Highlights From the Biggest Tech Events of 2018 ... So Far

JULY 13TH, 2018
If there is one word, to sum up, the tech scene in 2018, transformative might be the best fit. This year has been dominated by trends with the sort of transcendent promise that demands attention from savvy business leaders and IT experts alike. On that note, here are some highlights from six of the most talked about tech events in the first half of 2018.

1. New Smart Toys at CES (January 9)

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Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP[/caption] Each January, the tech community invades Las Vegas, Nevada for the Consumer Electronics Show. CES 2018 treated more than 180,000 exhibitor personnel, industry professionals, and media members from around the world to over 2.7 million square feet of exhibition space. This vast landscape set the stage for the latest round of innovative consumer-grade technologies. Artificial intelligence was a prominent theme at many events this year, and CES was no exception. Exhibitors like Aladin (Smart Lamp) and Bosch illustrated how AI integration could help smart devices autonomously perform specific tasks as they get to know their users over time better. From the residential space to the sports arena, IoT dominated CES 18 as dozens of connected devices were displayed on the show floor.

2. Data Privacy Demands Attention at Mobile World Congress (February 26)

Mobile World Congress is the biggest conference for the worldwide mobile tech community. The 2018 edition emanated from Barcelona, where over 2,400 exhibitors presented cutting-edge mobile innovations across 120,000 square meters of floor space at the Fira Gran Via Convention Center. As expected, smartphones, tablets, and wearable devices were all the rage, but data protection and compliance also received plenty of attention. The consequences of failing to meet the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance are well documented. In addition to talking penalties and fines, Mobile World Congress took some time to view the widely discussed EU legislation from a different perspective. In one session, IBM Mobile explored some of the business opportunities that can be gleaned from the GDPR. The idea here is that compliance can help organizations improve customer relationships by re-enforcing trust, personalization, and engagement.

3. Startups Stand up at SXSW (March 9-18)

For nearly three decades, Southwest by Southwest (SXSW) has brought patrons from multiple worlds together to partake in great food, music, and next-generation multimedia. From a regional music festival to an annual hot spot for some of the most brilliant minds in creative technologies, SXSW 2018 held true to form as nearly 300,000 people gathered in Austin, Texas for an extravaganza that spanned ten eventful days. Always a draw for emerging trends, the annual SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event set the stage for over 400 guests to discover the latest innovations from tech startups across various sectors. Nanowear took home Best in Show honors for its SimpleSense technology, an undergarment that doubles as a connected health management platform for medical professionals. FutureFuel.io was another Accelerator Pitch Award winner that caught our eye. This Boston-based startup allows companies of all sizes to use its SaaS platform to add student loan repayment and refinancing as an employee benefit to attract top talent. Talk about a competitive edge.

4. Talking IT Security at RSA Conference (April 16)

The RSA Conference is a network of events built around IT security. Founded in 1991 as a small conference for the cryptography community, this event attracts more than 40,000 guests on an annual basis. This year, cybersecurity professionals of varying skill sets dedicated hundreds of sessions, panels, and exhibitions to the emerging trends transforming the digital space. RSA 2018 rolled around during a time when IT is flourishing on multiple fronts, yet arguably in its most vulnerable state. The ever-mounting pressures of competitive business and regulatory compliance is forcing organizations to innovate both quickly and securely. RSA attendees seeking the best way forward left the event with three key takeaways:
  1. More talent: An increasing number of sophisticated attacks has increased the need for knowledgeable IT security professionals who can help organizations stay a step ahead of the threat landscape.
  2. Smarter security: The key to more effective security may not only lie in human expertise but intelligent IT systems as well. One of the most interesting RSA keynote sessions detailed the role AI can play in deploying cognitive security solutions that leverage the combined wits of man and machine to thwart attacks.
  3. Collaboration: AI was also discussed as a solution to creating a level of open collaboration that enables organizations to bolster security by sharing information and learning from one another.

5. The Search King Goes All in on AI at Google I/O (May 8 - 10)

Google holds the I/O developer conference annually in its headquarters of Mountain View, California. The event celebrated its 10th anniversary this past May. Par for the course, chief executives from Google, outlined the company's focus for the remainder of 2018 and beyond. Interestingly, most of its software plans were designed around artificial intelligence. AI is slated to play a significant role in personalizing Google's upcoming mobile operating system, code-named “Android P”. The new OS will tap into AI's machine learning component to automatically change brightness and battery settings based on how an individual uses their device. Additionally, AI will help predict the user's future actions. For instance, if you call your wife every day during your lunch break, your Android device will program itself to recommend calling at that exact time. The official release is scheduled for the fall of 2018, but Android P beta is currently available for testing.

6. Network Optimization Takes Priority at Cisco Live (June 10 - 14)

Cisco Live is one of the longest-running technology events in existence. Founded in 1990 under the name “Networkers,” it has become one of the most highly anticipated conferences for Cisco partners and IT professionals. Cisco Live 2018 brought more than 26,000 attendees to Orlando, Florida to network with industry peers, engage in hands-on training sessions, and discuss the trends shaping the global IT space. Today's IT environment is primarily built on networking equipment that integrates both hardware and software in a single platform. Cisco Live dedicated several sessions that outlined how trends such as software-defined networking (SDN) and NetDevOps can take advantage of this interoperability. Infrastructure coding, the very foundation of NetDevOps, was identified as a fundamental skill that can optimize network efficiencies. Even at the API level, coding has the potential to improve network agility, foster collaboration between applications, and reduce human error through automation. As you can see, 2018 has been quite the busy year on the tech event front. There are plenty more to come, so don't be surprised to see us providing further coverage in a year-end wrap-up.