8 Great Reasons to Attend IBM Think 2018


Did you know that IBM merged a number of their top conferences—Interconnect, Amplify, World of Watson, Edge, and Connect—into one in 2018?  If you haven’t already heard about it, IBM Think is IBM’s new flagship business and technology conference, taking place March 19–22, 2018 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

It’s a global event where over 40,000 business and technology innovators, leaders, and thinkers will gather in one place to share ideas, discuss topics like Artificial Intelligence, Cloud, Supply Chain, Blockchain, Omnichannel Commerce, Data Analytics, Integration, Security, IoT, and more—and enjoy some exceptional networking, entertainment, and fun along the way.  

While there are many reasons to attendincluding a few mentioned in the video belowyou may be most interested in reading the highlights so that you can make plans quickly (the event is just weeks away). So, as someone who has attended quite a few conferences over the years, I’ll share in this post what I believe are some of the best reasons to attend. These are in no particular order.


1.  Ideas and Inspiration from Some of the World’s Brightest Minds

Many of us are hoping for ideas and inspiration when attending a conference, and the speaker lineup at Think is clearly designed for this. It’s not every day you get to see and hear from some of the world’s most brilliant individuals in-person.

For example, Think will feature:

  • Neil deGrasse Tyson – Astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History and Host of  COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey
  • Michio Kaku – Renowned Physicist, Futurist and Popularizer of Science
  • Geoffrey Moore – Author of Crossing the Chasm, Inside the Tornado, Zone to Win, and more
  • Steve Smith – Associate Director for International Space Station, Science Directorate, Ames Research Center, NASA Astronaut
  • Mae Jemison – Astronaut, Engineer, Physician, Lead, 100 Year Starship, Founder and President, The Jemison Group
  • D.J. Patil – Former U.S. Chief Data Scientist at White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
Neil Degrasse Tyson Michio Kaku geoffrey moore

I’m sure their sessions will be fascinating, entertaining—and perhaps even mind-blowing. Check out the full list of IBM Think speakers

2.  Four Think “Campuses”— All in One Location

IBM Think CampusThis year, IBM has introduced a “Campus” concept, where each campus features Think Tanks, a theater, sessions, demonstrations, networking events, expert talks, innovators, education, food and drink, and more. For attendees, it helps us find the demos, sponsors, sessions, and IBMers all focused on the topics that interest us most in one location. If we choose, we can take a short walk to a different campus—also in the same ballroom—to learn about other topics. No need to grab a taxi, bus or spend 20 minutes walking to get there. While many of us are all about getting our 10,000-plus steps in for the day, I think most attendees will be very happy about this. The four campuses are:

  • Business and Artificial Intelligence (AI) — Learn how to design and deliver business solutions that leverage AI across industries and professions. You’ll learn about modernizing applications and redesigning workflows and processes with AI, automation, IoT, and blockchain. More on this campus later.
  • Cloud and Data — Learn how to gain a unique advantage from data delivered on a cloud built for business. You’ll challenge conventional thinking about how data and cloud are used, and learn how to leverage it to accelerate your business and transform your industry. 
  • Modern Infrastructure — Learn how to engineer the right infrastructure with cloud and AI to support your business.
  • Security and Resiliency — You’ll learn how to evolve your security, business continuity and disaster recovery plans for the future with the power of AI, collaboration, automation, orchestration, and cloud. 

3.  Think Academy: A Year’s Worth of Training in 4 days

I love a good bargain, and this is a great one. Attendees will receive thousands of dollars worth of training, labs, certifications, and expert talks with their full conference pass. They’ll have access to 300+ certifications (with a free exam for every attendee and only $50/exam afterward), product demonstrations, labs, innovation talks, Think Tanks, and more. These include:

  • Scheduled labs (1-2 hour subject matter expert-led labs)
  • Bootcamps (3-4 hour scheduled labs featuring hands-on work with new products and technologies)
  • Open labs (self-paced with subject matter experts)
  • Quick labs (20 minutes to learn something new)
  • Experiential Zone (a place for lunch and learns, games, and additional lab settings)

It’s a great opportunity to fine-tune knowledge and learn something new.  Learn more about Think Academy.  


4. Over 1000 Sessions to Choose From

There is no shortage of interesting content at this event. With over 1000 sessions to choose from, the schedule can seem a bit overwhelming. So, IBM is letting attendees leverage Watson to help build a personalized agenda based on specific interests and needs. Attendees can choose from a wide range of session types including:

  • Client Sessions – Hear from clients and leaders about their experiences leveraging IBM solutions to solve business problems.
  • Keynotes – Hear from IBM leaders, clients, business partners, and thought leaders on some of the biggest challenges facing businesses and society. Plus, attendees will be among the first to get a glimpse into IBM’s strategy for 2018 and the future.
  • Industry Sessions – Explore more than 60 dedicated industry breakout sessions, including expert-led strategy talks.
  • Breakout sessions — Take a deeper dive into a topic, learn about the latest IBM technologies, and hear from business partners and clients about best practices and success stories.

Even with Watson’s help, you’ll probably have a hard time deciding between sessions that are scheduled for the same timeslot. You may want to bring those running shoes if you’re going to try to double-schedule yourself.  Check out the Watson Session Expert

Also, it is important to note that the agenda, sessions, and activities were very much driven by audience input.  In June of 2017, IBM conducted the IBM Think Jam—an interactive brainstorming event that gave IBM clients, attendees and partners a strong voice in developing the conference agenda. Most conference planning processes don’t start with direct input and feedback from such a large audience like this, so it will be refreshing to attend a conference that put audience ideas and interests first. This should be interesting!  Check out the IBM Think curriculum.


5. The Business and AI Campus

While there is great content across the campuses and sessions, we are perhaps the most excited about the Business and AI campus. Sure it sounds very broad and it may be confusing as to what is featured within this campus. It’s focused on “reimagining your business in the era of AI.”  You’ll learn how the IBM Watson Customer Engagement solutions (some of our favorites — Watson Supply Chain and Watson Commerce solutions) can help your business:

  • Empower commerce, supply chain, and marketing professionals with real-time, actionable insights to personalize every customer experience
  • Reduce the cost and complexities of omnichannel order management and order fulfillment
  • Achieve greater visibility and transparency into inventory and supply chain operations
  • Get a 360-degree view of your business to proactively mitigate disruption and risk
  • Drive collaboration and innovation with business partners

If you are in commerce, supply chain, marketing, customer experience, or operations, be sure to check out this campus.  


6. Face-to-Face Networking Fun

While LinkedIn is a nice place for making connections, meeting face-to-face with like-minded folks can be so much better—and fun—even if you’re a bit on the introverted side. Beyond the networking opportunities during meals and throughout the day in the campuses and sessions, there will be a Campus Welcome Reception on Monday night and another Campus Reception on Tuesday evening. It’s a great opportunity to meet with peers and leaders at other companies, develop new friendships, learn what others are doing, and meet new people that can help you professionally and personally, while enjoying some delightful food and beverages. Be sure to bring your business cards! 

Speaking of networking…if you’re there, please be sure to drop by our sponsor booth (#712) to say hello to some of the members of our team—Adam Heeter (our CEO), Chris Halvorson (VP of Solutions), Lori Angalich (that’s me, VP of Marketing), Ian Wells (EMEA Managing Director), and some very talented and knowledgeable associates across our Integration, Order Management, B2B Integration, and Data Analytics practices: Mike Warvel, Bryan Scott, Nupur Marwaha, John Hawkins, Susan Sever, Jay Penmatcha, Dennis Murphy, and more. They’re all very nice people—seriouslyso please don’t be shy.

7.  Three Fantastic Concert Performances at IBM Rocks

While there is quite a bit of entertainment throughout the conference—some planned and some completely unexpected—we’re going to enjoy some great concert performances this year.

Train Chainsmokers Barenaked Ladies

  • Train – (Wednesday night, 7pm-10pm). Train is a multi-GRAMMY award-winning band from San Francisco, CA, that has had 14 songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 list since the release of their debut self-titled album.
  • The Chainsmokers - (Wednesday night, 7pm10pm). The Chainsmokers have evolved into a dominating musical force with a diverse repertoire of songs that have led them to become today's hottest young artist/producer duo.
  • Barenaked Ladies - (Tuesday night, 7:30pm–10pm)  World-renowned rockers BNL have sold over 14 million albums worldwide, won eight Juno awards, and earned multiple GRAMMY nominations in their nearly three decades together.

Some of you (myself included) may have been hoping to catch these bands on tour this year—so here’s a great chance to see them as an additional benefit of attending Think.


8. Access to Executives and Other Leaders That Can Help You Succeed

You may have some great ideas around new features and offerings, burning questions about solutions or services, or feedback you wish to share with IBM executives, managers and/or partners. So many senior executives and managers will be in attendance at Think, and attendees will have the opportunity connect with them through the Campuses, Executive Exchanges, Executive Meeting Center, Innovation Talks, Industry programs, InnerCircle, and more. It’s a rare opportunity to share your ideas and feedback, develop some very helpful new connections, learn information that can make you even better at what you do, and get fresh ideas that you can share with your team back home.


We Hope to See You at Think 2018

There is so much going on at this event it can be difficult to take advantage of all it has to offer. If Think sounds like a great event for you, hopefully this list will help make the planning process a little easier for you. If you were planning to attend, I hope that you learned something new about the event—and that we’ll see you in Vegas!

Lightwell at IBM Think


About the Author

Lori Angalich

Lori Angalich is the VP of Marketing at Lightwell. She loves exploring new technologies and business models, learning how things work, solving problems, and developing new ideas with others. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and an MBA in Marketing, and she enjoys applying her knowledge from both each and every day.  Lori has a passion for travel, art, wine, music, wildlife (including her two dogs, who are a bit on the "wild side"), and most of all, creating great memories with her family. 

Connect with Lori on LinkedIn