For the past several years I’ve been fortunate to be able to attend many banking and fintech related conferences. One of the drawbacks to going back to these conferences has been that they all tend to cover the same ground year in and year out. Last year, I began to venture outside the comforts of these conferences and attended a technology conference targeting Chief Information Officers and those that work for them. While most attendees were in financial services, there was a smattering of people from other industries. Obviously, this conference was significantly different in scope to a banking conference. At the end, I learned more from that day and a half conference that the preceding four multi-day banking conferences. The positive did come with a negative. At banking and fintech conferences I’m always very comfortable. At a technology conference, I wasn’t always sure what they were talking about. I’m a banker that loves tech, and not a technologist in banking. The difference can be important.
With a new year, I looked to once again challenge myself. I’ve been fortunate to be invited by IBM to attend their Think 2019 conference in San Francisco, February 12 to 15. I expect that the biggest highlights will be hearing directly from Ginni Rometty, IBM’s Chairman and President, Joe Montana, the greatest quarterback of all time (Patriots fans don’t comment and embarrass yourselves), the legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk, and Tiffany Pham, Founder & CEO of Mogul, among others.
The conference has over 1,000 sessions. IBM encourages attendees to build their own agenda beforehand. Generally, I attend session on the fly, so I chuckled at the idea until I tried to build my own. There are so many concurrent sessions covering all kinds of technologies that it took me well over an hour to come up with a draft. For a while I was tempted to go as esoteric as possible, but I did come to my senses. While I’m still tweaking the agenda, I’m focusing on sessions that have to do with technologies being adopted in financial services such as APIs, blockchain, AI, machine learning, RPA, and cloud. I was pleased to find several use cases from financial services firms like Lloyd’s ING, RBS, Fifth Third, Morgan Stanley, Westpac, and Société Générale. I plan to sit in sessions about quantum computing, which is as esoteric as I’m allowing myself to get.