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The Discover Survival Guide



By Kirk Bresniker, Hewlett Packard Labs Chief Architect and HPE Fellow

For the first time in history of Discover, I won’t be there with you in Las Vegas, as I will be occupied picking up my oldest from his freshman year at University of Oregon. (Go Ducks!)

Since I won’t be there, and since the event can be overwhelming at times, I thought I might pass on 10 tips to get the most out of your Discover experience.   

In no particular order:

Take the surface streets from McCarran. The freeway can be faster, but it will be cheaper if you ask your cab to take the surface streets from the airport to the Sands Expo. Maybe it’s just the luck of being in Vegas, but I’ve met some of my all-time favorite cabbies at Discover.

Start the conversation. If there’s one thing that every HPE staffer is hoping to get out of Discover, it’s customer feedback.  You can be the highlight of their trip report by stopping by and starting the conversation. Whether it was kudos for a feature I worked on but I never knew people appreciated or if it was getting taken down a peg because something I came up with wasn’t really all that useful, there was nothing like hearing about how my engineering affected customers ability to delight their customers.

Get to the gym early. I guess it’s either a testament to the healthy lifestyle of HPE employees, partners, and customers, or everyone is trying to make up for the excesses of the night before, but the hotel gym will be packed.  There will be a line waiting for the doors to open with everyone looking to get in an early workout before breakfast. 

I’ve got two workarounds. First you can try a quick workout mid-day to peak your energy for afternoon sessions.  Alternatively, if you like a run or a power walk, even in June, outside in the morning isn’t too bad. Starting at the Venetian, I recommend running north on The Strip if you like flats, south if you feel like hitting the stairs on the pedestrian overpasses.   

Bring your business cards. Yes, I am on LinkedIn and I’m happy to connect that way, but cards are still the easiest way to exchange your details or to drop in the fishbowl to try and win some swag from the show floor.

Try the food court. The big name restaurants are fun, but they can also be busy and a bit pricey depending on your per diem. There are more casual and affordable restaurants and quicker grab-and-go stuff on the second floor food court at the Venetian shops.

Plan your day. Spend some time before you get to Vegas with the agenda builder tool to find some anchor sessions to block out your day. If a session looks interesting, search on the presenter and his or her organization to see what else is on tap. While you’re at it, search for that one topic that isn’t on your plate but that you’ve always been curious about. Did your boss just ask you about something she saw in CIO Monthly that you don’t have a clue about? Someone at Discover is going to be an expert.

Gang up on us. Look to your right then to your left. You’re standing next to HPE Customers who might know the answer to that problem you left on Friday and will be waiting for you when you get back. Remember that Discover is a User’s Group event, and you and your fellow users are a huge potential resource for each other. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourselves to each other and then turn to the HPE staffer and keep them on their toes together.

Check out The Strip at night. Last Discover I reunited with a colleague and we took a cab down the Strip to catch a movie at the UA, next to the MGM Grand. When it got out at midnight we decided to walk the mile and a half back up Las Vegas Blvd. It’s a cross section of sights, sounds and people that you won’t see anywhere else in the world, so check it out at least once. Buying yard long neon colored frozen alcoholic drinks is left as an optional exercise for the reader.  

Find out if you can sign an NDA. There is more than just the show floor at Discover, and there is more behind the velvet ropes than big gamblers. HPE teams bring product concepts and prototypes as well, which they can share with you if you can sign an NDA. So that you don’t miss out on an opportunity to give these teams feedback before the work is done, make sure that you can sign or have someone with you who can.

Meet the Experts. Did you really enjoy a session or did something really miss the mark? Make sure you let people know! I really do check my numbers and feedback every time I present. With the sessions running back-to-back each day, there usually isn’t too much time after a session for extended questions in the room, but most HPE attendees are doubling down with presentations and are manning exhibits on the floor. Don’t be afraid to ask for a follow up on the floor or a whiteboard session. 

Discover is about making connections, with HPE, with partners and with your peers. The more you connect, the more you’ll get out of it.  

For additional help, download the HPE Discover 2016 app


Photo by jericki cat via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

About the Author


Kirk Bresniker is Chief Architect of Hewlett Packard Labs and an Hewlett Packard Enterprise Fellow. Prior to joining Labs, Kirk was Vice President and Chief Technologist in the HP Servers Global Business Unit representing 25 years of innovation leadership.


Great post Kirk. You've covered a lot of the things people don't even think to ask or try. Great reminder for anyone attending Discover.

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