Despite the grumpy headlines coming out of the Consumer Electronics Show this year, it’s easy to get excited about the prospect of hitting Vegas and checking out all the hip, new gadgets, along with the occasional useful new piece of business technology.

For those of us who do tech for a living, there are, of course, a world of more focused and vertical-specific trade shows and conferences that are a little easier to rationalize in the expense budget. If you are considering attending a conference or two in 2012, here are some candidates where you can share ideas with peers and get courted by tech vendors. Oh yeah, there probably will be some neat chachkes, too.

We’ve broken the shows out by category, for review by your team. We’ve included only shows occurring in the United States, and some obvious candidates (such as Gartner’s Symposium/ITXPO) have yet to set their 2012 dates and locations. And, of course, this is only a small sampling of what continues to be a lucrative trade show industry. If you know of or are involved with a show you think would be useful to your peers, please add basic information and a link to the show’s site in the comments section of this post.


SANS Security East

Jan. 17-26, New Orleans

A wide range of SANS Institute training programs are available in the Crescent City, ranging from Intrusion Detection to locking down virtualized environments. There’s also a “boot camp” if you have team members who need an overall refresher course.

SecureWorld Expo

10 Regional Sites in the U.S; two-day events in the Spring and Fall

This show promotes itself as being “at the intersection of Information Security, Physical Security, Compliance, IT Audit, Computer Forensics, Enterprise Risk Management, Business Continuity and Security Management.” The focus is at the managerial and policy level, but the full range of security issues is covered.

Technology and Security Conference

February 14-16, Las Vegas

Tailored specifically for the federal credit union sector, this show obviously will take data security measures and operational lockdown more serious than most.

IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy

May 20-23, San Francisco

The 33rd installment of this “flagship” conference promises once again to be about as serious as you can get about security. Much more about research papers and engineering updates than vendor pitches, this is a no-nonsense conference.

Business Design and Innovation

MicroStrategy World 2012

Jan. 23-26, Miami

Most companies know they must develop strategies around mobile, the Cloud, and Big Data, and this show promises to help you tie these technologies together in an overall game plan.

Cloud Connect

Feb. 13-16, Santa Clara, Calif.

Sept. 10-13, Chicago

“The Cloud” is here to stay, and this show will focus on key issues such as security, ROI, compliance and governance, and the continuing emergence of the “private cloud.”

American Bar Association TECHSHOW

March 29-31, Chicago

Gadgets (such as tablets and mobile tech) tend to be the focus at this event, but other issues such e-Discovery and the legal implications of social media are on the docket as well.

Digital Signage Expo

March 6-9, Las Vegas

This show focuses on retail kiosks, interactive advertising, and other commerce-oriented technology. Breakout sessions will focus on effective digital content strategies.

Small Business Expo

May 10, New York

Nov. 8, Los Angeles

This one-day networking event spans every aspect of small business operations, but, of course, there will be a focus on technology — businesses spend a lot of money on technology, after all. “Innovation,” as always, is the key word.

Networking and Infrastructure

Macworld Expo

Jan 26-28, San Francisco

Apple enthusiasts love to talk Apple, and there’s no better place than the venerable Macworld Expo (re-branded as iWorld). Topics and products range from consumer innovations (which always grab the headlines) to business applications.

IT Expo East

Jan. 31-Feb. 3, Miami

This show will focus primarily on networking issues related to IP-based communications, such as Telepresence, Convergent Billing, Broadband Wireless VoIP, and QoS. Vendors and manufacturers offer seminars as well as peer-group events.

International Wireless Communications Expo

Feb. 20-24, Las Vegas

More than 330 exhibitors are expected on the trade show floor for this established event, most focused on convergent and mobile technologies.

Data Center World

March 18-22, Las Vegas

This show, presented by a professional association of data center managers, focuses on both technological and physical challenge of managing data farms, which just keep on growing.

isQED Symposium 2012

March 19-21, Santa Clara, Calif.

Get hardwired at this leading conference for engineering and design for semi-conductors and other backbone technologies.

iBusiness Expo

March 31-April 1, Denver

This regional show promises a business-centric focus on Apple technology, including round-table discussions with solutions developers and coverage of virtually every business vertical.

Design West

March 26-29, San Jose

An extention of the well-established Embed Systems Conference, this umbrella of various shows will focus on education in a variety of arenas, including embedded hardware and software design, total systems integration, power management, android, and embedded security. There also will be a Black Hat security breakout.

The Green Data Center Conference & Exhibition

March 27-29, Dallas

Efficiency is the catchphrase for the broad range of technologies — from virtualization to cooling systems — that will be discussed at this show.

COMPTEL PLUS Convention & Expo

April 15-18, San Francisco

Oct. 7-10, Dallas

This networking event is targeted for communications companies and their suppliers, with a traditional show floor as well as in-depth seminars and peer groups.

HDI Conference & Expo

April 24-27, Orlando

Tech services providers get highly targeted content in a promised 80 break-out sessions. VPs and analysts are on the suggested attendee list, as well as contact center professionals — the full gamut.


May 6-10, Las Vegas

October 1-5, New York

If it’s tech, it’s probably at Interop. The venerable trade show (this year is the 26th edition) remains largely devoted to serious business tech, and so this year’s menu includes the Cloud, Desktop Virtualization, Enterprise 2.0, and “Future of Work” — whatever that means.

Cisco Live!

June 10-14, San Diego

The networking giant offers a series of educational programs for developers all the way to executives at its annual conference. An IT Management Program promises to focus on the business impact of tech decisions.

Microsoft TechEd

June 11-14, Orlando

Face it — everybody is a Microsoft customer or partner on some level, and TechEd (this year in its 20th edition) is a one-stop bonanza to get informed on what is coming next for the tech behemoth. Sessions range from hands-on labs with new releases to primers on the Microsoft professional certification process.

Enterprise & Business Software

Vendor Shootout for ERP

February 22-23, Miami

Best-of-breed Enterprise Resource Planning vendors will be on hand to present in-depth walk-throughs of their offerings, all in one location.

SuperStrategies 2012

April 24-26, Las Vegas

Auditing wonks, rejoice — this show is just for you. Topics covered will include social media, risk-based audit plans, and, of course, a general discussion of IT governance practices.

Technology Services World Expo

May 7-9, Silicon Valley

This business-to-business show focuses on services relationships in sectors including Knowledge Management and PSA tools to Customer Relationship Management solutions.

SAPPHIRE NOW + ASUG Annual Conference

May 14-16, Orlando

A stalwart of Enterprise Software tradeshows, this year’s SAP event again caters primarily to C-Suite-types who are serious about spending big money on big tech.

California Accounting & Business Show & Conference

June 4-5, Los Angeles

Technology will be one of the leading topics at the largest show for accountants in the Golden State. A free trade show floor is accompanied by a paid conference session.

CRM Evolution

August 13-15, New York

This show, presented by CRM magazine, will focus on the role of social media in Customer Relationship Management, as well as on ways to extend the payback on this sizable investment.

Software & Web Development


Feb. 14-15, Honolulu

As if you needed another reason to attend one of the best Web search marketing and optimization shows, this year it is moving to Hawaii. Social media is obviously high on the agenda, as well as tactics to get on the good side of an increasingly grumpy Google.

Search Marketing Expo – SMX West 2012

Feb. 28-March 1, San Jose, Calif.

The art of getting found in search engines is ever-evolving, and presentations by Google and other leading search providers are just part of the value you’ll find at this show.

Open Source Business Conference

May 21-22, San Francisco

Sessions at this cross-platform conference will include the state of Hadoop, trends in mobile app development and HTML5, and the use of Open Source tools to track and mine unstructured data.


July 16-20, Portland

The O’Reilly developer show is a staple for coders in the leading go-anywhere platform. This year’s agenda has not been set, but it is sure to be packed with serious tech from folks who enjoy that kind of stuff.

Public Sector

FOSE 2012

April 3-5, Washington DC

Focusing on the government IT sector, this event promises “in-depth” workshops on Cybersecurity, the Cloud, Records and Information Management, and Defense Innovations, among other issues.

GSA Training Conference and Expo 2012

May 15-17, San Antonio, Tex.

Government officials who make or influence procurement decisions may be interested in this three-day show, which includes a certified Continuous Learning Point instructional program.

Just Plain Cool

Nano Live USA

March 7-8, Chicago

About as micro-niche as you can get, this show will focus on precision manufacturing technologies down to a microscopic level.

Spacecraft Technology Expo

May 8-10, Los Angeles

Unless you have an incredibly cool job, you probably won’t be able to justify putting this show in your budget, but how cool would it be to attend a conference about launching satellites and space planes?

Intelligent Cities Expo

Oct. 8-10, San Francisco

This global conference will cover a wide range of municipal topics, from mobility to water and waste management. Of course, technology lies at the root of all “smart city” initiatives.