Keeping Culture Caught Up

Our end-user friends need an upgrade

“And here comes Technology, screaming ahead of the pack! Seems like no one can keep up with her, Bob.”

“I know what you mean, Jim. We’ve got Sys Admin trailing behind, trying to keep up. She sure does her best.”

“And then there’s End User. Way back there! Leaning up against a tree, smoking a cigarette. That guy really doesn’t know just how far behind he is, does he, Bob?”

“He sure doesn’t, Jim.”

For those of you that have been in IT since before it was called IT, you possibly remember the people that would say something like, “Yeah, I know just enough to be dangerous,” and then laugh. Because it was so funny when they broke things due to overconfidence. Problems that you had to fix.

One of our biggest challenges in technology management is born from this type of person still existing, combined with the fact that s/he is in a new, changed world—a much more dangerous one. A world where individuals and organizations alike are losing money, time, integrity. Under-education of users, careless computer usage, and lack of leadership to improve these things is resulting in far worse consequences than an eye roll from your company’s computer guy. Does your organization hold data that includes the names and addresses of children? Mine does. Being dangerous with the computer is not funny anymore.

For just a moment, I’m going to skip the part about the personal information of you and your loved ones being at risk. Let’s touch on financial risk. On October 21st, 2016, a double whammy DDoS attack brought down the internet for most of the East Coast. A botnet was engineered to take advantage of vulnerabilities in tens of millions of IoT devices. If we wanted to lay blame, some might point a finger at the assailants, stating that the attack was immensely complex. We might also consider the premiere victim, DNS services, and contemplate what could have been done on that end to avoid the attack.

If you research this event, one thing you may come across is blame upon the difficulty of changing default passwords. That is one useful perspective: don’t assume the skill level of end users. No argument from me there. But I’d like to present another angle that I believe to be equally legitimate and useful. If you never put the crutch away, you will always need the crutch. Largely, common users of technology have not been “taught to fish”. Those IoT devices can have the most robust, in-your-face, Credential Change Me mechanism ever, but the world is still wandering on dangerous ground when individuals don’t take charge of their own safety.

It’s hard to say what the economic damages were from the 2016 outage, but global damages were estimated at over $5 billion from just ransomware in 2017.

Here’s a recent bit from 60 Minutes on ransomware.

“Well, Jim, we can’t just walk onto the track and tell End User he’s in a race, can we?”

No, Bob. It wouldn’t be appropriate, or realistic, for me to go deeply into anthropological and psychological science. However, culture wasn’t created in college. Change starts with thinking outside the box, and is deployed when charismatic folk take action. We are leaders within our organizations, and have the potential to affect that culture. It doesn’t start with a mass email that will be deleted by 90% of recipients. And, no, it doesn’t start with a newsletter article, either. It starts with talking. Chatting with your users on their level. Discussing things they understand, like how there are sick people in this world that we don’t want acquiring personal information, especially that of our youth.

On the subject of training and communication, it’s important to remember that this “user’s level” I’m speaking of is not “lower”. Just different. In many cases, the end user truly doesn’t know they’re in that race. And often when we try to tell them how to keep up—to take precautions and self-educate—they think we’re paranoid, or that we should put them in a cart and push them down the track. The real challenge is showing people that information technology is not a thing that should always and forever be used by many and fixed by few, and that using devices should be as simple as pushing the buttons and waiting for it to do what is desired. We’re not doing users any favors by being the company computer guy, telling the person to “Move!”, then rebooting for them. If someone is hired to drive a car, and then say, “Oh, I’m not very good at this,” and expect someone to drive it for them, the employer will wonder why they applied for the job in the first place; if the employer is kind, they attempt some training. The personal computer is not new technology anymore. It’s been at large for over 30 years.

With both IoT and malicious internet activity accelerating, one of the most important upgrades we should be thinking about is an upgrade to the culture of technology usage. Let’s stop holding hands and walking people down the path, and start showing them the path. Show them the world they live in.

Take part in this conversation and many more at the 2019 Mountain Technology Symposium at Jay Peak, VT. October 2nd through the 4th.
Register now!

Scenes from Prior MTS Events

We are looking forward to seeing you at the Spring 2019 NSAA conference in San Diego! We wanted to share some info from prior Mountain Technology Symposium conferences to give you an idea of what you can expect in 2019 at the Jay Peak event. We are continuing to develop the 2019 schedule. You can have a look at the current 2019 schedule here

Click here to see the photo gallery from the 2018 event held in Sun Valley.

Click here to see the 2018 event schedule

Click here to see the 2017 event schedule

 

A Helping Hand for Hospitality

We are technology professionals. Our knowledge and skill-sets spread all over aspects of business and personal life. But what do we do? We configure things. Push buttons. Stare at screens until our eyes hurt. But at the end of the day, our core function in business is not rebooting frozen workstations or telling people how to do things they can find online. We provide solutions. And if a company is utilizing us properly and fully, these can be solutions to “problems” the company doesn’t even know it has.

The hospitality industry needs to get people through doors and
gates. It needs to take money, keep customers safe, give basic information, and
probably provide some set of products and services. These are things that
almost all businesses do. You know where I’m going with this; hospitality is,
by its very nature, more than that. Hotel staff can and want to give
people smiles as they’re going through the door. Ski area safety personnel don’t
just want skiers to be safe, they
want them to feel safe. The job is
getting done right when the customer feels that information is readily
available without being invasive or obnoxious. Our business is beyond products
and services. It’s experience!

Now, I could go into an essay of elaborate parables and metaphors that map the hospitality business to what we do in our services to the folks with whom we work. And then most of you would roll your eyes at how much of a stretch it all was until you just stopped reading. But in all seriousness, I think we can at least take some cues from the business model that provides us jobs.

As IT personnel, we need to get people through
doors and gateways. We need to keep their data safe, guide them to Google, and
empower them to take money. Our list of necessary services to the company we
work for is longer than what is provided by that same company. Just sayin’.

Technology professionals, when doing the
job right, want to do more! We want VPs and execs to feel like their company is
safe (in part by educating them on what dangers there are). We want to increase
productivity, efficiency, and bottom-line through quality solutions, not just
what one can get from common or
popular platforms. An IT department is the best it can be when staff are well
informed, easily finding the documentation and training they need. And last but
not least, I know I’m not the only one who wants to help my colleagues make the
journey through the seasons enjoyable. Who doesn’t want less stress?!

This is why we invented the Mountain
Technology Symposium. We are a community of professionals that truly want to be
a part of creating an experience full of smiles. So as winter operations come
to a close, and you watch all your company’s teams do their best to keep up
momentum through to the end, ask yourself this: will in-person collaboration do
anything but help us grow?

Unless you are that one person that
doesn’t have any use of a helping hand from an industry colleague, please join
us at the Mountain
Technology Symposium
, October 2nd through 4th,
2019 in Jay Peak, Vermont! Register
here!

Keep an eye out for the May newsletter.
I’ll be featuring either a sponsor or a committee member or both, and their
contributions to the symposium and the industry.

2019 MTS Scholarship

Need help attending the Mountain Technology Symposium in 2019?

New this year!

Scholarships are available for resorts who wish to attend the event, but are lacking the budgetary funds to do so. This year’s scholarship program sponsor is Flaik!

To submit a scholarship application

Use this form to submit your application. 


NOTE: Applications must be received no later than June 1, 2019. All sponsorship applications will be reviewed by Steve Kenny, CEO at Flaik, as well as the planning committee for the 2019 Mountain Technology Symposium. Good luck, and hope to see you there!

Data and Adventure!

What do you get when you gather minds from
all over the world to discuss what can be done with technology to grow the ski and
hospitality industries? Collaboration? Solutions? Fun? The attendees at the
2018 Mountain Technology Symposium in Sun Valley, ID might give you a dozen
different answers. And then they would debate the correct answer for hours
until everyone still disagreed—because they are IT.

After the success of the inaugural event
in Telluride, CO, the symposium committee of seven decided that continuation of
the event was justified. For three too-short days during the weekend of Oct 13,
2018, IT experts from 4 countries, 22 ski resorts, all from 23 states and
provinces, met in a beautiful Idaho area called Sun Valley. Our goal was to
drive technology for resorts and hospitality facilities at a rate no one can do
alone. The achievement of such a goal is difficult to quantify or grade, but
when collaboration and communication between colleagues has increased, and new
topic ideas explode onto an agenda for the next symposium, general success is
clear.

The brain child for the first symposium in
Telluride was Benjamin Whiting, IS Director. Chris Jaquet, Software Specialist
for the same resort, took on planning, coordination, and a list of other
cornerstone responsibilities too long to list in a magazine article. Between
these two professionals and the rest of the symposium committee, they hit it
out of the park. Compliments from attendees hardly stopped. Sponsors and
presenters alike were more than satisfied with the turnout.

As one would expect, year one of the event
was not flawless. Not all presenters were precisely aware of the desired
presentation focus. There were some great speakers, and several sessions were
both insightful and useful, but not everyone delivered problem, concept, and
solution. Beyond that, from a higher level, the whole event was not exactly
what it could have been for maximum benefit. In short, the hosts just didn’t
yet know precisely what that was—what this seminar could be.

Due to dozens of discussion, loads of
feedback, and one survey, these shortcomings were fixed for year two.
Presenters not only discussed solutions, but also thought provoking concepts.
Even the speakers that were praised in 2017 brought further improvements and
fresh ideas to their sequel speeches. The community effort shaped year two into
something that gave that community a greater awakening to the benefit a
resort-focused technology conference than many imagined was possible.

The keynote by Sun Valley’s CEO, Tim
Silva, was focused on the state of the industry and some fundamental challenges
at its core. Let’s face it. Someone
has to keep the professional goals of the technically minded aimed at the right
target or they’d end up building brilliant machines that do amazingly expensive
things that, well, might not perfectly serve the customer or the bottom line.
Ultimately Mr. Silva expressed his appreciation for the event and how valuable
he felt it was.

The symposium was not just about work,
though. After a person has visited several mountain ranges around the
continent, it’s difficult to rank them. Suffice to say, the views at Sun Valley
are as uniquely beautiful as the rest. And as a business, the resort provides
an impressive variety of activities and hospitality accommodations, including
an ice rink, a shooting range, bowling, and a wide range of fine dining
options.

No matter how much both Sun Valley and
Telluride were adored, variety is at the root of inspiration. Year three of the
Mountain Technology Symposium will take place at Jay Peak Resort in Vermont.
2019’s location has all the needed facilities and conveniences, as well as a
full stack of bonus optional activities. The proximity to hundreds of hotel
rooms, a reasonable drive to the Burlington airport, multiple linked conference
rooms in walking distance from lodging should provide exemplary accommodations.
To top off the experience, plenty of dining options, an 18 hole golf course,
self-belay climbing for any skill level, and the Clips & Reels movie
theater, the Pump House Water Park for all ages and categories of humans! It’s
a good thing ski resort staff know how to balance work and fun.

After observing and experiencing the freshman and sophomore years of the Mountain Technology Symposium, including front row seats as a committee member myself, I’m not sure the junior year will be perfect. But I’m predicting it will be close. Don’t miss out! Keep an eye on mountainsymposium.com for updates on details. See you in October!

2019 MTS annual event venue announced

We are thrilled to be back for yet another year of tech talks, presentations, and peer networking. The 2019 Mountain Technology Symposium event will be held at Jay Peak Resort Start making your annual budgeting and scheduling plans now to attend the Fall event from October 2nd through October 4th 2019. The event continues to grow in popularity each year and this year is shaping up to be better than ever.
Mountain Symposium is the best event in North America for mountain resort technology vendors, managers, operators, and marketers to get together to deep dive into the latest in technology and innovation.

MTS to partner with NSAA

The Steering Committee at Mountain Technology Symposium (MTS) and the Marketing and Communications team at the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) have agreed to form a partnership to help support the MTS event and the groups and leadership that shape, expand, and evolve technology in ski and mountain recreation industries.
Look for the Mountain Technology Symposium booth at the Spring 2019 NSAA conference held April 29th through May 2nd at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront in San Diego, California.