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User group hopes to Encompass tech travel

The Encompass user group has announced dates for the 2006 HP Technology Forum, the second edition of the event which found a place on the HP tech travel schedule after Interex imploded last summer. This year the Forum gathers in Houston, a hotbed of HP activity (from the HQ group which served Compaq before its merger with HP.) The town is also likely to be steamy, as is much of South Texas, even in mid-September.

The George R. Brown Convention Center will host the event, which drew about 4,000 attendees counting everybody in 2005. This year's show will be held Sept. 17-22, far enough away from HP's end-of-fiscal-year meetings that managers can attend sessions and meetings with top accounts and sales staff. The Technology Forum is as much a training ground for HP Americas Presales people as it is a resource for the HP customer.

This year's event costs $995 including the discount for being an Encompass member, and the user group and HP (co-creators) promise registration will open June 1. The content lineup includes MPE in the list, perhaps a nod to the migrating customers still seeking advice on embarking down their path away from the 3000. But the content list in this week's e-mail also includes HIPAA and SOX compliance and Tru64 Unix, so no tech stone is being left unturned. For now, Encompass is still seeking papers for presentations at the Forum Web site.

As Interex did before it, Encompass and the Tech Forum are reminding paper presenters that "sessions that include marketing “fluff” will not be considered for approval. There should be no sessions that pitch the sales of a product." This may not be the case for HP itself while presenting to its Presales staff. One session last year was titled "Winning against the IBM P5." Marketing might have crept into that one.

Encompass is also carrying on the tradition of surveying the HP customer community, a task it shared with the Interex user group last year. The HP Worldwide Advocacy Survey opens up for business on Monday at www.hpadvocacysurvey.org. Some survey takers will win HP digital projectors, iPAQ pocket PCs, and perhaps most valuable, two free passes to the Forum.

The user group also wants to convert its free members from the 3000 community to paid ones. It's using the lure of a conference DVD from 2005, and a promise of a 2006 edition, to bring over the Associate members. The upgrade costs $90. It's also the gateway to the $200 discount off the Technology Forum ticket. Interex members are in the first year of a complementary membership to the user group.

Details on the benefits of membership, and a good comparison between the free and paid levels, are at the "newly redesigned" Encompass Web site at www.encompassUS.org/membership/benefits.cfm.