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Mobility: The Biggest Technology Challenge Today
By Eric Rosenzweig, CIO, Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp
The benefit of Cloud Computing for the travel and hospitality industry works in a fashion similar to most other industries. It is easy to implement, simplifies the choice of partners and at Garden Fresh, Cloud Computing has been adopted in several ways. We selected Google Apps for Business to promote collaboration within our organization and we are just starting Software as a Service (SaaS) implementation of CrunchTime! for restaurant operations. Additionally we’ll be looking to implement Oracle Fusion for HCM as SaaS this year. We have also successfully used Google’s Compute Engine for hosting of our internal restaurant Portal. Cloudbased services, which give businesses an opportunity to use technology in a way that eliminates the cost, overhead and human capital required for servers and databases, making it possible to create business value in a faster time frame.
Understand the Essence of the Data
In order to efficiently consolidate and integrate data it is essential to know what you want to do with this data and not get hung up on technology. To drive sales you need a better understanding of the guests—their likes and dislikes.
A lot of companies don’t collect this information which is the most vital factor in moving a business forward. What becomes important is to take a step back and define the essence of the problem first and then figure out how to address the specific issues. Just collecting data for data’s sake, hoping this will result in an answer, is not generally a productive approach.
Evolve with Customers’ Needs
As digital becomes more prevalent, it is important to keep an eye on which devices and methods customers are using to communicate with the industry.
Regardless of which method the consumers choose to use, whether it is the internet, telephone or tablet, the bottom line is that the service provided should be in sync with the customer’s needs. This information can also be utilized to help with the design of applications and interactions. Understanding how customers use your website, your call center and developing applications that are flexible enough to adapt with new technology becomes of prime importance for anyone in the hospitality industry.
Cloud technology is allowing for rapid test and deployment in a way that simply wasn’t accessible in the past
Personalized Service as Reward
The rewards or tools offered to a customer should align with how you want your customers to interact and experience the brand. If a customer prefers a certain floor during their stay, then it becomes a matter of paying attention and offering the same floor during their next visit. Looking out for customer needs is much larger than satisfying any rewards program. A personalized and tailored service suiting a consumer’s requests reflects on the effort and involvement of the hotel, not only on an exterior level but also on a more individual scale.
Expectation from Technology Advancements
The biggest technology challenge today Is Mobility. How you enhance the experience for a customer through his mobile device must be a prime focus. Today people are collecting more data and trying to make it meaningful. A comprehensive analysis of the data that will work for the hotel industry is what you should expect from the on-going technological advancements.
Social Media Overtakes Surveys
Understanding a guest better through guest interactions or using text analytics to determine customer opinions has moved to the forefront. With the advent of social media platforms like Facebook and Yelp there is ample data available to consumers and no longer must we rely solely on surveys.
Another point of consideration is how we as a national chain communicate a very local feeling to our guests. Personalized care can influence consumers to such a powerful extent that the guest forms a loyalty pattern because of the comfort level created for them during their stay.
CIOs as Collaborator
In the past we were the ones looking for technology and bringing it to the business. In today’s world, business is bringing technology directly to us. My team and I collaborate with all areas of the business to help them understand the pros and cons of technology and how new technology integrates into other areas of the business like finance and operations.
While we are still being forward in our thinking, when it comes to technology, we can’t lock ourselves into a solution that may not grow with us. A CIO plays both an advisory and implementation role. He or she needs to be more agile and aware of new technology than ever before, given the rapid changes in the marketplace.
CIOs as Part of the Business
We need to view ourselves as part of the business, and as a CIO be involved with the business as much as possible. It is vital to be a good collaborator and listener and to be able to find solutions, either technical or operational that solve business challenges. CIOs and IT departments need to be flexible as businesses test different things. Fortunately, Cloud technology is allowing for rapid test and deployment in a way that simply wasn’t accessible in the past. I don’t think any
CIO wants to be looked at as just a technology person. A CIO should position themselves as a business person first, and that can be done when they bring their technological expertise to the table in a collaborative and solutions-oriented way.
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