The Coolest Thing at #SHRM17 Isn’t Digital

I know – heresy, right? Digital is supposed to be the new black – or is it the new orange – or maybe purple (check the SHRM conference logo.) Either way, all the cool kids in HR are telling us that the future of HR is all about technology and big, big, data.

Since it’s only the second day of the show I’ve not been able to do the big dive into “booth world” yet, but I did a cursory walk-through after it opened Sunday night and I found something unexpected and interesting. And it isn’t digital. It is a bit techy – but the end result is very, very analog. So analog in fact, it is something your grandma did with annual regularity until you were probably in your late 20s and were embarrassed by it. So analog you may have actually saved the first one you got from that little redheaded girl or boy you had a crush on in 4th grade. So analog you will want to get your free one while you’re here at #SHRM17.

That’s right – I’m talking about – greeting cards!

Digital Meet Analog

Stay with me here gentle readers, T-Bone Hébert wouldn’t steer you wrong.

A small booth located at 3438, manned by the nice folks from Card Isle (, is zigging a bit while others are zagging. They have a product (and a service) that allows you to create personalized, printed greeting cards delivered in almost real-time to your employees on-demand. I know – a lot buzz words packed into one sentence. But it is kinda cool.

Here’s how it works and why I think it is a great engagement idea for your company.

The Set Up

Card Isle installs a kiosk at your company stocked with cards and envelopes (their service handles restocking). Employees access your company’s Card Isle portal and design their own card and send it to the kiosk for printing. They then go to the kiosk put in their “code” and viola – a real card!

Initially designed to be used for “normal” celebrations – ie: birthday, anniversary, divorce – they found employees at their early corporate clients were using the service to recognize other employees. That’s right – instead of simply sending an email “attagirl” from their recognition system, they were logging into Card Isle and creating custom recognition card, printing it at the kiosk, signing it with real ink and real handwriting, putting the card in an envelope (provided at the kiosk), and then leaving the card at the employee’s desk.

Seems pretty old school but let me ask you this… how great would you feel if you came back from lunch and found a custom recognition card from one of your colleagues? Would you be happy about that? I’m betting you would.

Making it Visible and Intentional

Some of you might be saying…

“Hey T-Bone - we have a “digital” peer-to-peer recognition program at our company – we don’t need no stinkin’ real-life, tangible, paper-based cards!”

And I would say to you … “Mais, you’d be tres wrong!”

I know you “have” those systems, but I’ll bet they are vastly under-utilized (at least if what I overhear in the Starbucks line is to be believed). What Card Isle has done – and the real value – is they made the digital analog. Sure, you COULD print off a piece of paper and drop it someone’s chair – but I dare you do to that on your next wedding anniversary or significant other’s birthday and see how that goes over (hint – experience talking – DON’T DO THAT!)

But more importantly to me, is this. If you put a kiosk in your office (which, by the way, you can totally BRAND for your company) your employees will see a physical representation of your recognition and engagement thinking. Right now, they probably don’t really see your recognition and engagement program unless they go on line – and then it’s represented on a 24 inch monitor (or less depending on your tech budget). Now think about the impact of walking by a kiosk each day that screams “recognize someone!”

So… if you want to be a bit of a contrarian go by booth 3428 and check out the Card Isle kiosk and get your own free card.

And, if you’re feeling particularly generous you can send me a card care of the Blogger Lounge (241) and include the $2 bill your grandma used to put in your birthday card. I’m not too proud to accept it.

T-Bone out!

(Note to readers: Paul Hebert has abdicated his writing responsibilities this week to his alter ego – T-Bone Hébert in order to allow him to explore Bourbon Street. All praise and adulation go to him for these posts.)



The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

Add new comment

Please enter the text you see in the image below: