Tech conferences allow attendees to share insight, opinions and business cards. No matter the show, the decibel level in common areas is akin to a jumbo jet engine, earworm music greets you each morning and the line for the men's restroom is longer than the women's line.
Conference attendees essentially attend mini technological crash courses, surrounded by peers and experts.
There are a multitude of conferences every year, but how do you know which to attend? Which ones are thought provoking? Which ones have in-demand keynote speakers? And which ones are in alluring locations?
We put together a list of the 10 U.S. tech conferences to attend in 2019, including ones specifically for individual vendors, security, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and overall leadership training.
Did we miss any? Send us a note at [email protected].
Oh and we included events where you are guaranteed to log about seven miles per day and will wake up with "High Hopes" running through your brain (we're looking at you, Gartner). "Had to have high, high hopes!"
Here are the 10 conferences, in chronological order.
Location: San Francisco Date: March 4 to 8
Why attend? Attendees rub shoulders with other security experts for five days in the heart of Silicon Valley. The last two years have rattled the industry with research and calls for privacy protection, placing cybersecurity at the forefront of 2019 strategies.
Bad actors are changing their modus operandi in shifting from "bits and bytes to lives and people." Now is more important than ever to discover ways to batten down the hatches to protect consumers' personal data. RSA gives attendees the chance to test drive services before they acquire them ... not to mention cut deals with vendor reps.
The conference takes place in Silicon Valley's backyard, giving every attendee the option of exploring the birthplace of the technologies their companies rely on. If an onsite tour isn't an option, vendor socks can be found on the expo floor.
Location: San Francisco Date: March 25 to 26
Why attend? Billed as "where the discerning lens of the world's preeminent technology university meets Silicon Valley," the state of AI tech can be assessed amongst peers and tech executives at the conference. Attendees will learn about AI complexities and how to properly apply them to drive business value.
Location: San Francisco Date: April 9 to 11
Why attend? Google uses its annual conference to share announcements and offer lessons for the Google Cloud community. Likes conferences from other major cloud providers, speakers outline their experiences with Google Cloud to present case studies attendees can bring back to their companies.
Google is gaining a hold on the enterprise. Much like Microsoft has its enterprise customer base solidified, Google Cloud is extending its offerings to try to become a one-stop-shop.
Staying in San Francisco is an eye-opener for any tech professional working outside of Silicon Valley. In between the hills of houses are neighborhoods worth exploring and sushi worthy of an expense account splurge.
Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts Date: May 22
Why attend? The Symposium offers a healthy mix of MIT academics and industry CIOs to help other technical leaders navigate their way through AI, big data, internet of things, cybersecurity, blockchain and cloud.
Last year, experts offered a less-known solution for teams who can't keep pace with agile methods. Bimodal development is like a cousin to agile, "deployed during planning" with controlled, "experimental and disruptive change."
Location: Santa Clara, California Date: May 29 to 31
Why attend? Companies in all industries, from construction to food, are looking to augmented and virtual reality for workforce innovation. Attendees can experiment with augmented and virtual reality, offering an opportunity to get hands-on experience with the latest technology.
Location: Historically held in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin Date: August 6 to 8
Why attend? Known as the "summer camp for geeks," THAT Conference is a three day-long event that invites developers and their families to "play" with the latest tech in cloud, robotics, internet of things and app development.
At this camp, there is no need to justify s'mores. Enough said.
7. CIO 100
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado Date: August 19 to 21
Why attend? The CIO 100 is a relatively smaller conference with around 300 attendees who come together over the course of three days. But among the attendees are CIOs of some of the world's most recognizable companies.
Last year, General Motors' CIO Randall D. Mott and Discover Financial Services CIO Glenn Schneider represented two companies that face unique challenges in protecting sensitive consumer data while maintaining global IT functions.
Not to mention Colorado is an amazing location for hikes in the mountains and other forms of leafy recreational activities.
Location: Orlando, Florida Date: TBD; historically held between in October
Why attend? The Symposium is the place where CIOs take notes, literally. Analysts have the ability to capture the attention of its technical attendees because Gartner sets the standards for the most important ways to operate.
Gartner outlines the most pressing trends for the next year that may elicit a knee jerk reaction. Yet when analysts present strategies to embrace disruptive technologies, the threat of the future is less perilous.
The Orlando Symposium is also known for renting out one of the parks at Universal Studios for conference attendees. Ever been to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? This year's attendees have.
Location: Orlando, Florida Date: November 4 to 8
Why attend? Vendor conferences usually mean a slurry of announcements. Being an attendee offers VIP access to exclusive news.
As Microsoft continues to build its product suite as the one-stop-shop for enterprises, Ignite becomes a playground for sessions and learning labs. Companies heavily dependent on Microsoft products and services can get access to expert advice on technologies they want to amplify internally.
Tech conference organizers know Orlando comes with its own set of incentives. Ignite is ideal for technologists to learn and it can double as a family vacation at Disney for a week. Mickey waffles for breakfast? Someone pass the syrup.
10. AWS re:Invent
Location: TBD; historically held in Las Vegas. Date: TBD; historically held at the end of November.
Why attend? As the No. 1 cloud provider, AWS re:Invent is a showcase of the latest additions and changes to its services. Similar to other vendor-specific conferences, attendees have access to hands-on learning opportunities and Amazon Web Services experts.
Lessons in data, security and compliance, machine learning and analytics are key topics covered. Other experiences, like hackathons hosted by professional hackers and bootcamps, put attendees in the shoes of researchers and bad actors.