The upcoming HP Discover 2012 conference in Las Vegas is both an exclamation point on the current enterprise IT climate of change as well as a neon signpost for HP’s strategy and direction.
Why is IT is at a crossroads? How is the very nature of IT being redefined as a result of such large and global trends as the accelerating speed of business, cloud computing, security needs, mobile, energy-conservation demands and especially the new role of IT as a Service?
Such trends are pushing those tasked with supporting their businesses, as never before, to meet and collaborate with their peers and colleagues and really re-evaluate how IT and business come together.
HP Discover 2012 provides an unparalleled opportunity for HP users to absorb the insights of the HP ecosystem and to learn more about their fields and technologies from their peers and associates.
The event marks an important time for HP, as it solidifies its responses to these trends, provides new levels of education and more insight into its new product services, vision and leadership.
To help better understand HP Discover and its benefits noted blogger, author, and a longtime observer of all things HP Nina Buik, chief marketing officer at Connect Worldwide, is interviewed by Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. Connect is the largest user community of HP Business Technology customers, with more than 55,000 members worldwide.
Listen to the podcast (29:39 minutes).
Here are some excerpts from their chat:
Nina Buik: I think we’re at a crossroads right now, going into a new era of computing with cloud computing, bring your own device (BYOD), the challenges with security, and a laser focus on gaining better business outcomes through technology. This is why it’s so important this year to come to events like HP Discover to get answers.
You’ve got fewer and fewer people supporting IT. IT has become very sophisticated, requiring fewer hands to touch the system. Therefore folks need to get out and hear messaging from their partners, HP, and HP’s partners to see how they can achieve these goals.
Dana Gardner: Those who are managing and implementing IT are being asked to be both specialists and generalists. You need to be very deep technically, but you also need to understand the business implications.
Buik: You’re absolutely right. You bring up an important point, because I think that the trend also is that folks who were in more of a management or a systems management role are being asked to be strategic as well.
They’re having to expand their knowledge of systems, instead of just focusing on the network and the integration of how storage fits into this … [but] how do we achieve these goals by integrating all of these aspects?
Gardner: HP Discover at the Venetian Hotel and Sands Convention Center is in Las Vegas the week of June 4 and goes for 4-5 days. For those folks who might not be familiar, Discover is really the culmination and the integration of a number of other conferences. Isn’t that right, Nina?
Buik: Yes, Software Universe merged with HP Technology Forum & Expo to become HP Discover. That was really an important addition to this event, because you really can’t have one without the other. They need to be together, and it’s very exciting to see the results of that. Last year was incredible with 10,000 people together, and really, it helps the attendees get the most out of their investments.
Gardner: One of the things about HP is that there are really just a very few organizations that can be brought to bear at that strategic level.
Buik: You hit on something key. Partnerships and alliances are so critical right now. A lot of companies in the small-to-medium size business (SMB) space typically don’t have that opportunity to sit down with a company like HP to discuss all of these concerns and how to tie them all in together. At HP Discover they can do that.
There are so many opportunities where you can sit down side by side with engineers and get questions answered. So you have that expertise at your fingertips. You’re able to bring that back to your organization, make those plans, and achieve the goals that you’re looking for.
But in terms of partnership, relationships are built on trust. When you have that trust relationship, there’s accountability on both sides to communicate well, to focus on the goals, and look at HP as a trusted partner.
Gardner: Tell me a little bit about the history of Connect and why this is such a big deal for you too?
Buik: I’ve been involved with the HP user communities going back almost 20 years, as a former member of the community and a member of the board of directors. The communities decided to come together in 2008. You had the NonStop community, the traditional HP-Interex community, as well as Encompass come together to form one large HP enterprise user community, and we became Connect.
The things that we’ve accomplished together and the way that we focus on help the users become successful with the technologies they use. Our goal is to help a member get the most out of their business technology investments. We do that through providing opportunities to influence HP and HP’s partners, or advocacy, and education and awareness. We’re making the members aware of not only what’s going on within HP, but educating them on products and solutions that HP has available for them.
Most importantly, we provide opportunities for like-minded users to get together and share best practices. They can learn from each other, and it’s magical when it comes together. It truly is. So we look forward to having a record number of members attend HP Discover this year.
We’re introducing new special-interest group meetings at HP Discover this year. We’re launching a cloud special interest group (SIG). We have a Superdome SIG and a variety of other SIGs. But aside from community, I think this is the right time.
We’re at crossroads in technology, and people within the community know that, at community events, they’re going to be able to discuss with other folks how they’re using a particular technology. For example, if they’re interested in cloud computing, what’s a better place to come together to learn how other companies are using these technologies as well as understand what HP is offering? So they bring these two together and they’re able to make some strategic decisions that they can bring back to their organizations.
Gardner: I should point out as full disclosure that I’m a blogger on the Connect site and really appreciate the opportunity to participate. Have you’ve been doing any polling recently? What have you been able to tell us about what the zeitgeist, the mentality, is among your users?
Buik: Just before the registration for Discover launched, we wanted to understand why our members wanted to attend Discover. The number one reason was peer networking, followed closely by education.
That ties right back into what we were just talking about, being able to talk to other members and just other attendees about their experiences working with HP and using various HP technologies. What is the saying, “Self praise is no recommendation?” You really learn more from others.
Then again, tie that right into speaking with the HP engineers and other professionals about what HP has to offer, and between the two, you can make great decisions. In terms of education, there are over 700 sessions in the session catalog. There’s everything from cloud to security. There is just so much being offered.
Another interesting poll that we did on the top technology trends for 2012, a lot of folks are looking at platform migration, the Oracle announcement. So we know there are members who are looking at platform migration, and that could be a huge endeavor, depending on the company size, the size of the systems, or the number of systems involved.
So what better place to go to, to learn from others who perhaps have experienced that, than at an event like HP Discover?
Gardner: Certification is also a big deal now. Getting back to that issue about career and how to position yourself at these crossroads for your personal future, isn’t there sort of a big opportunity around certification here at these events?
Buik: The ExpertONE community is offering five free certifications with your registration. Each one of those certifications cost anywhere between $150 and $200. So that’s a huge deal. But more than that, through the years, the importance and significance of certifications has changed.
Now, more than ever, IT professionals are looking at certification as a means to separate themselves from the competition for particular job opportunities, or even within an organization, to show that they can kind of move up within an organization.
There are just so many people now looking for work. It’s a very flooded market. I recently spoke with the CIO who said, I post one opportunity and my human resource manager brings me 1,500 resumes. The only way I can differentiate, to weed out the first round, is through certification. So it’s really important.
Gardner: Discover, of course, provides an unprecedented opportunity for HP itself. They have the opportunity of getting 10,000 people under “one tent.” They have their main stage presentations. It’s really the premiere coming-out party for HP, when it has new vision, when it has strategies that it wants to solidify, and when it comes to introducing and affirming leadership.
We’re going to hear from Meg Whitman, HP’s president and CEO. I think it’s her first big appearance in North America. She did, of course, present in Vienna at the fall Discover. Is this a big deal for Meg, in particular, do you think, Nina?
Buik: I think so. I did hear her speak in Vienna, as her first opportunity to address HP customers. She did absolutely what she should do, as explained in her vision for the company. Now it’s time to turn the corner and talk about technology, where we’re going with technology, and how HP has committed to supporting the customer through these changes.
This is even more important than that first opportunity to say, “Here’s who I am. Here’s a little bit about me.” She has established herself, and now it’s time to focus on the technology and on how HP is committed and dedicated to helping HP business technology customers achieve success in this new environment.
Gardner: And she is going to be joined on stage by such HP leaders as Dave Donatelli, the executive vice president and general manager of the Enterprise Group; Todd Bradley, the executive vice president of Printing and Personal Systems Group; Bill Veghte, the chief strategy officer and executive vice president of HP Software; Mike Lynch, the executive vice president for Information Management; and John Visentin, executive vice president for Enterprise Services.
I also understand that Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO of Dreamworks Animation, is going to be on stage. Of course, Dreamworks has been in tight collaboration with HP in the production of its animation and 3D products. So that should be very interesting.
You mentioned earlier that we’ve got something like 700-800 business and technical sessions. There is the Discover Zone of the exhibits area, where more than 350,000 square feet space will be devoted to IT solutions from the ecosystem, where you can find the partners and the folks that are part and parcel of the total-solution approach.
There is the one-day Partner Summit on Monday, June 4, and an invitation-only CIO Summit as well. Now, tell me about Connect. You’ve got some of your own events at Discover, I think there is a community night?
Buik: Absolutely. Connect will be part of the Community Lounge in the Discover Zone. It’s right next to the bloggers’ lounge. So it’s an opportunity for Connect members and folks who don’t know about Connect to come to learn more, as well as take a load off their feet. No one is trying to sell anything. We’re just trying to make sure everybody is comfortable, happy, and has an opportunity to meet and network with others.
Typically, a lot of folks come to the Community Lounge and use it somewhat as an informational area. Where can they learn more about x, y, z, or where might there be a particular topic? The great thing is that so many people are attending, we can actually make those connections right there. So it’s really a neat place to be.
Also, on Wednesday evening, we’re hosting a community appreciation night with Vivit which is the HP software community. That’s going to be at Gilley’s, across the street from the Venetian at Treasure Island. Wednesday evening, we’re going to host a tweet up from 7:00 to 8:00 followed by a Going for the Gold community appreciation night. So there’s going to be a lot of fun, as we kind of celebrate the ancient Greek games, but western style with a twist. So we’ve got a lot of fun things coming.
We’re really tying in social media as part of this event to extend the buzz around the world.
My advice to folks who are attending an event as big as HP Discover is to define what your goals are for the event: “I want to learn more about XYZ,”or “My goal is to come back with a plan for how we’re going to implement a hybrid cloud or a private cloud.” Or my goal could be that I find myself in between jobs. I know folks who are doing this. They’ve bought their registration and they’re going there to network, because they’ve worked in the HP space for so many years.
But have a plan. Then, go look at the session scheduler and find the sessions that match your plan. You can do a keyword search. You can do a search by track. Identify the sessions that will meet your needs or help you meet those objectives.
Look for SIG meetings, if you want to hear from peers. Connect has 12 SIG meetings. So keyword search SIG. That’s a great opportunity for you to interact not only with other like-minded professionals, but also with HP folks who are subject matter experts on that particular topic or SIG.
You can learn more about Connect by visiting connect-community.org, but also if you register for HP Discover you can get a $300 discount and be affiliated with the community, so that you can get your fast pass into the community party on Wednesday evening. The code is UG2012.
Gardner: That’s worth $300?
Buik: $300. Easy money.