What will 2019 bring to the conference industry? 7 predictions…

What will the new year bring? No one knows for sure, but here are my predictions for how 2019 will play out in the conference industry.

1) A continued focus on AI content/conferences. Many tech luminaries are predicting that 2019 will be the year AI grows up or becomes more applicable to a broader group of people and businesses. If that is the case, there will be plenty to talk about and conference agenda will continue to include AI case studies and debates. I predict that most of the conference material will be focused on real world applications, illustrating how others are actually using this technology.

2) An increased focus on Quantum Computing sessions/conferences. Last month, U.S. Congress passed the National Quantum Initiative Act, a bill aimed at accelerating the development of quantum computing. This technology has the potential to transform many industries, but also poses security risks. Business leaders are interested in understanding its impact and how they should prepare. Expect to see more tracks and standalone conferences dedicated to Quantum Computing in 2019.

3) More companies creating their own conferences for customers and partners. There are several long-running events in this category, hosted by industry giants… IBM Think, Salesforce Dreamforce, RSA Conference. Hosting a conference is a great way to control your message, generate buzz around product launches or announcements, and combat the shrinking keynote timeslots at industry conferences (now averaging 15 – 20 minutes). 2018 saw even more company-run conferences, such as Magic Leap’s LEAP event in September. 2019 will bring much of the same.

4) Another big conference bites the dust. I expect one of the big trade associations will end a long-running conference. This typically happens when established conference groups – either media publications or an overseas conference producer swoops in and draws away attendance and sponsorship dollars. We saw this in recent years with the demise of NCTA’s Cable Show and NRF’s Shop.org. Who’s next?

5) Fewer one-on-one fireside chats at business and technology media conferences. Audiences want variety and interaction. They want insights into what executives are thinking and doing with regards to new trends and technologies. For this reason, conference managers have limited the number of single speaker sessions and have increased the number of mini-panels and expanded fireside chats – two execs and a moderator on stage. This provides varied perspectives on a topic and seems to keep the audience more engaged.

6) A resurgence of the more convenient conference locations. New Orleans and Miami had been gaining in popularity as conference locations over the past few years, but ease of travel will become even more important in 2019. New York, San Francisco, LA and maybe even Chicago will be popular as ever as busy executives try to maximize or decrease their travel time.

7) Media publications continue to increase their conference presence. Businesses tend to follow the money, and print publications are not as lucrative as they once were. There is money to be had in the conference industry, however. For this reason, we will continue to see media companies increase their conference lineup in 2019, utilizing their established brand/connections to sign up attendees and sponsors and their market knowledge to build relevant and timely agenda.


Conference News: What I learned this week – November 10, 2017

Make a CMO CONNECTion: Quartz Events, host of 12 bi-annual, invitation-only events will debut a new conference in 2018:  the CONNECT CMO Leadership Summit. Hosted at the Red Rock in Las Vegas, 29 April 29 – 1 May, the agenda will offer high-level, actionable insights to help VP’s and C-level marketing executives “advance their organizations, learn from industry thought-leaders, and keep up with the ever-changing marketing environment.”  To learn more about the new event check out the website here.

Getting down to Business: According to the O’Reilly AI Conference has seen its core audience of technical practitioners (data scientist, deep learning engineer, AI engineer, AI researcher) expand to include high-level executives with responsibilities in technology, marketing, finance, research and development, and general management. Therefore, the conference organizers have announced that in order to better serve this leadership audience, they are introducing more non-technical content in 2018. According to the O’Reilly team, the Business Summit within the AI Conference will cover “a set of core topics that are of immediate concern to nearly every executive, as well as additional topics relevant to the local audience.”

Advertising Accelerated: The American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) has renamed its annual conference, taking place from 8 – 11 April in Miami Beach. It will now be known as Accelerate.  According to the organization, the new name better captures the state of the advertising industry.

Speaking Opportunity: On 7- 8 June 2018 Shopper Brain Conference USA will bring together retailers, shopper marketing experts and neuromarketers to learn more about the shopper’s brain. The organizers of this New York-based event are looking for speakers who can address topics related to shopper decision making such as developing and testing new products using neuroscience; the why of the shopper’s path of purchase; effective display design; the unconscious and effective packaging.  Submit speaker proposals through 15 December following the guidelines found here.

Lunchtime Learning: S.H.E. Summit is the flagship conference of S.H.E. GLOBL, the global leadership platform, founded by Claudia Chan, with the mission of achieving global gender equality by 2030. Watch the entire conference, including sessions by TV Commentator and author Gretchen Carlson, JPMorgan Chase Chief Marketing Officer Kristin Lemkau, and the NFL’s First Female Coach Jen Welter.

Coming up next week: Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Generation (13-14 November in Laguna Niguel) kicks off its fourth year and features a top-notch roster of speakers who represent the next generation of business leaders and founders. Having grown over the past decade into one of the most important cloud and infrastructure conferences, Structure 2018 will run 14 -15 November in San Francisco. At Ad Age Next Conference in NYC, the worlds of marketing, media, science and tech converge. (Next is the evolution of Ad Age’s long-running Digital Conference). The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Conference and Expo will be held 15 -18 November in Atlanta. More than 10,000 educators, early childhood specialists, researchers, and consultants attend. And on 16 November in NYC, top publishers, agencies, brands, and technology providers gather at the Brand Safety Summit to tackle the challenges that media and marketing executives face as they create brand safe experiences.

Conference News: What I learned this week – November 3, 2017

What’s NEXT?: MIT Technology Review Emerging Technologies (EmTech) has announced a new event: EmTech Next. According to the organizers, EmTech Next will “examine the rapid changes that AI and robotics are bringing about in the workplace.” The conference debuts at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, MA from 4 -5 June 2018 and plans to touch upon the following topics: Artificial Intelligence and its impact on businesses; The digital factory and 3D printing; Robots as your coworker; How AI will fix medicine; The skill gap myth—or rethinking retraining.

Making the LEAP: Hansonwade, the organization behind the LEAP HR series of events that debuted in the US a couple years ago, will be adding another conference to its line up next month: LEAP HR Construction. LEAP HR forums “provide industry-specific environments to challenge traditional thinking around how to build better companies.” The LEAP HR Construction programme will be developed specifically for HR leaders (VP and above) from construction and engineering firms. More information on this, and the entire LEAP HR series, may be found here.

Relocating to Rotterdam: ASIS International has announced that ASIS Europe –  scheduled from 18 – 20 April 2018 – will now be held in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. The event was previously planned in the nearby city of The Hague on the same dates. The conference organizers felt that the Rotterdam venue was better suited to its new event concept, which includes conference sessions, masterclasses, classroom training, career centre, exhibition, and a dedicated technology and solutions track.

Speaking Opportunity: PromaxBDA is a member association representing more than 10,000 companies and individuals from major media organizations, marketing agencies, research companies, strategic and creative vendors and technology providers around the globe. Next year, their annual conference will take place from 11 – 14 June in New York. If you are interested sharing ideas, techniques, or tools that represent the next generation of the industry, submit your topic proposal online by 1 December.

Lunchtime Learning: Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit was created in 2014 taking inspiration from the Vanity Fair New Establishment list. Staying true to its goal of representing “those figures who are setting the global agenda and leading the Age of Innovation,” this year’s agenda covered a diverse array of topics. Watch speakers such as Judd Apatow explain “Why Flawed Characters are Likable, But Donald Trump Is Not,” director Patty Jenkins talk about the universality of life experiences in film, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on the importance of empathy in business.

Coming up Next Week: An active conference season gets even busier this week. Techonomy kicks off 5 November in Half Moon Bay, centered around the theme “The Convergence of Man and Machine”. Also on 5 November, Rutberg WI Conference (previously called Wireless Influencers) plays out to its closed-door audience of mobile industry leaders in Rancho Palos Verdes. Can’t make it to the West Coast? MIT Technology Review’s EmTech has you covered with some of year’s most significant news on emerging technologies. Conference behemoth Dreamforce runs 6 – 9 November in San Francisco for more than 160k Salesforce customers, partners, and stakeholders. And not to be outdone by its U.S. peers, Web Summit, nicknamed “Davos for geeks” by Bloomberg, is held for a huge international crowd in Lisbon starting 6 November.