5 trends from UNLEASH London 2018

When it comes to the most discussed topics at UNLEASH London (ex-HR Tech World) – one of the biggest HR Tech gatherings, the hot topics are all about chatbots, people analytics, automated sourcing tools, data protection and GDPR.

I’ve spent most of the time close to the stage to see startups pitching their products, startup competition, expo and panel discussions joined by entrepreneurs, investors and industry influencers.

Here’s what I’ve categorized from the presentations and discussions around these five huge topics:

Black-box inside assessment tools

Candidate assessment and people analytics are areas that can potentially improve recruitment a lot. Unbiased, objective, instant and fun assessment is a common dream. Actiview, a Series A funded startup presented a system that imitates genuine work situations through a VR-created gamified environment. Computers follow and evaluate the candidate’s every single step, including eye movements.

The Dutch startup Zyvo presented neuro assessment games that should significantly increase the predictability rate, while biz.u focuses on personality traits and culture fit.

The increased ability to process thousands of data points opens questions about privacy protection and about what happens inside of these algorithms. Every startup faces questions about how data is stored, protected, how it can potentially be misused, as well as how transparency towards the candidate is ensured.

Potential customers are in a pretty difficult situation. The accuracy of these tools should be the key evaluating criterion, but it’s also the least measurable. What happens in the black-box? How exactly is the data assessed? How do the algorithms work? It’s definitely not easy to evaluate, but it shouldn’t prevent companies from making the essential step forward. Predictive analytics is a big thing.

The rise of chatbots

More and more chatbots are coming. Who doesn’t want to have tools to automate and engage candidates on a mass scale? Let’s review some of the producers: JobPal is a chatbot developer with a footprint in Europe and the U.S. having already created a couple of chatbots. Jenna AI is a sourcing, candidate matching and communication tool from Israel.

RoboRecruiter does the dirty work of gathering candidates’ PALS – Price, Availability, Location and Skills and engaging job vetting conversations with them. Robot Vera can source and video interview the candidates. It provides a visual interface in the form of an animated humanoid, but I wasn’t super impressed with it. I believe chabots should live in messenger.

The startup competition was won by RoboRecruiter.

Meeting chatbot developers is probably the best way to make up your mind about the most suitable solution for your company. Chatbots are very customizable and it’s difficult to simply assess different solutions without the right feedback.

I’m strongly convinced that chatbots are very useful, especially for high-volume recruitment. But what doesn’t help their proliferation is the misleading marketing of some providers at times. Giving chatbots human names and talking too much about AI, which actually doesn’t exist as of now, creates an illusion of over-promising and disappointment.

Blockchain makes its way to HR Tech

You hear about it everyday. It’s originally the technology that allowed the creation of bitcoin. It is a way to build trust and control among a large number of users. This technology penetrates into other areas and we have seen two possible HR applications.

Garry McKay from APPII wants to remove the burden with verifying CVs and checking references. A blockchain-based verification system can solve that. I like the idea, however to make it really useful, the platform would need a large number of users. Ideally something like LinkedIn.

The counter-harassment platform Vault allows people to anonymously register and document harassment experiences. Users are in complete control over the information stored in their Vault which no other party can access without explicit consent. Once the case is recorded, the user is notified whether the perpetrator’s name was deposited in Vault by other users. This information should empower individuals to report their case.

Data protection and GDPR

You don’t have to be Facebook’s shareholder to watch its latest scandal with pure anxiety. Data protection is a hot topic and many speakers at Unleash focused on it.

Ardi Kolah, Director of GDPR Transition Programme at Henley Business School highlighted that trust issues are what organizations are struggling with right now. Data Ethics is the new battleground for brands seeking a point of differentiation with their competitors.

GDPR knocks on the door and rather than panic, it’s good to remind ourselves of its benefits: setting a common data protection standard in the EU and move towards creating a single digital market in Europe.

Software providers don’t have to deal with different local legislation which can result in less administration. The ultimate goal of GDPR is to restore transparency and confidence.

Integrations and real problem solving

I believe in open platforms and integration. The ability to select the most suitable solution for a specific process and connect them altogether was the biggest breakthrough in the last few years. Tools like Slack, Greenhouse, BambooHR, G-suite are leading the way. I like everything that supports greater integration and solves real problems.

TalentBrew is utilized by multinationals having different local career sites and ATS’s, that want to have one unified career site. TalentBrew creates a layer that is above local solutions, gathers data from them, visualizes them in a unified way and pushes the applicant info back to the ATS. To me this makes much more sense than trying to enforce one solution across several countries.

Booking a meeting involving multiple people and using different calendar services (Gmail, Outlook, iCloud…) is a pain in the ass. Cronofy is an API-based service that allows software providers to connect with calendars of their users and thus check the availability or do real-time scheduling. I like this tool because it solves a real practical problem and supports the cooperation of different systems.


I personally find Startup Stage the most interesting part of UNLEASH. I will soon come up with more articles about the HR Tech startup ecosystem. Stay tuned!

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