The 2021 IoT Online Conference

Jacob BeningoNovember 9, 2021

The IoT Online Conference is back, and this time the core focus is on IoT embedded systems and edge computing. This post will explore what will be happening at this year’s conference and how teams and developers can benefit.

The IoT Online Conference Overview

The IoT Online Conference will be taking place December 8 – 10, 2021. This is the conferences’ fourth year, although it started as a fall embedded systems conference which was a single day of webinars. The idea behind the conference is that it gives embedded developers worldwide the opportunity to interact, grow their skills, and access industry experts without having to break the bank or travel.

The conference this year will contain approximately 20 talks giving attendees knowledge in areas such as blockchain, real-time systems, embedded machine learning, cloud development, and much more. A quick summary of the current talks can be seen in the image below or at the IoT Online Conference website.

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IoT Online Conference

Benefit to Attendees

The core purpose of the IoT Online Conference is to help attendees enhance their embedded system and IoT product development skills. When we put together the curriculum, we look for experts in their field who can deliver high-quality content with minimal “marketing” content. The goal is to provide ideas, concepts, and skills that attendees can immediately take back to the office and act upon.

One of the problems that initially led to the creation of the Embedded Online Conference and the IoT Online Conference was the realization that many teams and developers don’t have the option to attend a conference. Obviously, with COVID, nobody had the opportunity, which just made things worse. Conferences provide a forum for attendees to network and learn new skills and techniques from other developers.

Engineering, especially embedded systems, is changing at a neck-break pace.  I’ve found that I’m irrelevant within two years if I am not personally updating my skillsets! Sure, there are some techniques I still use from a decade ago, but 80% of what I’m doing today didn’t exist two years ago! If you aren’t updating your skills, you won’t be efficient. You’ll spend more time developing and debugging. You’ll spend more money to do the same thing that other teams are doing.

If I had to create a list of benefits for attending the IoT Online Conference or the Embedded Online Conference, for that matter, I think my list would look something like the following:

  • Access to industry experts from around the world
  • Ability to ask questions to experts and colleagues
  • On-demand, high-quality technical content
  • Instant Access to all sessions from the previous conference
  • Technical examples and workshops
  • No need to travel
  • 10% the cost of an in-person conference
  • Minimal “marketing” talks
  • Immediately usable techniques and concepts
  • Ability to watch the sessions at higher speeds (Consume the content in less time)
  • Supporting an event organized by engineers for engineers

I’m probably missing a bunch there, but I don’t want to write a blog that is a giant list! So I think you probably get the idea. (If you do have other ideas, though, or have other benefits from attending in the past, feel free to leave a comment at the end for your colleagues and fellow readers!).

The IoT Online Conference Cost / Value Ratio

For a lot of engineers and teams, attending a conference is an investment. It’s an investment in personal skills and a company’s employees. It’s an investment, though, that needs to be done to keep one’s skillset relevant and sharp. A small investment to attend the IoT Online Conference can quickly pay for itself 100x or 1000x over! Don’t believe me? Let’s look at an example.

The IoT Online Conference all-access pass is $90. An engineer paying out of pocket, which makes $84,600 a year, would take 2 hours to pay for the conference pass. For a business, it’s not even a second thought. The cost is the same as asking to purchase an engineering book. There’s no way an employer will say no! (When I was employed, I spent $8,000 a year on continuing education like conferences, workshops, training, etc. The employers never blinked about the cost! Today, I spend at least twice that amount!).

Now, paying the worst-case $90 to attend the conference, all I need to do is find one new technique that will save me 2 hours during the rest of my career to make my money back. If I find a new approach that will save me 80 hours a year, I’ve just received a return on investment of 40x in the first year! If I can now save that time consistently for the next five years, I’ve returned 200x!

With all the talks and expert speakers sharing their knowledge at the conference, I imagine the potential ROI is nearly unlimited. For example, attending James Grenning’s workshop on TDD could, over time, allow a team to save person-months of effort every year. Learning how to debug and monitor a device could save hundreds of hours per developer each year. Learning about CI/CD and how to set up your development environment could improve the quality and robustness of your products. I honestly think quantifying the ROI for the IoT Online Conference is problematic because it is like dividing 1 / 0; it’s not undefined but infinite!

The IoT Online Conference versus In-Person Conferences

I think it’s worthwhile to take a different perspective and compare the IoT Online Conference to an in-person conference. A typical in-person conference is relatively expensive for someone to attend. A typical conference requires:

  • A flight ( $200 – $1,000 depending on the details)
  • Hotel room ( ~$150 a night for 2 – 4 nights)
  • Cabs, rental cars, etc ( ~$50 – $350 total)
  • Meal expenses ($50 – $400)
  • Conference Pass ( $1000 – $1500 depending on the conference)

On the cheap end, the cost to attend a conference can be $1,800. On the expensive side, it can be $3,500+. (When I attend Embedded World, it’s easily $2500. The Embedded Systems Conference was around $1,500. Of course, that doesn’t include the conference passes for those conferences either!).

Those are just the financial costs. When someone leaves for a conference, this also means that there will be non-tangibles like:

  • Limited employer access to the attendee during the conference
  • Wear and tear on the attendee due to travel
  • Missing a session at the conference means you can never watch that talk

It’s easy to see that attending can be expensive, although I argue that it is worth it. The problem, though, is that many teams and developers cannot get away from the office. The cause can be either financial or due to intangibles like a hot project. This is where online conferences focused on engineers and not marketing or maximizing sales can dramatically benefit the industry.

IoT Online Conference Conclusion

The IoT Online Conference this year, 2021, is gearing up to be a fun and exciting event. There are approximately 20 sessions and workshops from industry leaders ready to share their experiences and expertise. As a result, attendees this year will have access to this year’s content on-demand and last year’s as well. The potential to transform your skills and knowledge is nearly limitless; if you attend and carefully identify action items to take back to the office. Sometimes just the smallest adjustments can have dramatic impacts.

I hope you and your colleagues will consider joining us in December for the IoT Online Conference.

Registering for the conference is only $90! And if you help us with spreading the word by sharing this post on Linkedin or this post on Twitter, please feel free to use promo code THANKYOU and save 50% on the registration fee!

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