The first session of the day was also my favorite, “Building a Better Hotel Infrastructure” led by Robin Koetje, Ken Barnes and James Lingle. It was the sort of block-and-tackle information that I come to HITEC for. Here are a few of the many great points made:
- You’ve got to start with the environment. what are the brand standards and other decisions that are already made for you? What is the owner’s vision and mindset? Are they in it for the long haul, or to flip? Do they want to push the envelope in terms of technology and guest services, or play to the low denominator? What are the local requirements; for example is water abundant or scarce?
- Resist the temptation to think that your current project will be just like your last one, what Koetje calls a “save-as” project.
- There is a trend to Wi-Fi only as a guestroom standard. Where will this leave your property when who-knows-what-is-next becomes your guest’s expectation? (Hint: involves sheetrock)
- Due to the increased price of copper, fiber to the guestroom can have a positive ROI versus CAT6 cable.
- Most companies would not think twice about having a professional design the layout of a kitchen; why do they balk at having a professional design the network infrastructure?
In today’s keynote speech, Douglas Merrill, former CIO of Google, launched a spirited assault on the current mindset towards IT security and compliance efforts. He began by reminding attendees that two-thirds of companies in the 1990 Fortune 100 did not exist in 2010, including brilliant companies like Eastman Kodak. A Kodak engineer invented the technology for what would become the digital camera image sensor, but was told Kodak was “in the film business”. Oops.
Merrill said that IT security spending is growing faster than most other parts of organizational spending, but do we know why and do we know what we are getting? He said that corporate leaders are operating out of a nebulous fear that they have been or will be hacked, and from that mindset are throwing “dumb money” at the problem. There is not enough hard data supporting these efforts or justifying the results. For example, ninety-plus percent of companies that have disaster recovery plans have never tested them.
He downplayed the fallout of the Target breach, saying that there had been few fraudulent transactions attributable to the breach and that the stock hardly sank. In doing so I believe he glossed over the consumer confidence and hard costs.
At the end of the day it’s all about winning, he said, and what are your security and compliance efforts doing to help you win? Companies need to be posing this question to their IT and legal teams. Companies need to tackle the real problems, not the imaginary ones, and refocus data acquisition and analysis around winning the game.
499 words, got to go.
Randy Craven, CHTP is co-principal of Stella Solutions Group, a hospitality software development and consulting firm based in Greensboro, NC. He has been an HFTP member for three years and currently serves as president of the HFTP Central Carolina Chapter, and also as a member of the HFTP Certification Advisory Council. He was the HFTP 2012 CHTP of the Year recipient.
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