Top virtual tech conferences to attend in 2020

Many tech conferences are going online this spring, but they’re mostly still working out the details of how and when.

For obvious reasons, nobody is holding in-person tech conferences in the spring of 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has led most conference organizers to postpone or cancel this year’s events, but an enterprising few have decided to transform theirs into an online event.

Below, we catalog the conferences we could find that have done so, but the situation is dynamic. Some vendors that had initially announced virtual conferences have cancelled even those. Check back at the show sites (links below) for updated information.

There have been efforts at online conferences and trade shows for many years, and it’s possible that the extent and power of the Internet and its applications is such that a virtual conference is now a worthwhile endeavor.

The virtual conferences are an opportunity for individuals to attend a show they wouldn’t normally even consider, if only for the travel. There are interesting shows below that had been planned for Europe and Africa. Obviously, the attendee cost is considerably lower and may be only the opportunity cost of other work you might have done instead.

You should not assume that the agenda and speaker list for a virtual event will be the same as that advertised for the physical conference. In many cases, the show organizers are not certain of what the details, or even the dates, will be.

An example can be found in the many Linux Foundation events, which have all posted a “Novel Coronavirus Update.” The update page says that they are monitoring the situation and may cancel, in which case, they will issue full refunds to attendees and sponsors and may proceed with a virtual event.

We are all discovering the practical limits of virtual meetings these days, and virtual conferences are a natural extension of the same technology. It might work. We’ll find out soon.


Twitter: @LFAI_Foundation


Date: April 9, 2020, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. PT (via Zoom)

LF AI is “an umbrella foundation of the Linux Foundation that supports open source innovation in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning.” The LF AI Day event will cover ONNX (Open Neural Network Exchange) community updates, partner and end-user stories, and SIG/WG updates.

ODSC East 2020 – Open Data Science Conference

Twitter: @odsc


Dates: April 14-17, 2020

This conference is all about the data science community rather than any given industry or topic. Here, the data science community gathers for in-person networking and to learn from one another. And that community is quite large. This is one of the largest applied data science conferences in the world.

Because the event focuses on data science for a community that works in data science, the focus areas, topics, and tool discussions are very technical and of interest to both open source and open science communities. Speakers are often of the living-legend ilk. For example, one of the many notable speakers is Kirk Borne, who is a former astrophysicist at NASA and professor of astrophysics and computational science at George Mason University and currently principal data scientist at Booz Allen Hamilton.

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Simmons Leadership Conference

Twitter: @SimmonsLeads


Date: April 16, 2020

The 41st annual Simmons Leadership Conference is the leading one-day leadership program for women. The goal is to motivate, educate, and empower women in leadership roles, whether they are just starting their careers or have years of experience. The program includes featured presentations, with prominent speakers, including tennis champion Serena Williams, and skill-building workshops.

Bit by Bit: Breaking the Barrier for Girls in Tech 2020 Conference

Twitter: @bit_by_bit_nyc


Date: April 18, 2020

Bit by Bit is a conference for high school girls, devoted to bringing together girls interested in computer science. The organizers believe that by gathering successful women with experiences to share, they can help female coders, entrepreneurs, and leaders of the future better prepare to work in an industry in which women are underrepresented.


Twitter: @IoT_DI


Date: April 21-24, 2020

The ACM/IEEE International Conference on Internet of Things Design and Implementation (IoTDI) is a premier venue on IoT. To reflect the interconnection of IoT with both cloud computing and cyber-physical systems, IoTDI is colocated with IC2E and also part of CPS-IoT Week for 2020.

International Conference on Learning Representations

Twitter: @iclr_conf


Dates: April 26-30, 2020

Launched in 2013, the International Conference on Learning Representations, or ICLR, is a machine learning conference held every spring. This is a serious conference, widely known as the top conference for researchers focused on representation learning, which basically is what people mean when they refer to deep learning.

One researcher notes that his machine learning research wouldn’t go anywhere without learning representation. It’s how a system can translate sets of training images so it can learn to tell the difference between a fish and a child swimming.

Drawing researchers from academia and industry, entrepreneurs, engineers, and graduate students, the conference is focused on cutting-edge research on all aspects of deep learning used in the fields of artificial intelligence, statistics, and data science, as well as important application areas such as machine vision, computational biology, speech recognition, text understanding, gaming, and robotics.

Out of 1,591 paper submissions for the 2019 conference, 24 were invited to make oral presentations of their work.

Red Hat Summit 2020

Twitter: @RedHatSummit


Dates: April 28-29, 2020

Does your company use Red Hat Enterprise Linux? How about Fedora or CentOS? Hybrid cloud, automation, cloud-native development, or OpenShift? If you answered yes to any of those, Red Hat Summit is a must. Besides getting the latest news about Red Hat products and services, the conference is a convenient way to get Red Hat training for its many certifications, such as performance tuning, implementation of microservices architectures with Java EE, and OpenStack administration. There are also many lectures and interactive opportunities with subject-matter experts.

IBM Think

Twitter: @ibmlive


Dates: May 5-6, 2020

Although primarily aimed at the CIO level and above, Think includes lots of educational opportunities for sysadmins and DevOps, with tracks devoted to cloud, blockchain, supply chain, infrastructure, security, mobile, and data and AI.

Leadercast 2020 – Positive Disruption

Twitter: @Leadercast


Date: May 7, 2020

Learn to bring disruptive changes that inspire innovation to your organization. Hear from a variety of speakers, led by Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

2020 OCP Global Summit

Twitter: @OpenComputePrj


Dates: May 12-15, 2020

The organizers plan to provide a full conference-like experience, with keynotes, executive tracks, a show floor with exhibits and talks, engineering workshops, and more.

Microsoft Business Applications Summit

Twitter: @MSFT_Business


Dates: May 6-7, 2020

The summit brings together a “community of power users and business decision-makers in a new digital format to learn, connect, and grow.”

SAP SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference



Date: Check back

2020 SAPPHIRE NOW and the ASUG (American SAP User Group) Annual Conference are the key events for SAP-based enterprises to connect with others and learn the latest in the world of SAP. They were scheduled to colocate but will both now be virtual.

MIT Sloan CIO Symposium

Twitter: @mitcio


Date: May 19, 2020

This event brings together IT executives from around the world with leading faculty of the MIT Sloan School of Management. The organizers promise that at least some of the conference will proceed online and be delivered on the scheduled date.

Microsoft Build

Twitter: @msdev


Dates: May 19-21, 2020

Build is Microsoft’s annual developer conference, covering the vast repertoire of development opportunities for Microsoft products. The plan now is to present it as a digital event on the same dates.

Cisco Live

Twitter: @CiscoLive


Dates: June 2-3, 2020

Cisco Live is the premier event for Cisco customers and partners, offering a variety of talks and training. Originally planned as a five-day event, it will now be a two-day digital event, still including interactive sessions with Cisco experts.

Apple WWDC

Twitter: @apple


Date: Summer 2020

The World-Wide Developer Conference is a major annual event, with big product announcements, appearances by Apple executives and engineers, and early access to new Apple technology.

LiveWorx 2020

Twitter: @LiveWorx


Date: June 9, 2020

A major event focused on industrial digital transformation, with content on augmented reality, IIoT, robotics, and more. Planned as a four-day event, it will instead be a one-day virtual event.


Twitter: @circlecitycon


Dates: June 12-14, 2020

CircleCityCon tries to be the fun and affordable hacker conference. The themes are fun, and there are hacker game shows to watch and participate in. This year’s theme, fittingly, is “apocalypse.”

Training is free, and you can reserve a spot for a modest fee. Past classes included Wi-Fi exploits, threat hunting with ELK, social engineering, persuasive communication skills, Splunk, Cuckoo sandboxing, exploit development, memory forensics, and client-side attacks.


Twitter: @CollisionHQ


Dates: June 22-25, 2020

Collision is a tech conference with a broad scope and an emphasis on thought leadership. You’ll find VCs, entrepreneurs, activists, journalists, and who knows what else. Rebranded Collision from Home, the show is still scheduled for four days.

International Conference on Machine Learning

Twitter: @icmlconf


Dates: July 12-18, 2020

As its name makes clear, this 37th annual conference is all about machine learning. It was originally planned for Vienna but will now take place on the Internet instead.

The show is geared to look at all aspects of the field, such as artificial intelligence, statistics, and data science, as well as important application areas such as machine vision, computational biology, speech recognition, and robotics.

“I think this is one of the top conferences for researchers working on machine learning,” says Sergey Serebryakov, a research engineer at Hewlett Packard Labs. “They cover a broad range of topics and have a nice mix of theory and practice.”

Stefano Ermon, an assistant professor of computer science at Stanford University and a founder of Atlas AI, called ICML a “top academic conference for machine learning research.”



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