Even computer geeks have to get out once in a while.
Whether you’re an introverted tech nerd or just a busy IT manager with a limited amount of free time, why not use that out-of-office time to go to a tech conference?
Not only do you get an opportunity to network with leaders in your field, you also get the chance to listen to some great presentations that may transform the way you run your team or even your company.
But unfortunately, if you search for “tech conferences” on Google, you get thousands of results.
As an IT professional, you’re not as interested in consumer tech conferences or events specifically for developers and engineers. Instead, you want to get insight into better management styles or methods you could test within your company.
Let’s cut through those thousands of results and give you some exceptional, must-attend tech conferences that go beyond that latest in consumer tech and give you the tools to make your business and your IT team even better.
The conferences below are listed in order of when they take place in 2018 so you can register accordingly.
When: January 26, 2018
Where: Washington, D.C.
Wonder Women Tech provides women in tech with networking opportunities and career guidance (Image source: Wonder Women Tech)
Ladies, how could you not attend a conference and expo that affirms your superhero status as a woman in tech? The 2018 conference is coming up fast, and the theme for this year is #WeAreInnovators. Events and discussions will center around topics such as diversity and inclusion, social innovation, and interactive technology. Attendees will also have the opportunity to schedule career development and mentoring sessions, as well as make the rounds at a career fair. The agenda for 2018 is still in the works, but speakers will include Nzinga Shaw (senior VP of diversity and inclusion for the Atlanta Hawks), Leah Katz-Hernandez (the first deaf receptionist at the White House), and Tambra Raye (CEO of WANDA).
When: March 19-21, 2018
Where: Miami, Florida
AGENDA focuses on business and tech strategies and ideas, and gives you actionable insights to take back to your team (Image source: AGENDA18)
Hosted by IDG, AGENDA is a conference for business and tech leaders that promises to give you “the practical tools to lead change for the year ahead.” With VPs, directors, and C-level employees from marketing, operations, finance, innovation, and tech, you’ll be able to network with leaders from a wide range of departments and industries. The topics of focus for 2018 are AI and machine learning, developments in blockchain technology, leading the next generation, and the challenges of pursuing digital maturity. Speakers for 2018 haven’t been announced yet, but 2017 speakers included Brett Bonner (VP of research for Kroger), Julia King (contributing editor of CIO), and Radhika Venkatraman (senior VP of network and technology for Verizon).
When: May 21-24, 2018
Where: Vancouver, British Columbia
OpenStack Summit focuses on the growing world of cloud computing (Image source: OpenStack)
The OpenStack Summit attracts IT leaders, cloud administrators, app developers, and OpenStack contributors, all of whom are interested in the evolving sphere of cloud computing. OpenStack Summit attendees come from all around the world, giving you a truly global and diverse perspective on the industry. Schedules for May’s Vancouver conference have yet to be announced, but keynote discussions from the 2017 conference in Sydney centered around topics such as the public cloud, integration with open source systems, lean infrastructure, and “the multicloud world.”
4. Cisco Live
When: June 10-14, 2018
Where: Orlando, Florida
Cisco Live focuses on Cisco solutions, as well as the challenges modern IT managers face (Image source: Cisco Live)
This five-day conference offers a jam-packed, tech-rich experience, including Cisco’s Empowered Women’s Network and Meet The Expert sessions where you can talk directly with Cisco engineers and—you guessed it—experts about your company’s needs and challenges. There are also labs and technical seminars about installing and troubleshooting network technologies, performing “what-if” scenarios, and practicing other risky operations to gain valuable experience that can translate into the real world. A free Cisco certification exam is available to those wishing to validate some of their IT skills. Finally, there’s a track specifically dedicated to the challenges IT managers face, focusing on topics such as leadership skills, emerging IT trends, and “leveraging competitive advantage.” If these subjects sound useful, you can learn more about what to expect here.
When: September 5-7, 2018
Where: San Francisco, California
TechCrunch Disrupt showcases emerging tech trends (Image source: TechCrunch)
We’ve all heard the word “disruptive” when it comes to descriptions of new tech. Despite the name, at TechCrunch’s conference you can leave the buzzwords at the door and really find out what’s shaking up the tech world. Here, IT professionals can see the newest emerging trends in the technology field. Startup Battlefield (where emerging startups can win a $50,000 prize), Startup Alley (the conference floor where you can check out the newest talent and tech), and a hackathon are just a few of the exciting things offered. Speakers for the 2017 event included Founders Fund partner Cyan Banister, Y Combinator president Sam Altman, and developer and The Human Utility founder Tiffani Bell.
When: September 13-14, 2018
Where: Atlanta, Georgia
Hacker Halted focuses on the latest issues in cybersecurity (Image source: EC-Council Foundation)
We marked cybersecurity as an IT trend that’s going to be increasingly crucial for your tech team in 2018 and beyond. Aside from the importance of employing a CSO/CISO, it’s also important to keep tabs on what’s going on in the fast-paced, ever-changing world of data security, computer security, and network security, which you can do at Hacker Halted. Hosted by the EC-Council, Hacker Halted follows a different theme every year. Last year’s theme was “The Art of Cyber War,” where the focus was defining what cyber war is and how to “declare cyber war.” Notable speakers included chief of staff for the Army Cyber Institute LTC Ernest Wong and Deidre Diamond, founder and CEO of CyberSN and #brainbabe.
When: September 25-28, 2018
Where: San Francisco, California
Dreamforce showcases cutting-edge business tech that can help you streamline your processes (Image source: Simplus)
For IT professionals, Dreamforce is exactly the kind of conference you’d think it is: a dream. Touching on the changing world of IT, breakout sessions for tech attendees focus on the benefits of the industrial internet of things to handle the projected 75 billion devices that will be connected in the future and the importance of security in an age of rapid-fire attacks and phishing scams. 2017 speakers included Michelle Obama, both of George W. Bush’s daughters, activist DeRay Mckesson, and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.
When: September 26-27, 2018
Where: London, United Kingdom
Gartner’s Catalyst Conference provides information and advice about emerging tech (Image source: Gartner)
A quick disclaimer before we get into the event details: the Catalyst Conference is hosted by Gartner, Capterra’s parent company. But just because we’re completely biased now doesn’t mean you won’t still have a great time at this conference!
If you want the lowdown on hot topics in tech such as cloud and edge computing, DevOps strategies, and the internet of things, Gartner’s Catalyst Conference is for you. It not only teaches you about the potential of these technologies, but gives you practical advice and solutions for today’s IT professionals. Keynote sessions for the 2017 conference covered the importance of grit in leadership and success, how women can navigate tech careers, and how technology helps businesses create more value with fewer resources. Linda Kaplan Thaler (of Aflac duck advertising fame), Peter Diamandis (CEO of XPRIZE Foundation), and Allison Wilt (senior director of strategy for Greenberg, Inc.) rounded out the list of 2017’s keynote speakers.
When: September 26-28, 2018
Where: Houston, Texas
The Grace Hopper Celebration brings women together to talk about emerging tech trends and navigating common workplace challenges (Image source: Splunk)
2017’s GHC was the organization’s biggest conference yet with 18,000 attendees, so this is a conference on the rise. Produced by the Anita Borg Institute, this conference really is a celebration of women in computing, named after the exceptional Grace Hopper. This three-day conference concentrates on current tech and emerging tech, and offers open source and career guidance sessions. Professional development workshops are also available, as are networking time slots specifically for female tech executives and other senior-level women. The conference also hosts a career fair for those seeking new opportunities or just dipping their toes into the computing industry. Keynote speakers for 2017 included Google Cloud’s chief scientist, Dr. Fei-Fei Li, Melinda Gates of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Dr. Deborah Berebichez, chief data scientist for Metis. Students and those in need can apply for scholarships to attend.
When: October 8-10, 2018
Where: Austin, Texas
SpiceWorld caters to tech workers and marketers and focuses on the latest tech trends (Image source: Watchtower Geeks)
Sorry, Spice Girls fans, but this is not a conference centered around wild plot discussions of the classic 1997 film and girl power—although if anyone knows of such a conference, please tell me when and where it is! SpiceWorld is hosted by the software company Spiceworks and is for both IT pros and tech marketers. 2017’s IT Pro track offered sessions on data management, creating a solid security stack, avoiding ransomware, and IT project management skills training, which you could pass on to your colleagues back home.
Reserve your spots!
Many of the conferences on the list are already open for registration. Some are still offering “early bird” discounts for future attendees who are ready to reserve their spots today.
Whether you’re ready to send these conferences a check or not, you should look at next year’s budget to see if there’s some extra funding to spend on professional development. And if you need help justifying your conference attendance, The Huffington Post has some great suggestions for starting that conversation.
Any other must-attend tech conferences you think should be added to the list? Let me know in the comments below.