Kasey LynchApril 26, 2024
Topics: Talent Experience

9 Key Takeaways from IAMPHENOM 2024

1,500+ HR professionals. 100+ powerhouse speakers. 60+ thought-provoking sessions. 3 days.

1 more phenomenal year of IAMPHENOM in the books!

Thank you to everyone who joined us in Philly this week for a phenomenal event — we’re still buzzing from the incredible learnings, networking, dance parties, and embracing our inner Skills Superheroes.

ICYMI, IAMPHENOM brought together the world’s biggest brands to discuss the future of HR, technology innovations, and the role AI, automation, and experience continue to play when hiring, developing, and retaining talent.

Here were the nine biggest themes from the event this year:

  • Embracing innovation, AI, and automation

  • Balancing the benefits and risks of AI 

  • Refocusing on the importance of your company culture 

  • Investing in people to improve their experiences

  • Implementing GenAI is not a one-size-fits-all approach 

  • Paving new ways forward by leveraging skills insights 

  • Improving personalization for new and existing personas 

  • Transforming recruiters into talent advisors 

  • Achieving true productivity with AI, automation, and augmentation


1. Embracing Innovation, AI, and Automation

The overarching theme of IAMPHENOM this year was embracing innovation, AI, and automation. With everyone asking questions about the impact of AI, ethical AI, how to keep the human-in-the-loop, and more, speakers and attendees took a deep dive into how to embrace new technologies and processes like GenAI and automated workflows to improve productivity and achieve their talent goals faster.

Their biggest guidance? Jump on the train now so you don’t get left behind in the future. So how do you get started? By experimenting with AI, automation, and technologies in areas where you’re experiencing the biggest roadblocks, challenges, or delays. By being intentional about the application of AI and automation, you'll be able to get a sense for where these technologies can best support your business objectives.

“Belie that fear that AI is coming for your job. Right now, it’s a real accelerator,” said Steve Widdoss, Chief People Officer at Freedom Mortgage.

Whether you accept or reject AI, jobs will still be impacted. When leveraged intentionally, AI and automation can be a catalyst for change within the HR ecosystem, unlocking untapped capabilities, implementing processes, rapidly accelerating transformation, and establishing scalable solutions that are uniquely critical to your everyday operations. 

Dr. DeLancey Johnson, Senior Vice President, Associate Chief Talent Officer, Parkland Hospital System, astutely stated during his panel session about how HR drives better business outcomes that “AI isn’t going to replace people, it’s going to replace people that don’t know how to use it.”

Matthias Leitzmann, Head of Global Talent Discovery at Mastercard also stated, “Technology has been around forever and it’s getting better and better. It’s part of the landscape that we live in. AI isn’t brand new, so what’s different? It’s the data. Not only the data but how much data there is.”

In addition to the data, it's more critical than ever for organizations to understand how technology vendors harness that information, along with integrations, automation, and AI.

“Designing products should never be about cool features. It’s always about the problems we’re trying to solve for human resources.” said Mahe Bayireddi, CEO and co-founder of Phenom.

The key is determining what time-consuming, manual efforts can be either:

  • Completely automated by AI and technology

  • Augmented with the support of AI and technology

When HR teams appropriately leverage data and technology, they can:

  • Dramatically impact the effectiveness of tasks, jobs, and processes

  • Identify and remove clogs that are disruptive to experiences and productivity

  • Support a broad range of talent acquisition and management use cases

This can only be accomplished with a design-centric platform infused with intelligence that deeply understands the intricacies of users, customers, and industries, including their unique preferences and requirements.

That's the only way HR can continue to evolve in this new paradigm. 

Discover the newest AI product innovations Phenom unveiled at IAMPHENOM

2. Balancing the Benefits and Risks of AI 

“We want all of the benefits of AI without any of the consequences,” stated Mahe Bayireddi, CEO & Co-founder of Phenom. The struggle is balancing the risks and advantages in a way that enables your teams to excel, without being blindsided by unexpected bias, evolving ethics, and legal governance. 

The best way to mitigate risk is by collaborating cross-functionally to discuss AI ethics and the potential legal complications before you implement new tools. But these discussions shouldn’t stop there. Leveraging AI to the best of its ability within your business while being proactive about potential issues or areas of concern is an iterative and ongoing process — and should happen in close partnership with your technology vendor before, during, and after implementation.

Well-built platforms that are powered by AI thrive on continuous feedback. Whether you’re getting feedback from your legal team and HR leaders or empowering recruiters and hiring managers to leave real-time feedback within an AI-powered tool, AI will continue to learn and adjust, evolving as your organization evolves. The more feedback you provide to your AI model, the more accurate it will become.

This approach creates a partnership between AI and your people, ensuring that everyone has the tools they need to succeed and understands how AI can be implemented to help them achieve their talent goals. 

Bayireddi reminds us that, “as long as humans are the consumer, our jobs are safe.” The best way to balance the impact of AI is by keeping humans in the loop before, during, and after implementation. 

3. Refocusing on the Importance of Your Company Culture 

With the rise of AI and automated processes, a critical component to building a toolbox that elevates experiences, alleviates roadblocks, and creates foundational change is the emphasis on company culture. 

Numerous speakers highlighted that before decisions are made surrounding change management or tool implementation, you need to determine your “why.” The most successful way to determine the reasoning behind the change is by being deeply grounded in your company culture and what you’re trying to achieve. 

“The starting point has to be your culture. You have to define the balance between the ‘try for efficiency’ and the human touch,” said Lothar Harings, former CHRO of Kuene+Nagel. When your HR leaders are keeping company culture at the forefront of their decision-making processes, you can feel confident when evaluating solutions to meet your needs and solve common problems. 

This concept of making technological advancements based on company culture applies to both talent acquisition and talent management functions. For example, Hugo Organista, Recruitment Marketing Manager at Yelp turned to video to improve how they captured and shared employee stories.

The initial intention was to provide candidates with a better understanding of the role that they’re applying to by showcasing real-world stories from employees in that role currently. This authentic approach worked well for them but also created new opportunities that expanded their reach.

With Video Hub, Yelp was able to export employee testimonials to use on social media. By connecting with talent that exemplified their company culture, capturing their stories, and sharing those stories both externally and internally, they’ve created a wealth of content that supports both their talent acquisition and talent management goals.

By staying true to your company culture and leveraging technology to spread that message, the impact can be expansive. “The empowerment we give our employees, the way we live our values every single day, [and] the way our work is recession proof… is critical messaging to get to candidates as quickly as possible…[Phenom High-Volume Hiring] helps us do that,” stated Alissa Price, Talent Acquisition Project Manager at Waste Connections Inc. 

Overall, defining your why will help mitigate concerns and streamline the way your teams evaluate solutions that support critical HR initiatives. 

4. Investing in People to Improve Their Experiences 

Your people are the foundation of your organization. Failure to provide them with opportunities to upskill, reskill, learn, and grow is a surefire way to lose them to the competition. 

But investing in people is a delicate balance, and generalizing isn’t the answer. “Our strategy is built on creating great moments for everyone every day,” said Mai Elhosseiny, VP Talent Acquisition at Majid AlFuttaim — reinforcing the company's vision-driven brand and commitment to humanizing technology through memorable experiences. “There’s no plan without a people plan.”

Widdoss reminds us to not “put people in a box, don’t paint with too broad of a brush, and don’t generalize — or you will lose people. [If you] set your true north, people are going to align, regardless of generation.”

So what does investing in your people look like?

  • Setting up a mentoring program for employees by matching them with more tenured peers and allowing them to meet at a regular cadence to talk about how to grow and evolve within the company 

  • Implementing an AI-powered talent marketplace, where employees can log their skills, find opportunities for learning, close skills gaps, and apply for internal open roles

  • Making sure employees are trained in the AI you’ve adopted and helping them see how they can benefit professionally by leveraging this technology

Ryan Scheuer, Global Head of TA Technology at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, stated that not everybody has the same ability to ingest and understand new technology at the same pace, and that’s ok. But we have to help educate those who need more time to set them — and the business — up for success.

It’s “HR [that’s] going to be the lighthouse. We’re going to lead this process,” he said.   

5. Implementing GenAI is Not a One-size-fits-all Approach 

Implementing Generative AI is not something that happens overnight, and it definitely doesn't look the same in every organization. Harings reminds us, “If you’re trying to push at the same speed all over the world, you will fail.” Factors such as how and where AI will be applied, what kind of data will be needed, what architecture or model will best serve your company, how it will be trained, deployed, and optimized, and how it will integrate with current applications requires careful planning and customization.

Before jumping in, you also have to understand your company’s wants, needs, and goals — plus the people who are going to make it happen. You need buy-in not only from leadership, but from recruiters, hiring managers, employees, and HRIS teams. After all, they will be interacting with it every day. 

And, as you look to the future of your company, the best HR talent strategy is to attract and retain people who are comfortable working side by side with AI. Building and using GenAI together allows people to ask questions, get comfortable with the technology, and use it effectively as they move into the future.

6. Paving New Ways Forward By Leveraging Skills Insights 

During the event, attendees had a chance to choose their top three skills and transform into their very own Skills Superhero (with the help of AI, of course!). The intention behind this interactive booth? To highlight that every day people are the true superheroes, filled with potential just waiting to be unleashed. 

As an HR or business leader, tapping into the superpowers within your workforce is simple when you leverage skills-based practices and technology. John Deal, Product Marketing Manager at Phenom painted a picture that sums up the importance of cultivating a skills-forward approach: “When your view of skills is cloudy, you can’t see your talent stars.”

This sentiment was echoed by SVP of People Experience Justin Foster of Radian, who commented that a “skills-based culture isn’t in the future, it’s right now.” So how do you start unlocking skills insights that shine a light on skills gaps, talent that’s ready to upskill, or reskilling opportunities needed to pivot to meet market needs? 

The first step is requesting a Skills Snapshot from our team to get a quick overview of the skills within your workforce. If you’re interested in exploring the evolution of skills and roles in response to emerging technologies in industries like Healthcare, Finance, or Life Sciences, download our State of Skills 2024 Report

Both of these resources are designed to help you kickstart your skills journey because the future of work is skills-based.

But don’t just take our word for it. Using an intelligent skills ontology, employees can unlock upwards of 150+ skills that they never considered before, allowing them to upgrade their employee profiles while simultaneously unlocking new recommendations to help them hone their craft or explore new opportunities that may be better suited for their ideal career trajectory. 

Imagine how valuable those skills could be when you’re looking for a successor to a critical role, assessing upskilling opportunities to support career development, or identifying skills gaps before opening a new job requisition. 

At Phenom, we’re bringing skills to the forefront by creating one single ecosystem powered by AI. Pairing a unified platform with automation, you can observe the skills within your teams, and with augmentation, you can evolve those skills to meet business needs over time. 

Bayireddi summed up the importance of skills by stating, “We aren’t interested in replacing people. We’re obsessed with replacing tedious tasks. To do this, we need to have skills insights. We have to train individuals on new skills and ensure we help enterprises embed skills throughout the fabric of their business.” 

7. Improving Personalization for New and Existing Personas 

Personas in every industry continue to evolve, and a major theme throughout IAMPHENOM was that we must personalize the experience for all personas — old, new, and emerging, from candidates and employees to talent marketers and HRBPs. 

Using AI to help personalize these experiences is key, as it allows HR to communicate in ways that resonate with each group, identify specific skills gaps or career aspirations, target development or training programs for persona-specific needs, promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, make data-driven decisions for the company, and more.

The focus on skills and journey maps were two tactics discussed to help with personalizing experiences.

Tim Lippincott, Vice President of Talent Management at Excellus BCBS, shared how his company revamped their internal mobility platform to allow employees to log skills, define preferences, set goals, and ultimately see how valuable they really are. “The future is skills-based, empowered, and transparent,” Lippincott said, and Excellus ultimately identified 10 different personas within their company that they wanted to create personalized experiences for.

But how we leverage skills across personas changes depending on which user we’re targeting. Creating journey maps can help tremendously in this area by making it easy to:

  • Understand the needs and behaviors of different personas

  • Identify pain points and opportunities

  • Align cross-functional collaboration 

  • Continually improve experiences 

When you deeply understand persona-level problems for users, customers, and industries, you can create tailored experiences that keep those groups engaged, productive, and fulfilled. For example, Phenom’s new Talent Data Platform, part of the Talent Experience Engine, combines data from various segments into one unified infrastructure, ultimately identifying, creating, and delivering personalized journeys to every single person. This technology, combined with an HR team’s talent strategies to more meaningfully engage with candidates and employees, enables organizations to scale contextual experiences in a more impactful way.

8. Transforming Recruiters into Talent Advisors 

As technology continues to impact every corner of HR, organizations must learn to adapt as traditional roles begin to change. For recruiters in particular, this becomes critical as AI and automation allow them to evolve into talent advisors.

Recruiters go through a long list of tedious and time-consuming tasks to identify and convert top talent, which means they greatly benefit from the use of automation. But, this traditionally externally focused position is shifting to play a bigger role in internal talent sourcing and internal mobility strategies. 

As businesses gain more insight into the resources that are already available, recruiters have to be able to analyze the data that’s at their fingertips to understand what’s happening and leverage that knowledge in conversations with hiring managers to ensure that they’re making the best possible decisions. 

This evolution means that recruiters will need to expand their roles to become AI co-pilots, automation experts, and talent advisors, to name a few. Kerry Royer, SVP, Head of Global Talent Acquisition and Matthias Leitzmann, VP, Head of Global Talent Discovery of Mastercard shared their must-have tips for piloting this transition:

  1. Before you invest in anything, figure out what problem you’re trying to solve and what you’re trying to achieve to ensure there’s alignment between your tools and your goals

  2. To preserve what you’re good at, things need to change. If you aren’t open to change, then you’re doing your organization a disservice.

  3. Be transparent about the changes that are coming and start the communication process now before the changes start to happen

Once you’ve determined the best way forward, you can rely on technology to support your teams while this change unfolds. The right technology will also ensure your new Talent Advisors have the resources they need to thrive in their expanded capacity. 

9. Achieving True Productivity with AI, Automation, and Augmentation

The powerful combination of intelligence and automation fuels talent experiences for talent marketers, productivity experiences for HR leaders, and operational experiences for HRIS teams. The impact of these technologies is clear, and organizations are no longer asking themselves whether or not to adopt AI and automation, but who to partner with. 

During the Product Innovation Keynote, Phenom announced a massive wave of product innovations that will bring real productivity to all of HR. These innovations deliver unique capabilities for talent acquisition and talent management to efficiently build talent relationships and personalize experiences to fill open roles faster, bring true productivity to every persona, and foster employee development across multiple channels at scale.

A major addition to the Phenom Intelligent Talent Experience platform is Talent Experience Engine, which transitions talent marketers from content creators to talent strategists with unparalleled efficiency. This engine builds on a decade of innovation and redefines how talent marketers segment, target, and engage candidates, employees, and alumni.

In addition, transformative X+ Agents were unveiled, expanding on the impact of Phenom X+ to provide AI augmentation for a variety of other HR tasks. Now, X+ Agents can understand, reason, and rapidly complete tasks.

Learn more about all the latest product innovations here.

Thank You to All Who Attended IAMPHENOM 2024

From Skills Superheros and an 80s dance party for the ages to an amazing Customer Appreciation Dinner and a standing ovation for Tunde Oyeneyin, it has been an incredible year.

We’d like to thank our customers, speakers, and attendees for making this conference a great experience. We’d also like to thank our sponsors: Deloitte, QuantumWork Advisory, talentEXP, Cielo, Appcast, Lightcast, Ajinga, AMS, Boostpoint, Cognizant, Disprz, Nexus Communications, Reddsand, Shaker Recruitment Marketing, Survale, and Swish Advertising for their partnership.

If we could only leave you with one takeaway it’s that using AI and automation to help your companies evolve is a must, but it cannot be done without human intelligence to support it.

To learn more about how Phenom's latest product innovations can help you hire faster, develop better, and retain longer, register for our upcoming virtual event.

We hope to see you at IAMPHENOM 2025! Pre-register to join us on March 11-13, 2025 in the Philadelphia Convention Center by signing up here.

Kasey Lynch

Kasey is a content marketing writer, focused on highlighting the importance of positive experiences. She's passionate about SEO strategy, collaboration, and data analytics. In her free time, she enjoys camping, cooking, exercising, and spending time with her loved ones — including her dog, Rocky. 

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