HP plan to unify user conferences not a worry for NZ: chairman

US conferences to 'coalesce' into one

New Zealand's HP user group won't be affected by moves by HP in the US to consolidate several user events into one, says group chairman Alan Dick.

The New Zealand group, HP Encompass NZ (formerly HP Decus NZ) has working relationships with the US Encompass group and with the European, Middle East and African branches of Interex, a different HP user group, Dick says, "but we're agnostic as to what's happening in the US."

HP is planning to "coalesce" several annual user conferences it supports into one from next year, with established events such as HP World and the OpenView Forum's Software Forum possibly being discontinued in favour of one event, which HP says will be a "technical solutions conference."

There are four major HP user groups worldwide - Encompass, Interex, ITUG and the OpenView Forum — all of whose US conferences are supported to some degree by HP.

The HP World event is produced by Encompass and Interex in association with HP and HP also supports the OpenView Software Forum and ITUG Summit.

HP Americas vice president David Parsons told Computerworld US that the four user groups would work with HP on the new conference and said a single event would "bring the full brunt of HP resources," to conference-goers.

However, ITUG (which also goes by the name International HP NonStop Users Group) plans to go ahead with its own conference next year and chairman Richard Buckle says users "would much rather go to the boutique, focused show than be lost in the crowd at one of these general, Comdex-like shows."

OpenView Forum International president Henry Wojcik says he believes a single conference would be of greater value to hardware and operating system-centric user groups than to OpenView software users.

Encompass president Kristi Bower said "we don't feel like we're going to be shortchanged in [a single conference] at all," but Interex president Denys Beauchemin, on the possibility of HP World being stopped, said "if you surrender your premier event, what is your purpose in life beyond that?"

HP's Parsons didn't rule out HP supporting future conferences run independently by user groups, but acknowledged that a single conference might ultimately result in consolidation of user groups.

"In the context of the bigger picture, at some point one [user group] is always better than two or four."

HP Encompass NZ is the only HP user group in New Zealand.

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