A first-timer’s experience at AWS re:Invent 2023

Post • 4 min read

Attending AWS re:Invent in Vegas for the first time can be like stepping into a tech wonderland. Our new Head of Partner Marketing Cat Wassall shares her take on the techies, talks and tunes in Sin City.

First impressions of AWS re:Invent

As an AWS re:Invent and Las Vegas first-timer I was completely blown away by the sheer vastness of the event, spread across conference centres in multiple hotels along the iconic Vegas Strip. The size of the expo centre and the cityscape transformed into a vision of tech branding and advertising, was nothing short of impressive.

The event itself was immense. Keynotes like concerts, complete with live music and bands, smoke machines and LED light displays. Numerous tech talks and deep dives. Hands on labs and live demos from AWS and a number of partners and customers.

And oh, there was also a tattoo and piercing area – a unique touch I sadly missed out on due to the never-ending queues every time I attempted to check it out.

Swapping PJs for DJs

With a jam-packed agenda boasting over 2,000 sessions, it was a challenge figuring out which ones to hit. Following some sage advice not to attempt teleportation between hotels (some a solid hour away), a few highlights emerged from the sessions I attended.

The keynotes were definitely memorable. It had been mentioned that some people live-stream the keynote from their hotel room due to the 8am kick-offs. For sure it was an early start (and you needed to arrive earlier to get a good spot). But it was well worth the early morning alarms (even doubled with jetlag).

There was a DJ, house bands, light shows and a big buzz in the room. It was guaranteed there would be fresh AWS announcements and was amazing to see 3,000+ people pumped and cheering about all things tech and data.

What did AWS have to say?

The big theme of the event was Generative AI. CEO Adam Selipsky and Vice President of Data and AI Swami Sivasubramanian announced a range of new innovations to enable customers to use generative AI in their day-to-day work. Customer success stories also took centre stage to showcase how they’re using GenAI with real business value.

Amazon Q was in the spotlight, a smart collection of new features and services tucked under an AI umbrella, able to be personalised to your business. Alongside this were the new capabilities for Amazon Bedrock. New things here were finetuning of models and knowledge based now allowing connections between foundation models and internal data sources, enabling applications to execute and automate multi-step tasks, create creative content and generate images.

These features, among others, were compared to the architecture of the brain, allowing businesses to reinvent their way of thinking. The big message here being how humans are creating innovations and leading developments but data is at the core of all of this.

What about us partners?

Dr Ruba Borna led the Partner Keynote, and as a partner to AWS and a new role in Partner Marketing, this was one I was particularly interested in seeing. She spoke in detail about the “art of the impossible” and had a focus on how partners can use Marketplace to build and scale and new modelling to automate LLMs.

More customers took to the stage to talk about their AI stories and best use cases, and it was clear that the investment AWS is making in its tooling is reinventing the way we work.

As a marketer I attended less of the hands-on labs and instead went to talks around how GenAI can support sales and marketing. It’s clear there’s a huge shift around marketing best practices in content creation. Combined with augmented creative thinking, this is transforming customer engagement.

And Bedrock features such as Titan and Llama 2 for content and image generation are just a few game-changing applications that can be used to create new customer experiences, which I’m looking forward to using.

Bright lights and insights

Immersed in a sea of re:Invent lanyards and hoodies that seem to be part of everyone's wardrobe, Las Vegas transforms into a lively community tech hub for the duration of the week.

Despite attending many sessions solo, it never felt that way. Connecting with people from all over the world and sharing insights on projects became a big part of the experience.

And, as the event unfolded in the city that truly never sleeps, the evenings seamlessly became highlights in their own right. Spanning across those iconic venues generously sponsored by partners and customers, each night was a glamorous adventure.

AWS re:Invent left me with this buzz, and it's not just about the cool new services and knowledge I picked up. It's the little things, the attention to detail, and the flawless event management that really stood out.

Even now, back in London a week later, I'm still thinking about it.

Until next year, Vegas! You set the bar high.

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Cat Wassall LinkedIn
Head of Partner Marketing