I’m looking forward to UKOUG TechFest in Brighton this year. I’ll get the inevitable ‘it seems only five minutes ago we were all in Liverpool’ out the way early, and save reminiscing on an excellent 2019 to date for when I see you all in December. 

For now, I’d like to focus on looking ahead to a packed programme with some brilliant talks lined up. I’ll be attending on Monday and Tuesday this year, and this is the first of my two preview pieces. As ever, if anyone else is struggling with the same clashes as I am do let me know and we can arrange to attend a talk each and then swap notes over a coffee afterwards.

My first clash in fact happens straight away with the 9am slot on Monday morning. I’m drawn to three talks from Oracle employees, including ‘Streamline your Digital Workforce with Process automation and Robotic Process Automation’  hosted by Niall Commiskey; ‘Building a Better User Experience for Conversational Interfaces’  by Grant Ronald; and ‘Picking a Good Wine for <$20 Using Oracle Autonomous, Machine Learning, and Analytics Cloud’  by Charles Berger.

After the Community Keynote (full details to follow), my next clash is at 11am as I need to choose between ‘Chatbots Best Practices and Design Patterns’  (Ruben Rodrigues, Avanttic); ‘Developing “Predictive” Applications Using Oracle Machine Learning’  (Charles Berger, Oracle); and ‘Game of Fraud Detection with SQL and Machine Learning’  (Abigail Giles-Haigh, Vertice). Abigail is one of the best speakers on the Oracle scene, with an uncanny ability to explain the real-world impact of the technology she is presenting on, whilst offering technical insights to help even the most advanced developer or architect.

Those of you who read my review of the UKOUG Analytics Modernisation Summit will remember my enthusiasm for Duncan Fitter (Oracle) presenting on Oracle’s work with the World Bee Project, and I’m delighted to see the Development Community Keynote at 12 noon will include a Bee Project Update, hosted by Andy Clark (Oracle) and sponsored by Gospel Technology.

At 1:45pm I’ll be heading to ‘Machine Learning – How Data Scientists Improve Their Accuracy’  by Anthony Heljula (Peak Indicators) – Anthony’s talks are always insightful and offer much to learn for beginners and experts alike – one not to be missed, especially given the fundamental adage ‘Data Science is only as accurate as the Data it uses’. From here I’ll head at 2:45pm to ‘Data, The Missing Ingredient’  presented by Jon Mead (Rittman Mead). Jon’s talk will explore “what is meant by data management, data engineering and data governance, how they should be addressed across a wide range of projects from traditional data warehousing delivery to big data and machine learning projects”, and I expect it to lead on nicely from Anthony’s talk earlier in the afternoon.

I’m looking forward to the 3:45pm talk ‘When Machine Learning Meets Graph Databases’  (Gianni Cersa, DATAlysis) before another clash at the end of the day in the 4:45pm slot. I’ll be attending ‘React Vs Oracle JET for Modern Front-End Development’  by Mark Waite (Griffiths Waite) and would encourage anyone interested in this technology to follow my lead. Marked also as a 'Student Introduction Session' I would definitely recommend this talk for any students considering a career in the industry as Griffiths Waite’s graduate programme is one of the most successful I have encountered. I am also interested in, and would be happy to swap notes on, ‘Blockchain in Action: Voting for Elections’  (Lonneke Dikmans – eProseed) and ‘Data Visualization – Maps for Everyone’  (Albert Godfrind, Oracle)

To end the evening I’ll be enjoying Rittman Mead’s hospitality (it would be rude not to) as they throw a party to celebrate TechFest being held in their hometown of Brighton – follow the link to signup free of charge and I’ll be sure to see you there!