Article

HP user group Connect president reflects on group gains

Mark Fontecchio
LAS VEGAS – It has been a year since three Hewlett-Packard user groups -- Encompass, ITUG (International Tandem Users Group) and HP-Interex -- merged to form Connect. That umbrella group now has 50,000

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members and 32 chapters worldwide. Connect's president, Nina Buik, sat down at the HP Technology Forum in Las Vegas this week to discuss the past year's efforts to bolster membership and increase influence within HP as well as what's on tap for the future.

Q: Last year three HP user groups consolidated into one, Connect. How has it gone?
Nina Buik:
It's gone really well. We still have challenges. We still have parts of the community that we need to pay more attention to, but the overall consolidation has gone very well. We're growing. We're thrilled at how things have transpired.

Q: Which parts of the community need more attention?
Buik:
NonStop and OpenVMS. They are passionate users. Next year you will probably see more targeted events for those communities to connect with independent software vendors in their areas.

Q: How do you segment Connect's 50,000 members into subgroups so that users get what they want?
Buik:
Special-interest groups. Some of the chapters we have around the world might be around a specific technology. We now have a social network, connect-community.org. Whether it's storage or VMS or NonStop or people interested in blades, they can have conversations with one another. There are discussions that go on in forums, and groups might have events listed related to that specific technology.

Q: Connect's online network, connect-community.org, launched this April. How is it going?
Buik:
We had about 27,000 page views in April and 30,000 in May, which is good for having just started the site.

Q: How has the consolidation of the groups affected communication with HP?
Buik:
Before, there were so many discussions going on within various factions within HP, it wasn't efficient. As we consolidated, HP was consolidating its support of the user groups on its end. It has made the process easier.

Q: Does Connect have a formal process for making suggestions for and criticisms of HP?
Buik:
We have a formal advocacy group and a process in place. We want a unified voice so we can help HP deliver those changes.

Q: What's on tap for the group in the next year?
Buik:
There is still this opportunity on our social network to offer more programs delivered through that channel. We're putting a lot of effort into growing our social network, and I see that being a vehicle for a lot of programs delivered in the future. We're also looking to expand our global reach. There are still areas in the world where we don't have a strong presence. I would say in China, in Latin America, there are huge opportunities there.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Mark Fontecchio, News Writer.


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