Why Interconnect Should Be On Your List of Developer Events to Attend in 2017

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If you have never been to IBM’s Interconnect, you might be wondering “With all of the other conferences and events focused on developers and technical topics, what makes Interconnect different?” Well, let me share some of my experiences so you can see for yourself why it is worth attending.

Interconnect is IBM’s premier cloud and technology conference. And while it offers really good content for line of business and executive attendees, there is also a lot for developed for developers and technical teams.  For me, one of the biggest reasons to attend an event is the opportunity to meet, learn from and collaborate with other smart and talented people. And Interconnect delivers that with interactive sessions, offered in a number of different formats. And these cover everything from cloud and open source, to mobile and IoT, to cognitive and blockchain.

But while great content is important, if you can’t access the speakers, then you lose half of the value of the event. That is where Interconnect offers the most value.

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Get real access to SMEs and developers building next gen tech at Interconnect.

At Interconnect, you get access to SMEs and technical experts from across disciplines, platforms and communities. So you can meet, learn from and collaborate with them. And these are not just people representing products and services. These are technical experts from IBM Research, community leaders working in the Node Foundation, Cloud Foundry contributors, and developers building out the next generation of cognitive services, AI and machine learning.

I always learn something when I get a chance to hear Erin Schnabel speak on microservices.  David Taieb always has something new to share  on Spark analytics. And then there is Ram Vennam. A developer advocate and Java developer, he can show you how to take a monolithic Java app, modernize it and convert it into an API so that you can further monetize it.

These developers and inventors and technologists speak all over the world at conferences such as JavaOne, Oscon and other events. But Interconnect is one of the few places where you get to see them altogether. And get the kind of access all week, which is almost never possible.

One of those people and good friend of mine is Joshua Carr. Joshua is a developer, gamer, musician and expert on gaming and IoT. And since he is based in the UK, Interconnect is one of the rare times we get to hang out. Joshua is either working on something cool or has an interesting perspective to share. I asked him why he enjoys attending Interconnect and as usual he had some really good thoughts.

“As a developer, one the best things about Interconnect is getting the ability peak on ‘both sides of the curtain. I’m able to get hands-on with technology and  ask technical experts pretty much anything. And I get to hear what IBM developers from around the world are working on in the Dev Zone. But because Interconnect has brings together some of IBM’s biggest clients, I get to see, and aspire to create some of the new groundbreaking technology. But I also get to hear from the business leaders on how they’re empowering their developers with DevOps. And see how some of the worlds’ biggest companies are transforming and shaping the future.”

It was only a year or so ago when Joshua was teaching me how to move a Sphero BB-8 droid with my mind using an Emotiv Insight headset. He did that live onstage last year and I remember the lines of people waiting to try it for themselves afterward in the expo hall. We had some great discussions about using data and analytics to improve IoT apps.

If you have never had the experience or seen the Joshua give this demo, the video above give you a good overview. You can also build it yourself using this tutorial. And that is what is so great about Interconnect. You will see really cool and innovative things which you can then take, build yourself on Bluemix and make your own. The ideas, code and experts are all accessible.

The concourse and expo area is where I spend a lot of time meeting with peers, playing with new and emerging tech, such as bots and blockchain. And learning something new. Last year, my focus was on learning about how to code in Swift. There were some really good quick labs that got me started and hooked.

Then there is the Dev Zone. A lounge in the concourse and expo, the DevZone is a dedicated area for developers and technical staff. This is my favorite place to spend time. It always has the best demos, tons of hands-on labs and some of the best food and beverages at the conference. So as you can imagine, this is always one of the most popular features for developers.

And this year, I understand they will be bringing in the Cognitive Beer Tasting experience! If you enjoy good beer, and want to better understand your taste and palette, this experience is for you. Using the Watson Data Platform, they have built an app to help you to better understand your preferences. And using that, recommend other beverages you might enjoy. But while it is fun and certainly thirst-quenching, the tech behind it and the SMEs who built it are the real stars. If you are interested in analytics and machine learning, then you need to check this out.

But there is a lot more to see and do in the Dev Zone. Between the Ask Me Anything Stations, the Hello World Labs, and the demos … You are bound to find something new and interesting to play with. And there are fun coding competitions and games such as CodeRally and Game On. But be careful, they care addictive!

I could go on and on about how much fun I have had and how much I have learned attending Interconnect. But you really have to attend and see for yourself. If you have attended and have some good memories to share, please comment below. Otherwise, I hope to see you there. Come introduce yourself. I’ll be happy to help you find the right people, experiences and sessions to make your week worthwhile.

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