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Top 10 IT Conferences to Attend in 2020

Michael O'Dwyer| February 05 2020

| IT insights

Selecting the top ten IT conferences is a subjective matter, as we all have varying interests. Thousands take place every year. Here are 10 IT conferences I think you should go to.

Whether you call them trade shows, exhibitions, expos or conferences, some are industry-specific while others are for a niche audience such as developers. Most will include seminars, speakers, and subject-matter experts that satisfy elements of the dictionary meaning of conference…

As an IT professional, the IT conferences you attend are primarily determined by your area of IT expertise. These could be the cloud, network admin, Azure etc. Company size is a factor, as is the corresponding available budget. There is no point in checking out industry trends when you are prohibited from upgrading the aging infrastructure. In most cases, companies will not approve paid leave to attend conferences unrelated to future objectives. The truly dedicated will use their personal time or limit themselves to weekend conferences.

Therefore, my selections reflect my interests, are in chronological order, and are those that I would attend. I chose to ignore the travel involved, cost of admission and other factors. My selections reflect the true meaning of “conference,” where the aim is intelligent discussion and brainstorming over the course of a few days. If your favorite is absent, complain in the comments. My selections do not include IT or tech shows where product and service promotions are the primary objective but do include those where thought leadership is part of the agenda.

Unfortunately, CES 2020 does not qualify. It’s already been and gone, a pity as my favorite product of the show – the smart potato, (not because I’m Irish) adequately provided social commentary on the unnecessary nature of many IoT gadgets. It even gained investors on IndieGoGo. I also wonder how secure it is.

Whether it’s to network with others, gain some training, learn from industry thought leaders, or to take a well-deserved break from work, these are the conferences worth attending in 2020.

1. IMPACT 2020

February 9-12, The Westin Las Vegas Hotel, NV

Registrations are still possible at the time of writing, although it’s just a few days away. The focus of IMPACT is digital transformation and its intersection with Enterprise IT, which is a broad space. Sessions and guest speakers are too many and varied to list here. Suffice to say, whatever the industry, you’ll learn to solve IT issues in your enterprise from those who had the same problems in the past…

2. RSA Conference 2020

From February 24-28, Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA

Perhaps one of the most well-known security conferences, RSA Conference, includes sessions led by global experts, with high-profile keynote speakers (such as Bruce Schneier, a personal favorite as I read his blog regularly), training and tutorials. Product demos and networking opportunities are included.

3. EmTech Asia 2020

February 25-26, Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Singapore

EmTech is short for Emerging Tech and who could resist the range of speakers here. Google, Tencent, Autodesk, Toyota, Intel, and many, many more. With speakers including a mix of scientists, academics, executives and engineers, gain insights and predictions from those conceiving of and developing new technologies. What do you think will drive the next economy? Prepare for a few surprises.

4. Cloud Expo Europe 2020 

March 11-12, Excel, London, England

Part of the London Tech Show, Cloud Expo Europe demonstrates the best of what the cloud has to offer, connect businesses with providers, industry experts, and peers. If you’re wondering if the cloud is a fit for your business, it’s a great time to find out. AI, multi-cloud strategies, emerging trends and next-generation networks are just part of the program, with speakers from IBM, Microsoft and many more.

5. Cisco Live US 2020

May 31 – June 4, Las Vegas, NV

Despite the anonymous reviews on the event, Cisco Live is one of the premier events on the calendar and covers security, automation, leadership, and many other tech topics. With keynotes, Big Idea Talks, sessions and more from Cisco senior execs and from other global companies, expect to learn a lot.

6. Black Hat USA 2020

August 1-6, Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, NV

Black Hat is another security conference now in its 23rd year. Black Hat USA opens with four days of technical training and a two-day conference. Aimed at presenting findings on security trends and threats, this a must for anyone interested in the latest info on advanced persistent threats (APT) and how to fight them. Expect 100+ vendor-neutral presentation at the event.

7. SANS Security Awareness Summit 2020

August 5-6, Hilton Austin, Austin, TX

SANS is well-known to all involved in security, considering that many security certifications come from this organization. Education and training are part and parcel of the summit, with interactive workshops, show and tell booths, and evening social events for peer to peer networking. Best of all, you can add a SANS certification to your skillset if you wish as courses are provided as well.

8. GSX 2020

September 21-23, Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA

GSX (Global Security Exchange) is aimed at security professionals in all industries. Calls for presentations and speakers have closed, but nothing specific has been announced yet. However, proposed topics include digital transformation, data protection and related regulations, insider threats, big data, opensource intelligence and violence in the workplace — all valid topics. Session recordings for 2019 are available if you want a taste of what to expect this year.

9. Interop 2020

September 21-24, Austin Convention Center, TX

Interop prides itself on being an independent event, without vendor-bias, for all networking and IT pros. The event includes a cybersecurity crash course from DarkReading, a well-respected site with other Informa Tech (parent company) partners, including InformationWeek and Network Computing. Network automation, wireless, DevOps and more are also on the current schedule, with more pending addition.

10. Microsoft Ignite 2020

September 21-25, New Orleans, LA

Billing Ignite as the ultimate tech conference seems a little arrogant, but with 1000+ sessions and 200+ hands-on workshops expected, perhaps it's justified. Pre-registrations are open. Topics covered include security, architecture, IT and infrastructure, whether cloud, hybrid or on-premise. Developers and admins are not left out and in 2019, multiple sessions covered Azure, VMware and GitHub.

Conclusion

While many of the conferences listed above are US-based, several have international equivalents or have related ‘roadshows’ for individual cities in the U.S and abroad. A little online research on IT or tech conferences for your country/city and its neighbors will definitely yield enough results for your tech conferencing needs if my selections do not suit. In addition, those with niche or industry-specific interests that are unsatisfied by general tech conferences will easily find alternatives to suit their requirements.

Topics: IT insights

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THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY Michael O'Dwyer

An Irishman based in Hong Kong, Michael O’Dwyer is a business & technology journalist, independent consultant and writer who specializes in writing for enterprise, small business and IT audiences. With 20+ years of experience in everything from IT and electronic component-level failure analysis to process improvement and supply chains (and an in-depth knowledge of Klingon,) Michael is a sought-after writer whose quality sources, deep research and quirky sense of humor ensures he’s welcome in high-profile publications such as The Street and Fortune 100 IT portals.

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