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Top virtual tech conferences to attend in 2021

Tech conferences have moved from the convention hall to the Internet. The new formats make them more accessible, innovative, and usually free.

The world of tech conferences and trade shows was upended by the pandemic, but most have recovered as virtual events. It is not the same experience, but in many ways, it's better. For example:

  • There are no travel costs.
  • Most of the conferences themselves are free to attendees.
  • The all-online format has allowed innovations that were impractical for a physical conference, such as short sessions.
  • Events are generally available for replay not long after they conclude.

There is reason to believe that in-person tech conferences and trade shows will recover when people feel safe with them—in fact, some vendors have already tentatively decided on live events in 2021. But the innovations of virtual conferences will probably survive as well, and some of the optimistically scheduled live events may revert to virtual-only as the COVID-19 situation evolves.

Below is a list of events to come and some that may have concluded by the time you read this. But don't ignore the completed ones; the archived sessions may be just what you're looking for. For the same reasons, you may want to scroll through our 2020 top virtual tech conferences list. Many of the events have excellent, free, archived content.

Bear in mind that virtual conferences are a new phenomenon and some events have suffered from technical problems. These problems may be reflected in their archived sessions, but as the producers of the conferences gain experience, quality should improve.

For many of the events, we have listed the cost as unknown, meaning at this time, it is not clear if there will be a charge or not. You should check back at the conference website.

December 2020 conferences

AWS re:Invent

Twitter: @awsreinvent

Website: https://reinvent.awsevents.com/

Dates: Nov. 30 – Dec. 18

Cost: Free

This year, AWS re:Invent will be presented across three weeks of keynotes, launches, sessions, and surprises. Fifty content tracks in eight languages will "follow the sun," allowing attendees to plan a schedule that suits their time zone. Sign up on the conference website for email updates.

Web Summit 2020

Twitter: @websummit

Website: https://websummit.com/

Dates: Dec. 2-4

Cost: Single tickets €179, VIP ticket €999

Web Summit offers more than 800 speakers over three days with an alphabet soup of topics ranging from advertising AI and entertainment to robotics, smart cities, sport, and telecommunications. It typically attracts more than 100,000 visitors, offering global networking opportunities.

Conversational AI Mini Summit

Twitter: @teamrework

Website: www.re-work.co

Date: Dec. 2

Cost: $50

During this half-day event, discover how machine learning and natural language processing can help create digital assistants, chatbots, and conversational interfaces to improve customer experience and increase engagement.

FTTH Conference 2020

Twitter: @FTTHCouncilEU

Website: https://ftthconference.eu/

Dates: Dec. 2-3

Cost: €95

Nineteen expert workshops, 17 conference panels sessions, and keynote speeches offer insights from leading policymakers, business leaders, technology experts, and investors in the telecom and digital communications sector. A virtual expo showcases more than 100 FTTH/B solution providers and fiber-to-the-home partners.

Dreamforce to you 2020

Twitter: @dreamforce

Website: www.salesforce.com/dreamforce/

Dates: Dec. 2 (keynote), Dec. 14-17 (rest of conference)

Cost: Free

The event begins with a keynote on Dec. 2 and continues with four days of content, demos, luminary sessions, and, says Salesforce, "a whole lot of Trailblazer love."

Interop Digital

Twitter: @interop

Website: www.interop.com/december-virtual-event

Date: Dec. 3

Cost: Free

In this virtual event, top networking and security experts will discuss the challenges today's distributed enterprise introduces, the adoption and enhancement of traditional methodologies to address them, and new strategies and solutions that can help.

2020 HMG Live! Global Innovation Summit

Twitter: @HMGStrategy

Website: https://hmgstrategy.com/events/upcoming-summits/2020/12/03/default-calendar/2020-new-york-global-innovation-summit

Date: Dec. 3

Cost: Free

HMG's virtual summits all focus on the theme "Reimagining the Business and the Future of Work," gathering speakers who share their advice on the roles CIOs and tech leaders can play in reshaping the business and the future of work.

Black Hat Europe

Twitter: @BlackHatEvents

Website: www.blackhat.com/eu-20/

Dates: Dec. 7–10

Cost: Free

Training courses, sessions, and a virtual business hall offering networking opportunities as well as a look at security products and solutions combine to provide attendees with the latest in research, development, and trends in information security.

WebexOne

Twitter: @Webex
Website: www.webex.com/webexone.html
Dates: Dec. 8-9
Cost: Free

WebexOne is Cisco's premier digital collaboration conference, bringing together into a single event the best of Cisco Collaboration Summit, BroadSoft Connections, and Cisco Contact Center Summit. It includes two days of conversations with thought leaders, luminaries, celebrities, technology partners, and Cisco executives, plus more than 30 customer and partner sessions.

Chrome Dev Summit 2020

Twitter: @chromiumdev

Website: https://developer.chrome.com/devsummit/

Dates: Dec. 9–10

Cost: Free

This event offers an opportunity to hear directly from Chrome leadership and product and engineering teams about the latest innovations and updates through technical sessions, office hours, workshops, and more.

Healthcare Automation from Machine Learning to AI

Twitter: @GLCEurope

Website: https://glceurope.com/healthcare-automation-from-machine-learning-to-ai-masterclass-details

Dates: Dec. 9–11

Cost: Unknown

This three-day online live course is intended to go through the complete roadmap that leads to the immense universe of artificial intelligence.

2020 HMG Live! Financial Services CIO Executive Leadership Summit

Twitter: @HMGStrategy

Website: https://hmgstrategy.com/events/upcoming-summits/2020/12/10/default-calendar/2020-financial-services-cio-executive-leadership-summit

Date: Dec. 10

Cost: Free

HMG's virtual summits all focus on the theme "Reimagining the Business and the Future of Work," gathering speakers who share their advice on the roles that CIOs and tech leaders can play in reshaping the business and the future of work.

2020 SIM Connect Live

Twitter: @HMGStrategy

Website: https://hmgstrategy.com/events/upcoming-summits/2020/12/15/default-calendar/sim-connect-live-2020

Date: Dec. 15

Cost: Free

The Society for Information Management (SIM) International is comprised of more than 5,000 CIOs, senior IT executives, prominent academicians, consultants, and IT leaders who collaborate and network year-round. With themes of reimagining the business and driving cultural change in 2021 and beyond, SIM Connect offers plenty of interactivity in the form of Q&As during the half-day event.

2021 conferences

CES 2021

Twitter: @ces

Website: www.ces.tech/

Dates: Jan. 11–14

Cost: Unknown

Registration opens Dec. 1 for the first-ever virtual CES. The event will feature all the components that made the live event a must-attend: conference programming, networking opportunities, and the monster exhibitor showcase. Keynoters will include Lisa Su, president and CEO of AMD, Mary Barra, chairman and CEO of General Motors, and Hans Vestberg, chairman and CEO of Verizon.

Edge Global Week

Twitter: @TheEdgeCongress

Website: https://events.broad-group.com/event/7d6c41b3-6c26-4e93-bcb2-aa19c7d0cb66/websitePage:a1c039ec-7659-4392-a235-2318a1650e1c

Dates: Jan. 26–28

Cost: Free

Global trends in edge computing, edge enablers, ecosystem readiness, and more are combined in this three-day virtual learning experience, which will include 80 speakers, edge players from around the world, value chain analysis, meeting opportunities, and a projects showcase.

Linux Foundation Member Summit

Twitter: @linuxfoundation

Website: https://events.linuxfoundation.org/lf-member-summit/

Dates: March 9–11

Cost: Free

Currently only dates have been announced for this virtual event. Sign up on the website for updates.

From the event's sponsorship prospectus: The Linux Foundation Member Summit (formerly Open Source Leadership Summit) is the annual gathering for Linux Foundation member organizations.

The event fosters collaboration, innovation, and partnerships among the leading projects and organizations working to drive digital transformation with open source technologies. It is a must-attend for business and technical leaders looking to advance open source strategy, implementation, and investment in their organizations and learn how to collaboratively manage the largest shared technology investment of our time.

Adobe Summit

Twitter: @adobesummit

Website: https://summit.adobe.com/na/

Dates: April 13–15

Cost: Free

The agenda is not yet announced, but Adobe says it will include everything experience makers will need to meet the future with confidence and inspiration, with content on marketing automation, analytics, advertising, and commerce to help reimagine customer experiences in 2021 and beyond. Subscribe to the mailing list for more information.

Red Hat Summit

Twitter: @redhatsummit

Website: www.redhat.com/en/summit

Dates: April 27–28 and June 15–16; in-person events in September, locations TBD

Cost: Unknown

Red Hat has divided its 2021 Summit into three segments. In April, there will be news and announcements plus ask-the-expert sessions and open source information. June will offer breakout sessions and technical content, and beginning in September, there will be in-person labs, demos, training, and networking opportunities in several cities. The virtual components in April and June will be free. Sign up on the conference site for email updates on the agenda and conference plans.

RSA Conference

Twitter: @rsaconference

Website: www.rsaconference.com/usa

Dates: May 17–20

Cost: Unknown

RSA originally planned a combined physical and virtual conference for 2021 but recently announced a pivot to completely digital. The theme is "Resilience," and the plan is for content to cover 20 tracks with 300-plus sessions, keynotes, partner seminars, and sponsor briefings as well as interactive and traditional sessions. RSAC 2021 will include many of RSA's feature programs like the Innovation Sandbox Contest, Capture the Flag events, Birds of a Feather, opportunities for attendees to connect with each other, an expansive Sponsor Resource Center, and much more. The agenda and pricing are yet to be announced; you can register for updates on the conference website.

TECHSPO Toronto 2021

Twitter: @techspotweets

Website: https://techspotoronto.ca

Dates and location: May 20–21, Toronto

Cost: One free visitor pass per company, $17 additional (until April 9), $37 regular. Training $197 early bird, $297 regular; all-access $297 early bird, $397 regular.

TECHSPO, so far, is planned as an in-person event bringing together some of the best developers, brands, marketers, technology providers, designers, innovators, and evangelists looking to set the pace in our advanced world of technology.

HPE Discover

Twitter: @HPE_Discover

Website: www.hpe.com/us/en/discover.html

Dates and location: June 2021, Las Vegas (not final)

Cost: Unknown

HPE Discover 2021 Las Vegas brings together Hewlett Packard Enterprise customers, employees, and partners, including engineers, directors, architects, IT managers, VPs, and CIOs

 

Cisco Live

Twitter: @ciscolive

Website: www.ciscolive.com/us.html

Dates and location: June 6–10, Las Vegas

Cost: Unknown

Cisco is currently planning an in-person event. No agenda has been announced; sign up on the website for further information as it emerges.

SAPPHIRE NOW

Twitter: @sapphirenow

Website: https://events.sap.com/sapandasug/en/home.html

Dates and location: June 8–10, Orlando, Florida

Cost: Unknown

SAP hopes to return to a live event in 2021. No agenda details have been announced; sign up on the conference website for information as it becomes available.

Infocomm

Twitter: @infocomm

Website: www.infocommshow.org/

Dates and location: June 12 – 18, 2021, Orlando, Florida

Cost: Unknown

Billed as the largest professional audio-visual trade show in North America, Infocomm plans to offer conference sessions, networking, and an expo. The agenda has yet to be announced; sign up on the website for updates.

Collision 2021

Twitter: @collisionHQ

Website: https://collisionconf.com/

Dates and location: June 21–24, Toronto

Cost: Unknown

Collision currently plans for an in-person event in 2021. Its topic areas include marketing and media, developers and data, society, commerce, lifestyle, and business development. Sign up for updates on the conference website.

Google Cloud Next '21

Twitter: #GoogleCloudNext

Website: https://cloud.withgoogle.com/next/sf/

Dates and location: June 28–30, San Francisco

Cost: Unknown

Google is hoping to return to a live event in 2021but has not released any details. It described its 2020 event as "a week of Industry Insights content, digital learning opportunities, and more."

MWC Barcelona

Twitter: @GSMA

Website: www.mwcbarcelona.com/

Dates and location: June 28 – July 1, Barcelona

Cost: Unknown

GSMA is currently planning to host MWC live in Barcelona after being forced to cancel the event in 2020. Although the program has yet to be announced, expect thousands of exhibitors from all areas of connectivity, plenty of networking opportunities, and high-profile speakers. You can sign up for email updates on the event website.

Open Source Summit North America

Twitter: @linuxfoundation

Website: https://events.linuxfoundation.org/open-source-summit-north-america-2021/

Dates and location: Aug. 4–6, Vancouver

Cost: Unknown

Currently, the Linux Foundation is planning on a live event, which will he held concurrently with the Embedded Linux Conference. The agenda has yet to be announced; sign up on the website for information as it is released.

IFA

Twitter: @ifa_berlin

Website: https://b2b.ifa-berlin.com/

Dates and location: Sept. 3–7, Berlin

Cost: Unknown

After its hybrid event in 2020, IFA is planning a fully in-person event for 2021, showcasing the latest in consumer electronics, home appliances, and related industries. Agenda and ticket pricing will be available in the spring of 2021.

Leap

Twitter: @LEAPandInnovate

Website: www.onegiantleap.com/en/home.html

Dates and location: Nov. 28–30, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Cost: Unknown

The conference will showcase AI, blockchain, IoT, robotics, big data, 3D printing, fintech, AR/VR, and more, offering opportunities to network and support the growing Saudi ICT sector.

This article/content was written by the individual writer identified and does not necessarily reflect the view of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company.