Flower wreaths, fog machine and soap bubbles: The Data Festival had nothing to do with a normal conference – certainly not in the tech sector. More than 450 participants from 16 nations came together in Munich to network with each other and to exchange ideas and learn more about data science, machine learning, blockchain and data visualization.
Participants from Australia, Brazil, Japan and many other countries were amazed when the countdown to the three-day tech conference “Data Festival” started accompanied by strobo lights and loud electro music. Loud murmurs went through the room and right from the start it was clear: There are completely different vibes here than at standard conferences. The mission of the Data Festival is: Germany must catch up when it comes to Artificial Intelligence. While there were 250 participants in 2018, this year over 450 participants registered from all parts of the world. To cater to the international audience, almost all presentations were held in English. Over 130 companies from twelve industries were represented. “Proof that AI has long since ceased to play a role only in the automotive industry and now reaches nearly every industry,” said Alexander Thamm, managing director of Data Festival GmbH and Alexander Thamm GmbH. The event was created by the independent consulting and analyst firm BARC and the data science and AI consultancy Alexander Thamm GmbH and was held for the first time in Munich in April 2018.
German companies are lagging behind when it comes to data science. Julia Butter from Scout24 AG puts it in a nutshell in her presentation: “AI is like teenage sex. Everyone talks about it, very few do it, and those that do wonder if they’re doing it right.” Dr. Carsten Bange, founder and CEO of BARC emphasizes, “German companies can only improve if people talk to each other more. About successful approaches, but also about problems, and obstacles.” To learn from mistakes and enable an honest exchange for data and AI experts, the event ended with the so-called Fuckup Sessions. User companies such as Continental, BASF and Telefónica drew blank and spoke very honestly about failed projects. An important difference to other conferences, whose goals are more advertising effects instead of building a community.