Transform 2024: Did this popular HR conference maintain the hype?

This year it dropped 'HR' from its title, so did HR conference 'Transform 2024' still manage to live up to hard-built expectations? John Hollon gives his visitor's assessment:

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Mar 18, 2024

Back in March of 2022, I attended one of the first post-lockdown talent management conferences without any of the pandemic era protocols.

It was the HR Transform conference held in Las Vegas, and as I wrote here at the time, it was a great event because it made everybody who attended feel that life (and conferences), were finally getting back to normal.

Last year’s event built on that, moving to a bigger venue, to draw more attendees – visitors that were no-doubt attracted to some distinctively cutting edge content – including a strange but intriguing session on Leveraging Psychedelic Drugs to Deepen your DEI Practice.

So, how would I describe Transform 2024 (11th-13th March) – the event that this year dropped “HR” from its title?

Well, Steve Smith, writing on the Starr Conspiracy’s Work Tech Weekly blog, put it like this: “Transform is the HR tech conference buzz-event of the moment.”

But given events in the HR and talent management space are now numerous, the question we arguably need to ask them is pretty simple: what can organizers do to keep the buzz going?

Three things that drive the conference hype

I wondered the same thing, and I’m with Steve Smith in asking the obvious question, “Did Transform 2024 live up to the hype?”

It’s something conference attendees always ask, but I’m pleased to say that I’m with Steve’s assessment that Transform generally did live up to the high expectations everyone has for it.

He also listed the three things that seem to drive the Transform conference and make it a bit different than other events, and his insights are similar to what I have been writing about it here on TLNT for the last few years.

As Steve Smith noted, The Transform hype comes down to three things:

  1. An engaged audience of HR practitioners
  2. A better experience that makes it easier to connect with people and have real conversations.
  3. Lots of good content in 15-30 minute bursts

Another well-known influencer — recruiter and speaker Tim Sackett — said a lot of the same things in his preview of Spring 2024 talent management conferences, and his short but sweet description of Transform describes it pretty well:

“Transform has a unique format where almost all of the content is done in a panel format with actual practitioners. Many of them are from SMB and mid-enterprise organizations, and it leads to some amazing conversations that can really get into the weeds about the what, why, and how we do things!”

Lots of timely, relevant content

I’d also add that most of the content at Transform is very timely and extremely relevant. For example, here are some of the cutting edge sessions I liked this year in Las Vegas:

  • Navigating Turbulent Times: Strategies for leading through stressful world events
  • The Now and the Next of Work
  • AI and the HR Revolution: Embracing the generational paradigm shift
  • The Great Gloom: Why are employees unhappier than ever? 
  • Talent Marketplace: Building the skills and careers of tomorrow.
  • The Business of compassion

That last one is a good example of what Transform does so well – present a hot and timely topic on a subject like “the business of compassion” that people are whispering about in their workplace but you’re unlikely to find at a talent management conference anywhere else.

I have my own perspective on Transform 2024, and although I don’t disagree with any of Steve Smith’s points, my insights are a little different:

  • Transform ALWAYS has timely, interesting and occasionally great sessions, even if they sometimes leave me a little perplexed. This is one of its strong points.
  • Shorter conference sessions are here to stay. Yes, HR Tech and other events will still have hour-long keynotes with speakers like Marcus Buckingham and Josh Bersin, but don’t be surprised if a lot more events follow the lead of Transform with 15-30 minute sessions that leave you either wanting more or happy to have it over fairly quickly
  • Adding a DJ to play really loud music at the opening night reception and Day 1 kickoff session was probably meant to be cutting edge but just came off as distracting and annoying.
  • Transform Plus, the “invite-only membership experience included with a 2024 Transform conference ticket,” is a bold idea to build a “a community-built and community-driven space… and bring the world of Transform together year-round.” Whether it will be able to get people to join that community is another question, but it is a VERY interesting idea to build beyond a conference by engaging attendees year-round.

The conference buzz-event of the moment

Spring is always a busy time for talent management events, and others like Unleash America, WorldatWork, and the big SHRM national conference in June (to name a few), make it hard choice for most talent professionals to know which event will give them the most bang for their buck.

Nobody can attend them all … and I know that because I’ve tried.

Everybody has to choose what conference works for them best, and it’s pretty clear from attendees and influencers who attended this month’s event in Las Vegas that Transform has captured the positive buzz that so many events are trying to get.

That’s not easy to do, especially in Year 5 of what was a fairly small conference just a couple of years ago.

And as Steve Smith so accurately put it, “Transform is the HR tech conference buzz-event of the moment.”

Let’s hope it continues in 2025.

PS: Don’t’ forget that you can still register for ERE’s own leading spring/summer recruitment conferences:

SourceCon (9-10th April): The iconic conference that shapes the sourcing profession

The ERE Recruiting Conference (14-15th May): The premier independent event for talent acquisition leaders

Talent42 (3-4th June) – the #1 tech recruiting conference where innovation reigns and great minds come together

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