Virtual ODSC East Builds on Last Year’s Momentum


As was the case last year, rather than seeing an endless string of traditional webinar talks, the virtual ODSC East conference put the attendee into an online version of a normal conference environment.

For the second year in a row, Open Data Science Conference (ODSC) East was a must-attend virtual gathering for data scientists. ODSC organizers rightfully noted that while many people are getting burnt out by virtual meetings, developments in the industry dictate that practitioners keep pace with the changes and innovations of the last year.

As such, this year’s conference heavily focused on virtual training. “The field of data science continues to expand, and the demand for individuals with expertise in data, machine learning, and deep learning will continue to grow,” said the conference organizers. The conference featured all the same things you’d get at an in-person event, including training, networking, career advice, and more.

Quality is the differentiator

Everyone has been inundated with virtual event invitations over the last year. What sets ODSC East apart is the quality of the quality and diversity of the delivered content.

Topics ranged from Deep and Machine Learning to business applications and case studies. The sessions and lectures were designed to cover the spectrum of expertise attendees brought into the conference. There was content for beginners to advanced.

A good example of the high-quality nature of the conference’s content was a session about enterprise AI obstacles and how to overcome them by Mark Weber, Applied Research Scientist at the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab. In his talk, he noted there is a need for talented people. He also noted that the issue is not just finding people with the right skills but assembling a diverse team that can work together to make an AI effort a success.

There were many other sessions with distinguished speakers covering deep-ranging industry issues. All told, there were 80 training sessions and workshops. That included over 300 hours of original material. Focus areas included ML and DL, NLP, research frontiers, data science kick-start, ML for programmers, data visualization, and MLOps and data engineering.

In conjunction with the conference, the organizers held the AI X Summit, which had 10 tracks, 60 solution partners, 70 business sessions, and 2000 companies represented. The summit included tracks covering finance, healthcare, energy, biotech and pharma, retail, climate, manufacturing, marketing, autonomous machines, and cyber fraud.

Immersive experience

As was the case last year, rather than see an endless string of traditional webinar talks, the virtual ODSC East conference put the attendee into a normal conference environment.

As attendees entered the ODSC East virtual conference, they were placed in a virtual convention center lobby. That lobby had an information booth and doors to enter an exhibit hall, a career hall, a training hall, and an auditorium where the keynotes and session talks occurred. There also was a lounge for participants to network.

The exhibit hall was similar to what an attendee would encounter in an in-person event. Every vendor had a booth where they could run a product demo, hand out literature, and conduct a chat with a technical person on hand for the conference. 

Cloning ODSC East success to other conferences

As more people worldwide get vaccinated, and countries emerge from the impact of the pandemic, there will still need to be virtual conferences for the time being.

ODSC will take its virtual conference on the road (in a manner of speaking). Future events include:

And ODCS West 2021 San Francisco is planned as a hybrid virtual and in-person event.

Salvatore Salamone

About Salvatore Salamone

Salvatore Salamone is a physicist by training who has been writing about science and information technology for more than 30 years. During that time, he has been a senior or executive editor at many industry-leading publications including High Technology, Network World, Byte Magazine, Data Communications, LAN Times, InternetWeek, Bio-IT World, and Lightwave, The Journal of Fiber Optics. He also is the author of three business technology books.

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