The top 12 data and analytics conferences to attend in 2019
Data and analytics are both permanent business fixtures and in a constant state of flux. In some ways, analytics technologies have matured, yet many are still evolving, with changes that may permanently reshape or disrupt business models and processes and thus change the market space forever. It can be difficult, then, to identify which conferences to attend to get what you need. Some events are suitable for specialists who want to know the latest programming techniques; others are best suited to executives designing big data corporate strategies.
Whatever your needs, these 12 conferences are well worth your time. I would attend these conferences myself; they are all focused on gaining much needed traction where the rubber hits the road. I'm personally focused on learning how to use and leverage technologies to their best effect. And I'm greatly annoyed by marketing-speak. The conferences I list below are all red meat for data professionals—particularly the one I highlight with a gold star, as its value is superlative.
Date: February 26-27, 2019
Location: San Francisco
This conference focuses on data management, big data analytics, data science, and business-facing data-driven applications for senior-level executives and practitioners alike. This is Modern Data Management Summit’s third year, gathering together data management and machine learning experts, with plenty of educational presentations, workshops, hands-on test drives, and networking.
It has three tracks: modern data management; machine learning and artificial intelligence; and healthcare and life sciences. The 2019 speaker line-up includes data and analytics experts from some of the world’s most well-known brands, with panel sessions like “Enterprise Data Management at Scale” and “Avoiding the Science Project: The Chief Data Officer's Perspective on Modern Data Management.”
Data Fest 2019
Date: March 11-17, 2019
Location: Multiple venues across Scotland
Cost: Maximum of £256.19 (US$337)
Data Fest is the umbrella name for six or so events that are held in venues spread across Scotland in one week’s time. I like the festival approach and the ability to choose which events to attend and control my costs, too. The networking feels more natural, so it’s easy for introverts to get involved. Data Fest is also a great way to see a good bit of Scotland, especially if you haven’t been before.
Events have international speakers and presenters, and the content is top notch. The 2019 events look to be shaping up like the 2018 lineup, which included the Data Summit, a two-day international conference for data leaders and practitioners; Data Talent, a place for data science and engineering students and practitioners to meet employers; Fringe Events, which includes meetups, hackathons, debates, and training sessions peppered around Scotland; Data Tech, an intense day focused on technical issues; and Women in Data Science, which is part of the global Women in Data Science initiative by Stanford University.
Open Data Science Conference
Date: May 1-4, 2019
Cost: $399 to $2,599
The Open Data Science Conference is one of the largest conferences for data scientists, bringing together the communities and interests shared by open science and open source. Accelerate AI is also part of this event, with its focus on the latest in AI and data science topics, tools, and languages.
This is heavy-duty data science stuff taught by legendary data scientists such as Kirk Borne, former astrophysicist at NASA and professor of astrophysics and computational science at George Mason University, and currently principal data scientist at Booz Allen Hamilton. He’s routinely rated by a number of organizations as the top data scientist in the country. And he’s just one of the impressive speakers at this conference.
Date: January 27-29, 2019
Location: San Diego
Cost: Request an invite; cost revealed on acceptance
This event is a unique combination of peer-to-peer networking in one-on-one prescheduled meetings and the traditional conference lineup. Aimed at senior-level decision-makers, this conference is by invitation only. You can request an invitation; if you are accepted, they’ll tell you the price.
Those one-on-one meetings are set up between decision-makers and pre-qualified vendor. That’s not surprising, given every conference has a sales component. But what is unique here is that the chosen vendor matches what you say you need or a problem you’re looking to answer. Sometimes, vendors are light years ahead of their customers in understanding and using advanced analytics and data technologies and processes. Thus, these pairings could be useful.
Otherwise, the sessions are informative and focused on problem solving. The professional networking is good, too, considering this tends to be a group of decision-makers with few minions in the fold.
The theme this year is “Winning Enterprise Adoption of the Data Culture.” Topics include data cleansing and data quality as a corporate responsibility, “marrying big data to big analytics,” and data-driven strategies to optimize the work of your data and analytics teams. While none of that sounds particularly sexy, these are all stubborn problems blocking digitalization and data-based decision-making. There isn’t a chief data officer on the planet who isn’t struggling with these issues to one degree or another. Perhaps swapping ideas with peers can lead you to a breakthrough strategy.
Date: February 4-5, 2019
Location: San Diego
Cost: $600 to $2,495
Once used primarily to make customer recommendations or predict maintenance needs, predictive analytics is now used for myriad other business uses. Today, the subject combines statistical analysis, predictive modeling, data mining, text analytics, and machine learning techniques.
At this conference, experts from well-known brands deliver keynotes, presentations, and workshops. Many address customer-focused strategies, but some address practical use in operations and processes. A previous year’s presentation, “A Little Lean Goes a Long Way: SF Ballet's Lean Ops Transformation,” given by Kimberly Karim, CFO at San Francisco Ballet, is a prime example of the type of real-world information shared here.
Enterprise Data World
Date: March 17-22, 2019
Cost: $995 to $3,295
This is the 23rd year for Enterprise Data World Conference, suggesting that the organizers have been paying attention to the subject since we referred to IT as “data processing.” The six-day conference—three of which are dedicated to in-depth tutorials and workshops—is aimed at data professionals of all stripes. The remainder of the conference is filled with sessions, case studies, and certification training and testing.
This conference is built for data professionals doing the nitty-gritty daily work that makes digital transformation a train and not a train wreck. Sample session titles for 2019 include “Applying Human-Centered Design Thinking Principles to Enterprise Metadata Design,” “7 Essential Artifacts for a Successful Data Governance and Data Quality Program,” and “Building a Multi-Purpose Logical Data Lake—the Engine Room of the Data-Driven Enterprise.”
Gartner Data and Analytics Summit 2019
Date: March 18-21, 2019
Cost: $3,050 to $3,575
Research giant Gartner conducts an extensive and intensive conference every year. It’s not cheap, but it is packed with info from its leading analysts. Insights include what other companies are doing with data and how, as well as myths and leading trends.
The 2019 agenda is still being finalized, but the 2018 lineup gives plenty of clues as to what you can expect. The 2018 conference had nine tracks, including Pervasive Analytics; Data-centric Architecture; and Innovation: The Way Ahead. Session topics included the role of citizen data scientists and developers, blockchain and IoT, the corporate responsibilities of a chief data officer, and artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Strata Data Conference
Date and locations: March 25-28, 2019 (San Francisco); April 29–May 2, 2019 (London); TBD New York
This conference launched in 2012 as Strata + Hadoop World. It’s been held every year since then, in San Francisco as well as New York and London. Initially, the combined O’Reilly and Cloudera conferences addressed the then new field of big data and Hadoop. Much has changed since, including the conference name. Nowadays, Strata is considered by many—including me—to be the leading big data conference.
Largely, that’s because Strata stays on top of the latest in big data. New sessions and tracks added in 2018, for example, include ubiquitous computing, collaboration, reproducibility, new interfaces, emerging architecture, building data teams, and all things related to machine data. Sample session topics in 2018 include “Expand your data science and machine learning skills with Python, R, SQL, Spark, and TensorFlow,” “Machine learning from scratch in TensorFlow,” and “Building a large-scale machine learning application using Amazon SageMaker and Spark.” All very practical, using the latest tools. If you want to come home with knowledge to put to use immediately, consider this conference.
Marketing Analytics and Data Science
Date: April 8-10, 2019
Location: San Francisco
Cost: $450 to $2,895
Analytics understandably gets a lot of attention in the marketing realm, where businesses are motivated to learn what works to attract and retain customers. The “MADS” conference is all about using data for marketing, improving the customer experience, and fattening the bottom line. While it’s programmed for marketing and salespeople, there are also tracks for data science and analytics pros, as well as R&D and operations professionals. For each track, the goal remains the same: how to pull trends and gain insights from data quickly and profitably.
In 2018, the conference had two tracks: “The Big Picture—Creating the Strategy for Maximum Business Impact and Influence” and “Getting Dirty with Data—Leveraging Tools, Techniques, and Methodology to Improve Decision-Making.” In other words, one track is for strategy building and the other for data mining. Session topics included “Breaking Up with a Bad Paradigm: Transforming from Traditional Media to an Analytics-Focused Culture,” “Black Twitter: Building Authentic Relationships with African Americans,” and “How to Grow Market Share: Using Data to Connect Strategy to Activation.” The 2019 conference looks to be shaping up similarly.
Date: May 21-22, 2019
Cost: $295 to $1,395
The Data Summit conference is aimed at both data science and data analyst professionals. Data analysts will find lots of information on the latest in business intelligence, analytics, and business strategies. Data science professionals will find more technical deep dives in their track. Sessions are led by accomplished professionals from industry, academia, and analyst firms.
The 2019 tracks include Building the Data-Driven Future; Competing on Analytics; Digital Transformation; and Moving to a Modern Data Architecture. In addition, there are three summits at the conference: the Cognitive Computing and AI Summit, the Data Lake Boot Camp, and the DataOps Boot Camp. Session topics at the 2018 conference included “From Bottlenecks to Breakthroughs: The Rise of Data Wrangling,” “Disrupting Paradigms With Analytics,” and “Polyglot Persistence Versus Multi-Model Databases.”
Date: June 12-13, 2019
Cost: $500 to $1,000 (presumably in Canadian dollars; website is unclear)
This event is Canada’s top big data and analytics conference and expo. While the 2019 schedule is not finalized yet, it’s expected to follow 2018’s path in topics: predictive analytics, advanced machine learning, data governance, privacy, cybersecurity, smart home and IoT, digital transformation, Hadoop, cloud analytics, and cloud computing. Sample 2018 sessions include “Build a Sentiment Analysis Pipeline,” “Master Class: Python for Data Science,” and “Building an Enterprise Research Lab.”
In other words, it’s full of practical, technical information. If you’re looking for philosophical debates over AI and pie-in-the-sky futuristic stuff, this is not the conference you need. However, if you need to learn big data and analytics tools and strategies right here, right now, this could be a winner for you.
Date: TBD; in 2018 it was in July
If you want to slow things down a bit and get a strong but basic introduction to data science, this is a cool conference you can attend online for free. Day 1 is tailored for aspiring data scientists, and Day 2 is uniquely programmed for data-curious business leaders. It’s a convenient way to come up to speed on data and analytics.
More than 20,000 aspiring data scientists and data-curious business leaders from more than 100 countries registered for this event in 2018. A similar turnout is expected in 2019. Attendees of the 2018 conference included industry CEOs, directors, and data scientists.
Sample sessions from the 2018 event include “A Badass’s Guide to Breaking into Data,” “You’re a Long Way from Kaggle, Dorothy,” and “The Five Pillars of Data Science and Common Misconceptions.”
Did we miss any conferences or events?
Without question, it’s worth your time to attend one of these conferences. That’s true whether you’re an expert in the field or someone wanting to break in. There is a shortage of data scientists, and that shortage is expected to continue unabated for the foreseeable future. Companies are happy to see people at beginner-level conferences as much as at advanced conferences because they’re glad to see more people joining the career field and more business leaders becoming data savvy.
We worked hard to bring you the best conferences and events on IoT based on the freshness and usefulness of content as well as the best networking opportunities. But if we missed a conference or event you find useful for any reason, please share that info with us on Twitter at @enterprisenxt.
This article/content was written by the individual writer identified and does not necessarily reflect the view of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company.