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Designing Delivery by Jeff Sussna

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Chapter 12. Promising a Good Night’s Sleep: The Digitally Infused Hotel

Hotels are services with which we all are familiar. The hotel industry makes an ideal case study for illustrating the application of promise theory to real-world businesses. At first blush, a hotel is a very physical service. It involves buildings, rooms, elevators, lobbies, desk agents, and maid service. We think of a hotel as being about people and architecture. Now, though, we’re entering the age when you can use your watch to unlock your hotel room door. Hotels thus are becoming deeply digitally infused.

Even the watch itself is an infused object. Traditionally, watches are very physical things. They’re heavy; you wrap them around your wrist; they’re full of gears and make ticking noises. Now, though, watches have become computers.

Infusion impacts the hotel experience even without Dick Tracy–style watches. We take it for granted that we can reserve a room over the Internet. We expect to be able to check out using the television in our room. Promise theory’s domain-independence makes it as useful for modeling services—such as hotels, which cross human, physical, and technical boundaries—as for modeling pure software services.

Infusion is not just superficial. It pervades all levels of a service such as a hotel. We can see this phenomenon at work by revisiting the hotel scenario in more detail. As we do, we’ll notice that its promises don’t necessarily break out along traditional organizational silos, nor ...

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