From March 19-22, 30,000 business and tech professionals came to Las Vegas with one goal in mind: To attend IBM’s Think 2018 conference.

Here are some of the most exceptional and memorable elements of the week.

Four distinct, high-tech campuses

One of the remarkable things about Think 2018 that helped it stand out from similar conferences is it wasn’t overly specific. IBM’s campus-based concept centered on four themes, which were Modern Infrastructure, Business and AI, Security and Resiliency and Cloud and Data.

The goal was for people to streamline their learning by spending the majority of their conference time on the campus that matched their career goals or interests. Each area included a theater and networking area and opportunities to meet with experts and experience hands-on demonstrations.

Think Academy

By offering thousands of labs and hundreds of professional certifications, the Think Academy was a multi-purpose space made with career development in mind. Each lab had specialized machines and emerging technologies, giving participants chances to test them out and gain hands-on knowledge.

People spending time at the Think Academy could get face time with industry leaders or use one of the study nooks to solidify newly learned concepts. As you can imagine, it was also an excellent informal networking hub.

There was also a part of the Think Academy called the DevZone. There, people could attend 15-minute introductory talks about technologies they found fascinating, whether blockchain, artificial intelligence, virtual reality or something else.

Daily wellness classes

If you thought Think 2018 was solely related to tech and business, that’s not true. While coming up with elements of the conference’s program, the organizers recognized that people tend to have their best experiences while feeling good.

Starting at 6:30 a.m. on each day of the conference, people could set off on an early-morning run with other attendees, head to a yoga session or try kickboxing. These activities lasted for three hours, which made them conclude about an hour after some of Think 2018’s talks started.

However, if people noticed scheduling conflicts preventing them from going to a wellness event and going to the first discussions on their agendas, they could get active in the evenings instead. Evening wellness programs began at 7:30 p.m., making them a fitting way to cap off action-packed days.

Live concerts

Think 2018 made it easy for people to get their money’s worth even in a non-tech-related sense. To keep things interesting and give the conference an unforgettable soundtrack, The Chainsmokers performed. Train and Barenaked Ladies also showed off their musicianship while appealing to people who prefer less-current music that never got boring.

A huge lineup of tech speakers

Some of the people who were on the fence about attending Think 2018 this year probably finalized their decision to go after browsing the speaker biographies.

Individuals could look forward to hearing from Neil deGrasse Tyson, the renowned astrophysicist, or seeing what Lisa Ling, the host of CNN’s This Is Life With Lisa Ling had to say about her experiences while filming the show. Numerous speakers specifically delved into data-related topics, too.

Because so many of those invited to speak were high-profile achievers, it was possible to get once-in-a-lifetime insights several times per day by attending the speakers’ presentations alone. Dr. D.J Patil, the former Chief Data Scientist for the White House, was one of the people on the schedule, as was Wade Davis, who used to play for the NFL and now works as an equality advocate.

Besides these speakers, there were, of course, plenty of other tech specialists on hand to weigh in with their perspectives and potentially shape the viewpoints of the people in the audience.

Conferences are frequently places to get inspired. Think 2018 fit that characteristic with its assortment of speakers that went far beyond tech and business without bypassing those sectors.

If you missed out on this year’s festivities, don’t fret. IBM hasn’t announced pricing, but it has confirmed Think is happening again from February 12-15 in San Francisco.

It’s best to mark your calendars now and start figuring out the logistics that’ll let you experience Think 2019 early next year.

Written by Kayla Mathews, tech journalist and writer. 

Prepared and edited by Andrew Carroll, Journalism MA in DIT. 

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