Top Tech Conferences to Attend in 2020-2021 [UPDATED]

Industry Advice Computing and IT Science & Mathematics

Unprecedented advancements in technology and the growing complexity of the world’s research challenges demand novel approaches to discovery and innovation. One way for leaders in STEM to stay ahead of this curve is by attending the nation’s top tech conferences.

These conferences are an excellent chance for STEM professionals to develop valuable connections, exchange groundbreaking ideas, share best practices, and learn new skills while staying abreast of emerging trends and practices in the ever-evolving technology landscape. 

However, with dozens of conferences to choose from, it can be challenging to select the right one for your organization. And, with the emergence of the COVID-19 global pandemic, it has become difficult to accurately plan for future events.

Below, we’ve put together an updated list of the top ten technology conferences for 2020-2021 to help narrow your choices. Reference this list to select the conference(s) that will provide the most value for you and your organization.

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Top 10 Technology Conferences of 2020-2021

[All conference dates and formats are subject to change.] 

1. Black Hat USA

Date: August 1-6, 2020

Format: Virtual

Black Hat USA enters its 23rd year as “the world’s leading information security event” for those interested in the latest trends in information security. The five-day event will be offered exclusively online with its standard vendor-neutral environment.

Participants will gain access to training sessions made up of technical courses, briefings with leading security researchers, and more. The programming is also uniquely ideal for individuals from a variety of backgrounds, including members of the security field, sponsors, career seekers, recruiters, members of academia, and more.

2. Cyber Security Summit

Dates: Charlotte, NC—August 13, 2020; Seattle, WA—October 9, 2020; Boston, MA—November 5, 2020

Format: Virtual

The Cyber Security Summit aims to connect C-level and senior executives in charge of using technology to protect their organizations’ critical infrastructures with leading cyber solution providers. The structure of the event includes interactive panels, networking opportunities, and round table discussions with experts in the field.

The conference is normally held in a variety of the nation’s top cities to accommodate the demand and travel limitations of high-level executive attendees; however, the remaining 2020 summits will be held exclusively online. A full list of upcoming summits can be found here. Individuals who participate in a full day of the summit will not only gain insight into top cybersecurity strategies but also earn six “Continuing Professional Education” (CPE) credits for their time at the event.

3. Big Data Toronto

Date: September 29-30, 2020 

Format: Virtual and In-Person (Toronto, Canada)

With aspirations to be “the most productive conference you attend this year,” Big Data Toronto will deliver a hybrid live and online event for two-days in the fall. Over 6,000 online and offline attendees are forecasted to attend the “4-in-1” learning experience from Big Data & AI Toronto, Cybersecurity Toronto, and CloudExpo Toronto.

The weekend also includes exclusive access to 300 speakers, 100 showcased brands, and dozens of skill-based workshops and product demonstrations relating to the tools, strategies, and trends within the data industry. All sessions will be live-streamed online and available on-demand until December 31, 2020. 

4. VMworld

Date: September 29-October 1, 2020

Format: Virtual

Hosted by VMware, this event is designed to help businesses expand their knowledge and use of software within their organization. With an online-only format for 2020, attendees will dive into topics such as cloud-based solutions, networking and security, digital workspace, and the exploration of emerging industry trends.

VMworld 2020 offers two online passes with a free “General Pass” option and a paid “Premier Pass”, which includes roundtable sessions and one-on-one expert consultations with VMware engineers. All participants will gain access to more than 500 on-demand VMworld sessions, including business-level overviews and technical deep-dive sessions as well.

5. Open Data Science Conference

Date: October 27-30, 2020

Format: Virtual and In-Person (Santa Clara, CA)

With a hybrid format of in-person and virtual learning, ODSC 2020 includes four days of training and two days of keynotes and workshops highlighting eight focus areas surrounding data science.

With 40 training sessions and workshops, 200 speakers, 7500 attendees, and 300 hours of content, ODSC is considered “one of the largest applied data science conferences in the world.” Attendees will also have the chance to interact with some of the latest data science projects being developed today, including work in AI, VR, and more.

6. AWS re:Invent

Date: November 30-December 18, 2020

Format: Virtual

Organizers for re:Invent 2020 recently announced the conference will be going virtual and free in 2020. Hosted by Amazon Web Services, this three-week event is perfect for tech developers, engineers, system architects, and other technology-based employees.

AWS re:Invent offers a great opportunity to network—more than 65,000 industry professionals attended re:Invent in 2019. Other event features include expert educational sessions, AWS certification exams, and more. Interested in learning more? Subscribe to receive conference updates here.

7. O’Reilly Software Architecture

Date: Varies (See schedule of live training sessions for details)

Format: Virtual

Organizers for the O’Reilly Software Architecture Conference recently announced a shift to online learning with the cancellation of all in-person conferences (including the O’Reilly Artificial Intelligence Conference) for the immediate future. However, employees involved with decision making at the software architecture-level will still have the opportunity to learn about techniques, trends, and other frameworks within the technology industry.

With dozens of online sessions scheduled for the remainder of 2020, participants can gain hands-on training in critical technology, design, and business topics from expert practitioners and tech innovators. If your organization is looking for educational training highlighting a specific topic in a smaller setting, then registering for any O’Reilly online session is a great alternative.

8. Augmented World Expo (AWE)

Date: June 2-4, 2021

Format: In-person (Santa Clara, CA)

Forbes named the AWE as “the most essential AR/VR conference” in 2018, and the annual event continues to feature education through an immersive experience for developers, entrepreneurs, product leaders, investors, and creators alike. The 2020 expo shifted to an online format where over 3,000 participants joined the conversation surrounding the emerging applications of AR and VR across sectors, and the potential technical, ethical, and legal challenges that accompany the development of such disruptive technology. 

Attendees can prep for AWE 2021 by accessing more than 100 hours of content on-demand, including sessions from leading organizations, such as Facebook, Google, Disney, GE, and Amazon.

9. Consumer Technology Association (CES)

Date: January 6-9, 2021

Format: Virtual

For the first time ever, the Consumer Technology Association is shifting to an exclusive online-only format for 2021. Attendees can expect a highly personalized experience with on-demand keynote sessions, product showcases, and virtual roundtable discussions.

Labeled “the most influential tech event in the world”, CES has become the proving ground for global innovators and the latest breakthrough technologies. In addition to providing a showcase for new technology, CES also includes a conference program for industry leaders to collaborate and provide solutions to the latest issues. Some familiar companies include manufacturers, developers, and suppliers of consumer technology hardware, content, and technology delivery systems. If your company is looking for the latest technological innovations, then CES 2021 is a must-attend virtual event.

10. Deep Learning Summit

Date: January 28-29, 2021

Format: Virtual

More than 800 STEM professionals from across the world traveled to San Francisco for the 2020 Deep Learning Summit to learn about the latest innovations and insights for AI. With over 100 information sessions and dozens of networking opportunities, it’s no surprise the Deep Learning Summit was recently voted the “#1 Best Artificial Intelligence Conference for Business Leaders.”

The 2021 Summit will take place exclusively online from January 28-29. Discounted tickets are available now, as virtual attendees will gain access to interactive Q&A sessions, dozens of complimentary presentations, and chances to network from any device. For STEM professionals interested in the latest trends impacting businesses, industries, and society, this annual event is a must-attend.

Looking for More?

These top tech conferences are a great place for leaders in STEM to develop the skills required to foster technological innovation in their organizations. For professionals looking for more comprehensive and specialized training, however, a certificate or degree may be the next step.

Northeastern offers a technology-focused portfolio of online and on-ground programs based in globally recognized centers of innovation, entrepreneurship, and growth, including Seattle, Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Charlotte, and Toronto.

Home to a wide variety of companies and institutions that share the university’s vision, these locations serve as a hub for cutting-edge thought leaders who inspire, create, and execute on new technologies and research daily.

These epicenters of discovery have a significant need for workers educated in science, technology, engineering, and math. Northeastern’s unique programs, grounded in experiential learning, are customized to offer students the knowledge and skills that these regions’ employers demand.

To learn more about advancing your tech career with Northeastern, explore the related degrees offered at our regional locations in Seattle, Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Charlotte, and Toronto.

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