The elegance of simple solutions

By Larry Velez, Sinu co-founder & CTO

In our new world of connectivity, where the Internet of Everything provides us with the opportunity to control our home’s temperature from work and watch our pets on our smartphones while we are away, I sometimes like to step back and take inventory of what really gets the job done. And sometimes, I find, simpler really is better.

Now, I love the latest technology and inventions and how all of it can come together with a simple elegance. That is what I stay up thinking about at night – how the myriad of ever-changing technology can come together to create an elegant, seamless solution for people to make their lives and jobs easier.

But it’s easy to get distracted by the noise – the greatest, shiniest new solution that promises more of, well, everything, and often turns our attention away from the proven solution that just does a better job…simply.

As an example, look at seatbelts. This is simple technology introduced as standard equipment in cars in the 1960s, and few developments to this technology have been made over the past two decades. Yet, use of seatbelts increases your chance of surviving a crash by about 50%. The introduction of airbags, a newer, more complex and costly technology (on average it costs about $3,000-$5,000 to replace them after a collision), increases chances of survival to only 54% when used with seatbelts. (From National Center for Statistics and Analysis, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Used alone, the effectiveness of airbags in preventing fatalities is only about 14%.

Add even newer, pricier technologies that promise to help us humans avoid collisions. For example, collision-avoidance systems including radar, cameras, ultrasound and lidar are now available in many cars, with more on the horizon. Global sales of anti-crash sensors will total $9.90 billion in 2020 – up from $3.94 billion in 2014, predicts IHS Automotive, a research firm based in suburban Detroit. While there is some evidence that these technologies do help prevent collisions, it seems there is still no replacement for the effectiveness of the basic seatbelt.

There are many parallels in business technology. For instance, you could have all the encryption on your hard drives but your team is using ‘baseball’ as a password. Studies show that 80% of all data breaches are caused by weak passwords. This is by far our weakest link to data security. It’s like relying on airbags without using the seatbelt. No doubt encryption, like airbags, increases the effectiveness of securing your data when used with good passwords, but the seatbelt is by far is the easiest and most effective way to improve the odds of surviving a car crash. Sometimes it’s easy to get distracted by the noise – the effective marketing and the shiny new gadget featured on the nightly news. Once in a while it is good to step back, and remember that sometimes the simple solution can provide the best results.