14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014

Taking the time each year to learn, grow and network should be part of your career plan, and tech conferences are a great way to do that. Here is a guide to the hottest tech events of 2014 (as well as a couple to look for in 2015).

Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014

The world of technology is constantly morphing, which makes staying up-to-date in your field a difficult task. IT and tech events, in general, are a great way to stay on top of cutting-edge technology, to learn new skills, as well as interact and share with people who have similar interests and goals. They can help you increase your knowledge, your professional network and your brand. To help you plan your travel, the team at CIO.com has put together this list of the hottest tech events of 2014.

Not seeing your favorite conference here? This list is not all inclusive. We'd love to hear what you think the hottest upcoming IT and tech events are. Please leave your feedback in our Comments section.

Mobile World Congress

This Monday kicked off Mobile World Congress 2014. The conference held each February in Barcelona, Spain ,is one of the largest gatherings of the mobile industry. This year's event showcases the newest in mobile technology from tech giants like Samsung, Lenovo and Acer to name a few. The event boasts 60,000-70,000 attendees from more than 200 different countries.

South by Southwest Interactive

SXSW is the largest festival of its type. It has three main areas of focus, music, film and digital interactive. Held in Austin, Texas, attendees can expect parties, industry speakers and lots of music.

The interactive festival has been going on for 21 years and continues to focus on emerging technology. "SXSW has been taking place since 1987 and is now considered one of the leading technology and social media conferences. Its unique format enables attendees to participate in a mix of panels and workshops, allowing for people interested in music, film and interactive technologies to mingle, collaborate and enjoy the live music scene," says Jason Mayde, CTO of theCOMMSapp, a communications app building solutions company.

CeBIT

CeBit is one of the largest global IT business conferences. Originally started in 1970, this conference has ridden all the roller coasters along with the tech market. Since 1999 CeBit has been sponsored by Deutsche Messe AG. The conference's objective is to provide an overview into the four pillars of the digital industry: information technology, telecommunications, digital media and consumer electronics. Last year's attendance topped 330,000.

SMX West

If your company does business on the Web, then SMX should be on your radar. Today's generation grew up in a world that always had Google. That combined with the fact that most users don't get past the first page of search engine results highlights how important SEO and search engine marketing have become, and it doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon.

SMX is geared towards search engine and Internet marketing professionals. Shows are held on the West Coast and East Coast -- SMX West and SME East, respectively. Editor in Chief Danny Sullivan and the Search Engine Land team work to make this a compelling event that always creates a buzz in the SEO and digital marketing worlds. Topics range from SEO, paid search advertising (PPC), social media marketing, mobile search and other Web marketing topics.

iWorld (Previously MacWorld)

Open to the public, iWorld offers a different feel than other tech conferences. Apple has a loyal fan base, one that loves to get together and show off the different ways they use Apple technology. The event is all about community and the engaging sessions. In 2014, there will be more than 50 tech talks from leaders in their respective fields, and this year's workshops focus mainly on mobile technology. Combine that with more iPhone, iPad and Mac accessories than you've ever seen in one place and it's easy to see why this is a popular event.

Interop

Interop showcases the latest technologies and advancements in mobility, cloud, networking, virtualization, data centers and more. It has been going on for more than 28 years and has seen the IT industry transition time and again. Topics such as BYOD, enterprise mobility, virtualization, security and, of course, the future of IT management are all covered. The key theme, as the name implies, is interoperability, which is why a majority of the solutions and exhibits are based on industry standards, allowing attendees to see interoperability in action.

TechCrunch Disrupt

This newer annual offering from the folks at TechCrunch is aimed at the start-up and venture capital (VC) crowd. The conference focuses on how to best pilot the murky tech startup world and offers startups an opportunity to showcase their wares in front of investors and VCs.

"This conference has a bit of everything: VCs, fascinating entrepreneurs, startup battlefield presentations and a hackathon. It has a great vibe to it," says Jason Mayde, CTO of theCOMMSapp, a communications app building solutions company.

TechEd

Microsoft's TechEd is another top show for IT pros and developers alike. Typically this international conference last three to five days and includes speeches, hands-on sessions, new and updated product presentations, whiteboarding, community meet-ups and networking opportunities. Many of the sessions are streamed or made available for online consumption.

The conference also delivers information and insight into Microsoft's strategies -- important information for all the developers and IT professionals who rely on Microsoft products and tools to get the job done.

Cloud Expo

According to IDC research, revenue for public and private cloud servers will increase at an annual growth rate of 16.6 percent, generating $11 billion in 2016. Is your organization ready for the transition? If you are trying to wrap your arms around the world of cloud computing, this show might be worth attending.

Event organizers are taking a different tack this year by incorporating big data into the show. Cloud and big data solutions as well sessions will be side-by-side at Cloud Expo. Attendees should get a good feeling for what's working in the industry and what's coming next.

CTIA

With some of the biggest names in the industry absent (e.g., Microsoft, Google and Apple), CTIA may not be the same show it used to be, but that said, there is still something great about this show. Smaller companies in the wireless industry flock to show off their newest wares and mobile innovations. This three-day event showcases topics like cybersecurity, carrier products news and updates and next-generation wireless products and networks.

This year promoters have changed the scheduling to correspond with the beginning of the holiday shopping season in order to maximize product launches and compete with the likes of CES.

Gartner Symposium ITExpo

Every year senior IT executives, CIOs and other c-level executives gather in Orlando, Florida, to talk about what's going on in the world of tech and IT. Mobile, cloud, social media, whatever is transforming the digital enterprise will be discussed at the ITExpo. You'll hear all about the Magic Quadrant and the hype cycle as well as get a feel for how other digital organizations are prioritizing their IT resources and spend.

The conference runs for five days and includes analyst sessions, workshops, roundtables and mastermind keynotes all centered upon how to make today's IT more efficient and innovative.

Techweek

TechWeek began in 2011 in Chicago. The goal, according to event organizers was to, "enable the innovation ecosystem in Chicago's emerging tech scene by bringing in entrepreneurs, tech visionaries and thought leaders from around the world for one week."

This start-up-centric conference, like SXSW, offers prequalified startups the opportunity to compete for cash and sponsor-donated gifts. The top five winners in each competition get to pitch a judging panel consisting of select venture capitalists and investors. Of course, all the typical conference items are there: speakers, sessions and workshops. There is also a hiring fair as well as the dev, finance and fashion tech summits.

Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

Founded in 1994, this conference is aimed at the women of technology. The annual four-day event is the largest gathering of women in tech and was founded in the name of Grace Murray Hopper, a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, a computer scientist and a pioneer in the world of programming. The focus is to bring the career interests, research and achievements of women in technology to the forefront.

Dreamforce 2014

Salesforce.com, one of the pioneers in cloud CRM, puts on this annual show that covers all things Salesforce. Starting from humble beginnings, the event has gone from 1,300 attendees to more than 120,000 attendees, this three-day event showcases Salesforce's cloud-based management and operational software.

"I typically attend the Salesforce Dreamforce Conference. The conferences are typically attended by a wide array of top technologists and innovators who always help me learn and help me return to campus with a handful of ideas that make a difference for my school," says Reed A. Sheard, Ed.D., CIO and vice president for college advancement at Westmont College.

CES 2015

Always one of the most-talked about conferences of the year, this industry-only event showcases the hottest electronics and gadgets on the planet. Wearable tech, the newest smartphones and tablets, and celebrity cameos are all there and why it's sometimes referred to as the SuperBowl for geeks.

Unfortunately, you've missed your chance in 2014, but CES 2015 will be here before you know it.

AppsWorld North America 2015

AppsWorld passed us by just recently, but it's definitely one to look at in 2015. The app market continues to grow and most experts expect this trend to continue. The mobile app market is expected to grow by 62 percent this year, according to Gartner.

"...attending this conference gives me the opportunity to find a solution that could enhance my company's platform and to deliver more features to our customers. AppsWorld covers a broad spectrum of apps, from games to business solutions. It's a great way to get CIOs minds really thinking about mobile and how to use mobile to help business processes, "says Jason Mayde, CTO of theCOMMSapp.