Dr. John Boudreau (Research Director, Center for Effective Organizations), kicked-off the final (and early morning) day of the 2014 confence by posing this intriguing question about the future of the HR: "Does HR's reach exceed its grasp?" He began by sharing some statistics about the self-perception of HR practitioners -- that they view themselves as needing to be more influential in areas such as Big Data and gamification, even if those topics might not be the true purview of HR.
Dr. Boudreau's central focus was on mass customization, the concept of individualization of services without sacrificing the efficiencies of mass production. This idea has repercussions in many of the areas that HR is involved in such as learning and development.
After a humorous segment centering on communication (with a clip from the classic Abbot and Costello "Who's on first" routine), Dr. Boudreau brought up the concept of supply and demand as it relates to segmentation of the workforce. Using examples from Starbucks and Boeing, he made the case for HR as the group that should be adding value to organizations via their ability to understand the business needs and the creating the right talent to meet those needs.
As promised, Dr. Boudreau somehow managed to weave Steven Tyler, Aristotle, and Abbot and Costello into his presentation, and we even had time to practice meditation, something I'm sure was well-received by the early morning attendees.