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Which Technology Best Suits the Hospitality Sector?
By Jessie Burgess, Executive Vice President, CIO, G6 Hospitality LLC
A big challenge in technology within the hospitality industry right now is balancing the timing to deploy guest-facing technology versus back-of-the-house technology enhancements—which are often less visible to the guests. No one has unlimited budget or people resources, so opportunity costs must be weighed with every technology-focused decision. Often, the technological enhancements that are the least flashy deliver the largest ROI and long-term benefit to the organization. We know, however, that we have to balance this drive for efficiency with changes in technology that can enhance people’s experiences.
If I had a wish list for our technology providers, it would generally include easily accessible, highly-available, cloud-based services that scale in price and delivery based on our demand. This would all be delivered in a secure environment that seamlessly integrates real time data collection for analysis and robust monitoring capability. In addition, we need our technology providers to build and deploy their software within an architecture that allows modular flexibility to plug in or unplug specific components of their software suite as business needs change. In order to achieve this, these providers would need to ensure their contract terms are also structured in a fashion that allows this flexibility for the customer.
Organizations have to integrate data across the enterprise to have a 360-degree view of the customer, but it’s not an easy thing to do. What are your thoughts on getting this act right?
Gaining a 360-degree view of your customer is complex and potentially very expensive, but the returns can be tremendous when you get it right. Just like most things that are complex with many possibilities for missteps, you should have a clear and realistic set of expectations and timeline. This allows you to be strategic about what you implement early on and where returns can be gained as you take more time to build and add complimenting components. Whatever depth you decide to go in your 360-degree efforts, do your best to extract return as early as possible while being very deliberate on how fast you expand.
If I had a wish list for our technology providers, it would generally include easily accessible, highly-available, cloud-based services that scale in price and delivery based on our demand
What specific types of technology will give leaders/ players within your industry the competitive edge?
I think cloud, business intelligence, and IoT will have a significant impact in providing a competitive edge within our industry. Leaders that have a well-defined, thoughtful strategy in these areas may be able to get ahead of the game. The cloud environment, when utilized correctly, extends your reach and flexibility in ways that were unheard of a few years ago. You can take advantage of the economies of scale in processing, storage and connectivity, while still remaining elastic in your level of ongoing investment. Business intelligence, often fueled by big data, allows you to better understand what’s going on with your customers, your systems and your environment as a whole—facilitating a more sure approach to business strategies and better anticipation of results. Lastly, IoT will, more often than not, utilize the strength of a cloud back end to feed additional data points to your BI platforms, allowing for enhanced analysis and control capabilities.
Despite the advancement in technology and availability of some cool technology solutions, there isn't a day when we can say ‘all is fine.’ There are several pain points within the enterprise for which solutions do not exist yet. In your business environment what are some of the solutions which are not available or not up to the mark and if available, would have made your job easier. Can you share 1-2 things on what keeps you awake at night?
One challenging area is security. Information technology security is a multifaceted area that requires a myriad of approaches and layers to those approaches. The landscape is always evolving and you’re never “done” with the effort. With new threats come new awareness, new requirements, new tools, new standards, and the cycle continue. With this said, the costs continue to grow in direct correlation with this increasingly-complex landscape. The second challenge is the increasing demand for “always on” services. With higher service interoperability and more service-providers delivering via cloud platforms, some of your legacy platforms running on your traditional architecture have a hard time keeping up. Our internal IT customers and consumers in general are demanding more real-time services with rapid enhancements—quickly exposing the shortcomings of some legacy platforms. All of a sudden, the traditional “maintenance window” for the infrastructure team and longer release cycles for the development team are things of the past. While this new environment is challenging, it creates tremendous opportunities to help advance your business.
There are several technology trends which you perhaps would be observing (big data, social media, mobile, cloud, IoT). Can you share with us 1-2 trends that will have significant impact on your enterprise business environment and your industry.
With so much technology emerging and growing, (big data, social media, mobile, cloud, IoT), there are really no bad guesses as to which will have the greater impact. Once properly fit into your strategy and properly utilized, any of these could change your organization for the better. For G6 Hospitality, the cloud will have a significant impact. We’re near completion of a full cloud-based property management system rollout with HotelKey. In addition, we’re in the early stages of a project to move our entire central reservations system platform to the cloud. The cloud will help us better achieve core business objectives while also delivering a reduced footprint, consolidated management capabilities, high scalability, and higher predictability. I also believe IoT will have a big impact on the hospitality industry as a whole. We’ve only begun to scratch the surface when it comes to the potential capabilities and efficiencies to be gleaned from this technology.