Top 14 conferences for CIOs in 2019
The CIO's lot is challenging. When you are responsible for an organization’s IT strategy, you hover between the business and technology worlds—and must keep up with both. It’s virtually impossible to stay current on your own, given how quickly technology changes and the number of ways in which it's incorporated in business.
Fortunately, many organizations are eager to share their industry expertise at conferences and symposia. That’s true across technology in general, with quite a few conferences targeted at, say, security professionals or open source practitioners.
However, some events are designed expressly for C-level staff. In some cases, that means a 30,000-foot view of the technology landscape; in others, it is an opportunity to learn what’s coming soon from the vendors you rely on.
This conference collection features 14 events with information of value to CIOs. It ranges from expensive multiday affairs to one-day free local sessions where much of the value is in networking with peers. I chose these events after wading through the descriptions of dozens available to find the ones that contain executive-level content—and I highlighted four with a gold star as particularly notable.
The recommendations are largely personal. I have attended five of these events more than once and would happily return to them for the presentation depth and breadth and experts available. I chose the others based on recommendations from colleagues. The fact that many of these CIO-friendly shindigs contain content that is also useful for other IT pros is a bonus, should a CIO want to take advantage of group discounts to educate staff at the same time.
This list includes conferences in the last quarter of 2018 and through 2019, sorted by date, with as much detail as has been announced. Check the conference websites for more information; some encourage you to sign up for email updates. And bear in mind that if you miss this year's edition, you can contact organizers to get details of next year's offering.
Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2018
Date: October 14-18, 2018
Location: Orlando, FL
Discounts: Public sector, group registration
The Gartner Symposium has an entire track devoted to the CIO, with workshops, access to Gartner analysts, and other perks. To be accepted into the track, a CIO must be responsible for a business unit or division with revenue of $250 million or more. Topics include growing the business by reorienting systems and processes around the customer; digital transformation; learning to demonstrate the entrepreneurial mindset of a start-up; and exploiting opportunities presented by analytical decision-making and emerging trends.
Assuming you meets its criteria and have the budget, this conference offers an analyst-level view of what matters to an IT organization, and an opportunity to connect with peers to mull over the insights.
Dates and locations: October 18, 2018, Los Angeles; December 5, 2018, Houston; 2019 dates and locations TBA
CIO Perspectives events bring together the expertise of the CIO magazine brand and an extensive network of IT leadership peers. These day-long executive forums take place annually in nine locations across the country: Dallas, Atlanta, New York, Reston (VA), Boston, Silicon Valley, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Houston. Created with the direct guidance of CIO advisory boards in each region, the agendas feature expert presentations, panels, workshops, and peer discussions on leadership, business strategy, and IT innovation. For example, the December 2018 event includes panels titled “The Trouble with Cloud Contracts: A CIO Crash Course in Managing Risk” and “Building a Cyber Security ‘Shock Absorber’ for the Enterprise.”
Date: October 22-25, 2018
Location: Half Moon Bay, CA
Discounts: Early bird; Constellation Executive Network members receive one free pass
At this three-day summit and executive retreat, attendees—who have included executives from Arby's Restaurant Group, CBRE, Estée Lauder, Spotify, Symmons Industries, the University of Texas system, and the U.S. government—learn about topics that drive transformation. This year, blockchain, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing figure among the subjects under examination.
Its executive view of emerging issues and opportunities lets you hear about real-world projects, warts and all. This year, Credit Suisse and SunTrust will discuss lessons learned from AI projects, for example, and a Constellation analyst will talk about enterprise use cases for quantum computing with Rigetti Computing. All of this makes Connected Enterprise a valuable use of time and money.
O'Reilly Velocity Conference
Dates and locations: October 30–November 2, 2018 London; 2019 dates and locations TBD
Cost: £1445 (US$1,883)
Discounts: Safari member, alumni, user groups, company teams, government, academic staff, full-time student, nonprofit
Velocity is billed as a great place for web operations and system engineering professionals to learn from their peers, share lessons learned, and exchange ideas with technology experts. However, O'Reilly says CIOs and CTOs looking to streamline operations will also find value. And where else would you find sessions like the following: "A New Vision for the Global Brain: Deep Learning with People Instead of Machines," in which a data scientist from GitHub talks about using (gasp) human intellect; "Reliability Engineering for Humans," in which site reliability engineering concepts are applied to the health and welfare of the team; and "Don't Panic!" in which the Financial Times shares how it set up incident response procedures for production.
Dates and locations: November 27-29, 2018 Madrid; 2019 TBD (usually June in Las Vegas)
Cost: €1,795.00 (US$2,084); TBA for Las Vegas
HPE Discover, held twice a year—once in Las Vegas in June and once in Europe in the fall—offers a look at what Hewlett Packard Enterprise and its partners are building, as well as an embedded CIO Summit. The June 2018 event featured HPE subject-matter experts who discussed product directions in detail and as well as customer panels titled “HPE customers share their experience with predictive analytics, all-flash, and hyperconverged solutions” and “How to prevent your DevOps initiatives from stalling.” Hewlett Packard Labs helped CIOs look ahead with sessions such as “10 questions you never knew you had about quantum computing” and “Driving memory-driven computing from research to reality.”
The embedded CIO track, plus the relentless focus on enterprise IT, grants HPE a gold star. Of particular interest to the geekier CIO: The Labs pod in the expo provides a look at the future of IT, often with hands-on displays and access to the researchers who are creating that future.
The State of Hiring: Learn how 101 IT execs find staff for critical positions and cajole in-demand tech specialists to accept their job offers
Date: November 29-30, 2018
Cost: €2,370 including VAT (US$2,752)
Discounts: Student group rate (minimum five); members, partners, and sponsors
The Drucker Forum this year delves into fundamental issues around machine intelligence and its role in decisions previously made by humans. The event introduction says, "Reasserting the human dimension means above all asking the ‘why’ questions that enable us to ponder deeply who we are, what we do, and where we should be going.” The speakers are top-notch deep thinkers with an emphasis on academia. So, for example, a panel titled “Strategy in the face of reality” includes professors from the London Business School, Columbia, and Duke University, and a session on the human pursuit of innovation includes the chair of the Leadership Initiative at Harvard Business School, the CEO of Sampark Foundation, and the CEO of IDEO.
AI World Conference and Expo
Date: December 3-5, 2018
Discounts: Early bird, academic, government, hospital-affiliated, group
Since AI and machine learning are hot technologies businesses are eager to adopt, CIOs need solid technology knowledge to steer their companies in the right direction. We can provide an overall list of the top AI and machine learning conferences to attend in 2019 (and, in fact, we will—watch this space), but most of those are geared toward the AI and machine learning practitioner.
The AI World Conference and Expo is aimed at enterprise executives and decision-makers from Global 2000 organizations, making it possibly more suitable for a CIO world view. The emphasis is on driving innovation and product development within the business rather than how-to information and tool sets. Some sample sessions: "AI as a Strategic Enterprise Capability," presented by Wells Fargo, whose representatives will describe lessons learned as well as specific use cases for machine learning; "Safety and Artificial Intelligence—Certification and Testing," a look at the use of AI in safety-critical environments, presented by Bell Helicopters; and a discussion of the issues around recruiting for AI, presented by MIT.
Date: February 12-15, 2019
Location: San Francisco
Cost: TBD (registration opens October 15, 2018); early-bird rate is $1,995
Discounts: Group rates
"Think" has long been IBM's tagline. When the company combined several conferences into one behemoth last year, it mixed high-level strategy discussions with tech talk to delve into the breadth and depth of technology and business topics to make us, yes, think. The conference runs the enterprise and emerging tech gamut: cloud, AI, data and analytics, blockchain, infrastructure…you name it.
For example, the 2018 conference featured Jaguar Land Rover talking about using IoT data to engineer better vehicles; Ticketmaster discussing its use of Watson Campaign Management for marketing; Interac, Deutsche Bank, and Boeing on blockchain use cases; and IBM's director of research presenting the company's quantum roadmap and how companies can become quantum-ready. All topics dear to a CIO's heart, they're mingled with an expo where in previous years you could meet Olli, a 3D printed autonomous bus that uses AI as its helpful virtual bus driver (who reminds you to bring an umbrella if rain is in the forecast).
Mobile World Congress
Dates and locations: February 25-28, 2019, Barcelona, Spain; June 26-28, 2019, Shanghai; October 22-24, 2019 Los Angeles
Cost: TBA; the 2018 Visitor/Exhibition pass was €799 (US$917)
Discount: Last year, GSMA members received a 30 percent discount.
Mobile World Congress is being rebranded this year, with each city having a unique moniker: MWC Barcelona, MWC Los Angeles, and MWC Shanghai. As its name implies, it is the show to attend to learn about all things mobile, with innovations on display in telecommunications, computing, and connected vehicles. The Barcelona show themes include AI, Industry 4.0, immersive content, disruptive innovation, digital wellness, digital trust, and the future.
A sample of previous event highlights includes “The Growing Pains of Machine Learning,” “New Business Models in Digital Financial Services,” and a full afternoon dedicated to blockchain and another on IoT, both under the umbrella of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. There was also a Diversity/Women4Tech track, which will also be offered in 2019.
It’s big, it’s crowded, and it’s chock-full of distractions. But if you want to find out what’s happening in the mobile world (which, let’s face it, is the world we live in) and talk to people in the know, MWC is the place to be.
Dates and locations: March 25-26, 2019, Boston; March 29, 2019, Atlanta; May 22-23, 2019, Philadelphia; September 18-19, 2019, Pittsburgh
Cost: Complimentary for director level and above
Premier Connects presents a series of complimentary forums featuring up-to-the-minute topics and expert speakers, each curated by an advisory council of CIOs and academics. The 2018 presentations included “Transition to an Outcome-based Organization,” “New Economics of IT,” and “Breaking Through Digital Deadlock: Strategies for Business and Technology Leaders.” For the budget-challenged, or for those who want to get their conferencing feet wet at a local event before diving into something costlier, these forums are a great start.
SAS Global Forum Executive Program
Date: April 28–May 1, 2019
Cost: Complimentary for director level and above
The SAS Global Forum Executive Program is colocated with the SASGF User Program, offering an executive-level view of the many facets of analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning in industries such as healthcare, banking, education, and government. In 2018, for example, attendees heard from Hewlett Packard Enterprise's Mark Barnum on accelerating IoT insights at the Intelligent Edge; SAS experts on best practices for driving business value with CECL compliance; Prescient Models on forecasting the value of fine wines; and the University of Oklahoma on principles and techniques for maintaining excellent service quality in technology.
Date: May 20-23, 2019
Cost: CAD$995 (US$758)
Discounts: Two for one
Collision covers a wide range of topics, from sustainability to automotive technology, but it has programs specifically for software development issues. It’s a big show, with more than 25,000 attendees. It’s also an opportunity to hear from C-level executives from many of the fastest growing and most exciting tech companies from around the world. In 2018, that included Al Gore; Susan Herman, president of the ACLU; John Zimmer, co-founder of Lyft; and Elie Seidman, CEO of Tinder.
MIT Sloan CIO Symposium
Date: May 22, 2019
Location: Cambridge, MA
The MIT Sloan CIO Symposium brings together IT executives from around the world and puts them on stage with faculty from MIT. The annual event offers a day of interactive learning and thought-provoking discourse on the future of technology, best practices, and business. The 2018 event featured a panel on closing the gap between strategy and execution, from the point of view of the editor in chief of MIT Sloan Management Review, the CMO of Trace3, the founder and managing partner of Strongbow Consulting Group, the CIO and SVP from Land O'Lakes, and a fellow of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy. Another group of C-level executives compared notes about the CIO's role in C-level cybersecurity leadership. And there was a discussion on creating a digital culture with a mix of IT executives, analysts, and MIT researchers.
Date: November 4-8, 2019
Location: Orlando, FL
Microsoft Envision is an exclusive, invitation-only event for thought leaders from around the world to gain forward-thinking insights, innovative solutions, and actionable plans to realize business transformation. It is colocated with the Microsoft Ignite user conference (formerly known as TechEd). While Ignite features mainly technical content (suitable for IT staffers and managers), the 2018 Envision sessions have a track to appeal to C-suite execs. Among those sessions were “Talent and the new world of work,” presented by LinkedIn's chief people officer, the head of global talent acquisition at Microsoft, and a Harvard Business School professor; “Empowering intelligent financial services,” presented by Microsoft and the project lead of disruptive innovation in financial services at the World Economic Forum; and “Intelligent retail: Delight your customers with an intelligent customer journey,” presented by H&M, Microsoft, and Build-a-Bear Workshop. Not to mention the closing keynote was a funny and insightful fireside chat with Trevor Noah.
It is likely that we will update this list through the year. Send your recommendations for conferences of value to CIOs via 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.
Lynn Greiner is a freelance technology writer, and the odd combination of a geek with a business degree. She spent many years working in corporate IT, both on the ground and in management, and is ITIL-certified.