Leaning into AI a smart choice for Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit organizers

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 949 views 

The Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit will have multiple programming areas for this year’s fall conference attendees. Not surprisingly, artificial intelligence (AI)/automation is one of them.

According to a Deloitte study, over 50% of organizations plan to use AI and automation technologies this year. Other high-achieving organizations are adopting new tech-savvy operational processes despite concerns about AI usage.

To piggyback on the popularity, summit organizers thought additional programming to discuss AI throughout the year might be beneficial. They launched a series of information events to discuss AI and learn how it transforms businesses and organizations.

Kris Adams is the director of the tech summit, which had about 1,700 attendees registered last year from 28 states.

“Early on in January, when we settled on AI and automation as one of our programming tracks for 2023, we thought this was something we should do outside of the tech summit,” Adams said. “We thought this might be the right time and spot to build that community and lead into the content we will have at the main conference in the fall.”

The inaugural AI Series event on April 27 drew more than 175 attendees. During the presentation, the topic was Generative AI, a type of AI that can create various data, including images, videos, audio and text.

“It was a huge response that confirmed this was something the community wanted to see,” Adams said.

Adams uses the word “community” intentionally.

Kris Adams

“It’s one of the taglines we are running with this year,” he said. “The Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit is more than just a conference. We are actively trying to build a tech community in Northwest Arkansas. We want to see technology not just living and working here but growing and staying here so that Northwest Arkansas really begins to gain a reputation. It has already, somewhat, but we want that to strengthen.”

Adams hopes to have at least three gatherings to discuss AI. The second installment is Thursday (June 1) from 5 to 7 p.m. at Bentonville Community Church. Security and privacy concerns related to AI is the topic. There’s more information, including how to register, at this link.

This year’s Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit will convene Oct. 29-Nov. 1 at the Rogers Convention Center and multiple sites throughout downtown Bentonville.

“We’ve outgrown the capacity to be a multisite event in downtown Bentonville,” said Adams, who was hired as the summit director in March 2022. “We’ll have our programming at the Rogers Convention Center, and our afterhours social and networking will be in Bentonville.”

Adams said this year’s theme is “Year of the Machine.” Automation and AI will be a big part of that.

“We want people to be able to touch and see and experience a lot of the technology we talk about,” he said. “We’re hoping to finally capitalize on that now that we are fully in-person again post-COVID. It will be an experiential event where you can try and on and test out some of the technology we’re talking about.”

Adams noted that the summit is open to anyone, unlike other significant Northwest Arkansas events that are private or invitation-only.