This year brings the fourth annual BelTech conference to Northern Ireland, this premier high tech event will take place on the 6-7th of April 2017 at Titanic Belfast. This year’s keynote speakers will include representatives from global technology giants Amazon and Microsoft, in addition to a host of other names confirmed to address delegates.

BelTech aims to be the premier technology event for local software practitioners, business leaders, entrepreneurs and young people aspiring to break into the industry. The event also fosters the ability for professionals of all backgrounds to engage, connect and share ideas.
The event is curated by Northern Ireland-based digital solutions provider Kainos Software and features influential international speakers from the worlds of software engineering, machine learning, connected systems, immersive tech and cyber security.

Confirmed international speakers include: Ian Massignton, technical evangelist of Amazon Web Services; Ryan Mesches, technical evangelist from Microsoft; Irene Lopez de Vallejo, director of R&D programmes at Digital Catapult; Simon Burbridge, vice-president of engineering from communication technology specialists Openmind; and Dr Suzanne Little, DCU & Croke Park Smart Stadium.
Local speakers so far include Philip McAleese from intelligent bike light makers See.Sense and Austin Tanney of big data specialists Analytics Engines.

During the two-day conference, speakers will interact with attendees at a series of workshops and keynote presentations, while 400 post-primary students will have the opportunity to attend inspirational sessions about sustainable digital career paths.

The event highlights the growing interest in digital here in Northern Ireland and global impact of technology in a range of industries. The thought leaders will cover several topics ranging from product design to cloud computing. With AI and machine learning being the key themes of the conference. The event seeks to educate a range of professionals with all thing’s AI, and how AI can transform businesses operating in different industries. Indeed, AI is a growing segment of today’s tech environment, with as many as three quarters of Irish companies believing that AI will have a major impact on their industry in coming years.

In fact, Accenture’s Annual Technology Vison Report highlights that Irish companies believe more so than other countries that AI will revolutionise the way they gain information and interact with customers. A further three quarters of firms surveyed expect AI interfaces to become their primary interface for interacting with the outside world. Tom Gray, Group Chief Technology Officer at Kainos, states “There’s a lot of work going on to position the UK tech sector and a certain amount of agreement that many of the major areas of tech in the years ahead will be supported by developments in artificial intelligence”

Furthermore, the rise of AI is not without challenges with up to 41 per cent of Irish companies expecting some form of compatibility issues to impact the take up of this technology within firms. Other cited concerns with AI include privacy issues, lack of usable data and the newness of this technology. But that won’t stop Irish firms investing in this technology. The focus for investment for Irish firms will be in the capabilities of AI within natural language processing, computer vision, machine learning, deep learning and embedded solutions such as IPsoft’s Ameilia in call centre services or IBM’s Watson embedded in healthcare diagnostics.

The research from Accenture also shows that Irish organisations are racing to keep up with advances in technology, with one in five surveyed saying their industry is facing major disruption over the next three years. It’s highly likely that AI will be a major disruption in coming years, Tom Gray at Kainos believes “that advances in Artificial Intelligence are likely to alter the jobs market, making some jobs obsolete and creating a demand for new skills”. BelTech’s goal is to discuss these issues further and provide a platform to better understand emerging trends such as AI and machine learning throughout the two days.

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