The Top Tech Conferences to Attend in 2019
Take a look at this international roundup of compelling developers conferences happening in 2019.
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The number of tech conferences, congresses, exhibitions, seminars, and other events grows every year. Conferences offer a fantastic opportunity to learn, network, discuss the latest trends, share challenges and problems and establish business relationships. Speaking at conferences offers a great opportunity to establish your expertise and build your networks. But it's worth considering the value of conferences for your career and your company. Notably conferences — especially volunteer-run conferences — are at times not without controversy and criticism, but significant efforts are being made with codes of conduct and speaker diversity. Each year I attend numerous conferences and I've decided to put together a list of my favorites. I apologize for the geographical limitations of my recommendations; as a tech journo based in Berlin, I typically pay my own way, so I unfortunately can't recommend conferences in every region. But here's just a few to get you started:
FOSDEM, February 2 — 3, Brussels
FOSDEM is a free and non-commercial two-day event organized by the community for the community. The goal is to provide free and open source software developers and communities a place to meet, attend interesting talks and presentations on various topics by project leaders as well as promote the development and benefits of free software and open source solutions. Last year saw an attendance of about 8,000 and plenty of live discussions and presentations. Participation and attendance is totally free, though the organisers gratefully accept donations and sponsorship.
GSMA Mobile World Congress, February 25 — 28, Barcelona
MWC is the largest mobile tech tradeshow in Europe. Held annually in Barcelona, MWC has over 2,000 companies and 100,000 attendees. While it may have started out with its emphasis firmly planted on mobile devices, its reach now extends to wearables, VR, connected cars and all manner of IoT. Expect to see an increase in car manufacturers, some great smart city applications, lots of talk about 5G, plenty of robots and products that you might never see outside of Europe.
It is as much an event of discovery as stamina. By the time you realize you were actually meant to meet people at the South Entrance and not the North entrance (a feat that involves traversing several football stadium-sized halls and a series of travelators), you'll be thinking that personalized flying bike didn't sound as stupid as you first thought.
4YFN February 25 — 28, Barcelona
A sister conference to MWC, the 4YFN (Four Years From Now) conference is a startup business platform that enables startups, investors and corporations to connect and launch new ventures together. There are opportunities for startups to network with VC’s, speed pitch to the press and a cornucopia of 650 startups from all around the globe staff booths (with a layout that makes absolutely no sense) and put themselves at the whim of the masses. If you want to connect with the leaders of the future, this is the place to be.
Bosch Connected World May 15 -16, Berlin
Bosch Connected World focuses on IoT and the conference is attended by about 3,800 attendees from across Europe. The conference is segregated into key themes across four stages, including autonomous vehicles, IoT DevOps, AI, testing and simulation, and connected agriculture. Keynotes and forums tend to be punchy with discussions pretty open. (Last time I attended, I recall one speaker disclosing a cybersecurity attack at his factory from a BYO device in great detail last time attended). A stage dedicated to startups and a corresponding pitching event shows the company is offering more than simply lip service to startups.
A hackathon runs alongside the event attracting backend and frontend developers, product owners, product managers, UX experts, and innovators from Bosch customers, partners, and startup companies. Bosch and their ecosystem partners provided a comprehensive choice of hardware and software products to hack and prototype with as well as an environment to work with methodologies in UX, design thinking, and business modeling. At the end of the two-day hackathon, results and prototypes created were rewarded and introduced to all conference attendees. (Let me know if you attend; there's an amazing Indonesian restaurant a few minutes walk from the venue.)
PTC LiveWorx June 10 -13, Boston
With the radar strictly on digital transformation, LiveWorx offers attendees the opportunity to boost your professional development and expand your technical knowledge. Innovative and disruptive technologies are showcased across IIoT, AR/MR/VR, machine learning, blockchain and robotics and industrial marketplace with demonstrations of real-world applications.
The event includes training from PTC and vendors, and complimentary industry meetups offer an opportunity to network in Boston’s Innovation District. Its a fun and comprehensive event, overall.
While the event primarily targeted private sector influencers, many of the lessons and concepts explored at the show have application across sectors. In last year's event, the importance of partnerships, stakeholder buy-in, strong leadership, and clear planning were mentioned multiple times. Even if you have nothing to do with PTC products in your job, this is a super interesting conference!
Login June 5 - 6, Vilinus
You might not think of Vilinus, Lithuania as the hotbed of tech, but you'd be seriously mistaken — the place is buzzing with entrepreneurs, startups, enterprise offices, and plenty of infrastructure (stay tuned for an article). LOGIN is the largest conversation of makers and visionaries within the Baltics. For 2 days it takes not only the biggest exhibition and congress center, but also the downtown of Vilnius. More than 100 speakers, 5+ halls, sessions of the most relevant topics, networking, idea sharing, and much more. It has a really interesting series of tracks including design and creativity, with a combination of conversations, presentations and panels. Speakers in the past have included Julian Assange, Nadya Tolokonnikova (Pussy Riot), Jimmy Wales (mobile phone inventor), and Steve Wozniak. This year's keynote guest speaker was Monica Lewinsky.
Open Source Summit August 21 – 23, 2019, in San Diego, CA (Formerly Embedded Linux Conference & OpenIoT Summit North America)
The Open Source Summit is a fantastic event for those looking to develop the skills needed to succeed, for education, collaboration, and deep dive learning opportunities. It is a technical event created to serve the unique needs of system architects, firmware developers and software developers. For example, in the IoT component, experts from the world’s leading companies and open source projects will present the information needed to lead successful IoT developments and progress the development of IoT solutions.
IT Arena, Lviv, September 27 — 29, Ukraine
I'm a huge fan of Ukraine, especially the IoT scene, which I've previously named "the Silicon Valley of hardware." Ukraine is a fantastic place to be, and IT Arena is a fantastic conference with international speakers (including Alexander Nix of Cambridge Analytica the year I attended). Definitely worth a visit.
IOTSWC October 29 — 31, Barcelona
There are many IoT conferences, but The IoT Solutions World Congress is different from other events through its focus on end users and case studies, showcasing testbed work shepherded by the Industrial Internet Consortium. If you want a conference which is less about talking and more about reality, this is it. Presentations and panel discussions are curated to focus on use cases and customers rather than simply rhetoric, and the caliber of speakers and discussions is high.
Other Conferences Worth Checking Out
Tech Open Air, July 2 — 5, Berlin: A venue that is often marred by bad weather, but with carefully curated and really good side events)
Slush, December 4 — 5, Helsinki: You might not have heard of all of the speakers or companies but it's a really well-run event. (Bonus points for an after party that includes fridges of rather excellent gin and lemon.)
The Chaos Communication Congress, December 27 — 30, Leipzig, Germany: But do your research, this is a conference that attracts controversy for it's inability to deal with sexual assault in the community)
Your local Maker Faire — a celebration of invention, creativity, and curiosity showcasing the very best of the global Maker Movement. People of all ages and backgrounds gather to learn, share, play and make.
VOXXED Days: Dev conferences by the community for the community.
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