Encompass launched the drumbeat of marketing for its 2007 conference during the past week. Today HP chipped in a new verse to the "come commune with us" song. HP's e-mail shows how essential the user group meeting has become to HP communication with customers. Between the lines (as Adager's Alfredo Rego would say about a love letter), HP's e-mail also explains why the traditional autumn conference called the HP Technology Forum has jumped ahead to be a midsummer meeting this year at The Mandalay Bay.
HP now calls this year's June 18-21 meetings in Las Vegas "the trifecta" by including a long-standing HP Americas StorageWorks conference and a new "HP Software Universe" on the agenda. The Storage meeting has always been held much earlier in HP's fiscal year, unlike the Tech Forum held twice in HP's Q4. But since HP is ever alert to the possibilities of collaboration and consolidation (both good for profitability), the three meetings now merge in a single week.
It's kind of like having a "South by Southwest" week-plus rear its head in Austin, instead of the original three-day music festival. Us Austinites have watched the engine of the week, the Austin Chronicle, rev up just-ended SXSW to include Interactive (Web and gaming) and Film festivals, all overlapping by a bit. We see a lot of hipsters in the coffee shops here for about 10 days in March. We also see movies and hear music which may never see screens or ring ears again (alas, no distribution deals for much of the content). And if you design for the Web or create interactive software, well, you can find out how far you've fallen behind the cutting edge.
You will need cut loose an invitation to HP's StorageWorks meeting, held at the more tony Venetian resort a few casinos down the street. For the HP 3000 customer, the new Trifecta could offer a way to combine three research trips into a single junket, and in the city of Lost Wages, no less. The only downside we can see is The Weather in June. The temperature on last June 18 topped out at 107 degrees. But it's a dry heat, my mom says, having lived there since 1990. Of course, those Las Vegas resorts boast the Superdome of air conditioning. A tram takes you between resorts for a few dollars a ride. At night, June's outside air almost makes it down out of the 80s.
If only HP and Encompass had decided back in 2005 to make their new show a mid-June event, perhaps the Interex HP user group would still be around. (Perhaps not, considering the debt which was already on the back of Interex.) Back then, the new Encompass event was scheduled less than a month after the promised HP World show. HP World never raised its 2005 curtain. The '05 Tech Forum ran into Hurricane Katrina, but retreated to Orlando to emerge as the only remaining North American HP technology show.
There seems little to be gained by recalling that HP technical conference of 1990 — called Interex after the now-defunct user group of the same name — held in Boston. Except that Interex '90 was a seminal HP 3000 gathering, something unlikely to occur at this summer's Encompass/HP Trifecta. The city of Boston cradled the 3000 community's Tea Party moment, with users railing and revolting at the vendor's attempt to separate the computer from its IMAGE database.
Las Vegas will bring HP's CEO Mark Hurd, plus the everlasting Executive VP Ann Livermore and CIO Randy Mott. These talking head-liners will only be the sprinkles of the three-layer cake of the week, though. We expect it all to be attended in even larger numbers now by HP's sales force. The Tech Forum has always had a strong HP training track for HP employees. Combining the conference with Software and Storage events will amplify HP attendance.
There is still room at the Mandalay Bay resort for the 3000 customer who wants to research migration options to keep their company in orbit about HP's sun, or learn more about target HP 3000 migration platforms. You can also bone up on HP's Unix, or discover the ways of Windows for an enterprise. Oh, and attend the closing party to hear the "Grammy-award winning, multi-platinum band Train."
At least that band has a distribution contract. Head to the Southwest by very Deep Southwest to hear HP make its case for your continued business. The vendor and the user group promise 7,000 attendees across the Technology Forum alone. High numbers mean high networking, once you find someone with experience you desire or a common configuration.
And if you're really lucky, Mom lives in the same city. We will see you there.