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During these trying times we are seeing a meteoric rise in cyber security threats targeting user credentials, financial information and sensitive business data.  The current environment presents specific risks and opportunities for hoteliers.  Identifying and addressing these risks has not yet garnered support from the top of the hotel’s management structure.  This must change and will before long.  It is vital that hoteliers take this opportunity to review their data security processes and procedures in order to close the threat vectors.  The coronavirus pandemic has shone a light on serious process and technical security gaps that lead to an increase in the probability that hotels will suffer catastrophic data compromises. 

It may be quite some time before hotels start buying technology again. There will be exceptions, to be sure, but for now they will be few and far between. And as much as I have enjoyed highlighting pockets of cool innovation in this column over the past year, very few readers will be able to act on those insights in the current environment. So while I hope to be able to return to my old format sooner rather than later, I’m going to change focus in this and upcoming columns. I’ll instead talk about what hotels, technology providers, and displaced technologists can do today.

During this challenging time, remember that your people need even more emotional connection.

Well, I had a topic all lined up for this week’s column. I had completed most of the research and sat down on Monday to start writing. But with all that is going on in the world, I decided to put that on the shelf for a cycle or two. No one is going to take the time to read anything right now that doesn’t talk about the novel Coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease. So, I started afresh and will diverge from my usual approach.

Last week, the World Health Organization announced that COVID-19—the viral disease that has swept the globe and killed more than 8,200 people—is officially a pandemic. And on Saturday, the Trump administration extended the ban on foreign nationals from certain European countries to include those traveling from the United Kingdom and Ireland. Industry conferences and meetings have been cancelled or postponed, and many companies are electing not to require employees to travel.

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Enterprise System Pitfalls Part V: Complexity

11/18/2019 Tagged as: Chorum, Complexity, enterprise, Jonas, Loyd, Mark, outputs, system
by Mark Loyd

The biggest enemy to any system is complexity. In a system of inputs and outputs, such as an enterprise system, more complexity means more parts are used in interaction with inputs to create the outputs. Every part that must be built and maintained costs time and money. If we were to look at this from a risk perspective, every part that a process is dependent on is a risk. Each part is a risk of being broken, functioning unexpectedly, or adding time or other variable to the mix of parts that must function in coordination in order to get the expected result. When using probability to calculate total risk, it is a function of multiplication, meaning that each part adds exponentially more risk. Think of it this way: each part doubles the likelihood of failure.
Albert Einstein is attributed as saying, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.”  Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” At this point, most readers are nodding their heads in agreement. If so, then why do we have such overly-complex enterprise systems? The problem lies in how we think. Humans process things in a linear manner based on analogy. Most of the time, we solve problems by forging ahead, and not stopping, returning to principles, and making the simplest decision.
In my last blog, I addressed the common misconception that microservices by nature reduce dependencies. In my experience, this isn’t true in most implementations. But most modern enterprise system architects believe by linear thinking and analogy that the problems of their old monolith will be solved with microservices. The typical results I see is that the dependencies become hidden (implicit), but not removed, and the system overall is exponentially more complicated. My last three posts on enterprise system pitfalls discussed problems that ultimately lead to complexity:
  • Over abstraction: Creating abstract layers between specific functions adds significant complexity

  • The infrastructure imbalance: The more infrastructure code added to a system, the more parts and complexity is created

  • Hidden dependencies: Dependencies are one of the greatest contributors to complexity. We think the shape of our design removes dependencies, but most of the time we have implicit dependencies all over the place.
When you add it all up, the greatest negative impact of all these pitfalls is complexity, which leads to missing deadlines and blowing up budgets. We need to rethink our approach to problem solving. When asked how SpaceX built their prototype rocket in less than 6 months, Elon Musk responded 
“The best part is no part. The best process is no process. It costs nothing, weighs nothing, can’t go wrong…. The thing I’m most impressed with when we have our design meetings at SpaceX is what did you undesign? Undesigning is the best thing. Just delete it. That’s the best thing.”
If we are to build enterprise systems that meets or exceeds our business needs, we simply need to reduce as much as possible. When facing 2 solutions to a problem, do what is fast and least, not what is “right” in the eyes of the engineers. Engineers needs to change their perspective on what is right. Fast and simple is less expensive, completed on time, and done. This is right. In any engineering endeavor, maintain disciple to view things this way, and you’ll have a working platform very quickly.
About The Author
Mark Loyd
Jonas Chorum

Mark has two passions… technology and the outdoors. Starting his technology career in the late '90s as a software developer for a property management system, he quickly worked his way through the ranks and entered his first leadership position in 2000, managing a team of 5 developers. Twenty years later, having served as COO, CSO, CTO, and now president, Mark leads a talented team of 120 people that follow his passion and vision in making Jonas Chorum a technology leader in the hospitality industry. 

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