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HITEC the high road – notes from the Keynotes at this year’s US event - HITEC 2013

HITEC is large by any standards, but this year’s event, which included over 4,800 attendees, also included Matroyska-like conferences-within-conferences on topics including golf and spas.

There are always some terrific keynote speakers to learn from and so I thought I would summarise some of their thoughts and comments for HOSPA members to dwell on!

This year’s event opened with a session led by Theresa Payton – a previous IT director at the White House, who, as you would expect, focused mainly on security. She talked about setting up a military-style internal exercise of “good guys versus bad guys”, where they would try to break into their own system…and the ‘bad ‘guys broke in very easily! She advocated all major companies practicing for a digital disaster. One comment struck home: “Organisations could be targets regardless of what they do, but most become a target because of what they do”.

Payton said that there was an average of 243 days per year when the bad guys are in your system before they are realised or discovered. New deviant or malware is created every 90 seconds and in two days could be developed and released - an innovation timescale much quicker than a normal business development cycle!

Payton said that, within your IT staff, 5% to 12% should be focused on security, as opposed to the 3% which most companies currently allocate. Her advice when planning for a disaster was to ‘Date’ those companies you may need in a crisis now, before it happens. There should be prenuptial agreements and break-up fees in any SLA.

Hospitality is particularly vulnerable, with 77% of breach investigations last year being in the sector - one company’s data breach cost them USD31m this year. Most IT breaches are discovered by victims or when there is a ‘knock on the door’ by security services.

Payton finished by asking a couple of key question of the audience: Who is VP or president of your digital assets? And should they be on separate networks?

We have a signed copy of Payton’s book ‘Protecting your Internet Security’ available for a lucky HOSPA member! To enter the draw to win the signed copy of the book, please post a comment on this article (below) saying who would you like to see speak at HOSPACE? You must also do one of the following:

Like our page on Facebook: Join our Linkedin group: Or follow us on Twitter:

They next session was with David Woolman, a contributing editor to Wired magazine, who wrote a best-selling book about the future of cash called ‘The End of Money’. One key finding he learned during his research, which saw him live without cash for a year, was from a Swedish policeman, who said that such moves made the underworld very unhappy, commenting that “cash is what flows in the veins of crime”.

Woolman was surprised by the emotional reaction of some to the idea that the use of cash might be coming to a conclusion. Bank notes, he said, were “heritage that you can hold in your hand”, drawing attention to the US, where bank notes are not redesigned as they are in countries such as the UK.

Woolman looked at some of the alternative currencies, such as Facebook credits and the Amazon coin. He also talked about the new methods of transferring money, such as M-Pesa, the mobile phone-based system in Kenya and Tanzania, which has 19 million users.

He concluded that the basic premise behind cash remains the same: “I have potatoes and you have furs. If I am cold and you are hungry then barter works. Otherwise you need a currency and that is why it was invented”.

We have a copy of ‘The End of Money’ available for a lucky HOSPA Member: To enter the draw to win the signed copy of the book, please post a comment on this article (below) saying who would you like to see speak at HOSPACE? You must also do one of the following:

Like our page on Facebook: Join our Linkedin group: Or follow us on Twitter:

HITEC had a very positive vibe about it this year, with business and spend going on. One consultant commented to me that “the spend that has been put off since 2008 is now coming around as having to be invested – as things are starting to break”.

I witnessed a few educational sessions – primarily around the issues of travel intermediaries and meta-mediaries which will be a challenge for revenue managers – plus a talk on the issue of attribution modelling (see  for a Google take on this)

We will be distributing a HITEC Special report document provided by our friends from HFTP which discusses some of these issue.

This year’s event was in Minneapolis, but next year’s is planned for Los Angeles, with 75% of the close to 500 exhibitor booths already booked, confirming the popularity of this useful and interesting event.

Draw Conditions Winners for each publication will be selected at random from the list of comments and checked against our social media directories. If the social media criteria is not met then another winner will be selected.

Entries for the draw closes on 31st August 2013. HOSPA will then notify winners by email to the address supplied with the comment.


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