the best thing you can for your WFM practice and sign up!

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