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Innovating and Implementing Technologies is the Way Forward

By Land Carlo Cagalingan, CIO, Robinsons Corporation

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Land Carlo Cagalingan, CIO, Robinsons Corporation

On the age of ready information, ignorance is  now a choice. Hoteliers cannot ignore the new  trends in technology - now, more than ever.  The first step is a mind shift, from the traditional  and conventional to the radical. The likes of  Air BnB will eat us up if we do not innovate.  We need to be like these newcomers who use  technology passionately. Cloud computing, as it  is, is a remarkable concept in technology. I am part  of the sector of IT leaders who are wary of such  and still prefer the traditional approach - setting  up mostly on-premise systems. The hospitality  industry however can benefit from this setup  when hotels want to build operations quickly  with a minimum amount of capital expenditure.  Cloud computing also promises accurate data  across platforms for the customer. Most cloud  providers offer services for any device and for  any location where there is Internet connectivity.

"The seamless integration of in the cloud could offer more accessibility for both employees and guests"

 When we need to talk about technology,  CRM and Business Intelligence are the two  key components that have to be utilized more  effectively to explore better business outcomes.  So, placing these two techniques in the cloud  could offer more accessibility for both employees  and guests. Seamless integration with front desk  application down to concierge would get this act right. A good CRM lets the business review customer behavior, offer  rewards, and keep track of customer  preferences. However, most CRMs  have this chink in the armor when the guest is already in front of the check-in counter - the front desk personnel needs to update theCRM, the front desk and the property management system. A system that integrates these would do wonders in customer check-in experience.Guests will always find the most value for money and at the right location. These information needs to be present or readily available in every marketing channel enabled by technology. A good SEO and marketing partnerships is key.We need to make the information about our hotels more concise and attractive to our customers.

For the Philippines, the key differentiator of the hospitality industry will be the internet speed and overall experience when one uses the internet inside the hotel. I see the battle to be is who can offer the fastest and most reliable guest

Wi-Fi. There is a huge challenge locally on internet bandwidth pricing and we only offer a few MBPS to each guest, sometimes even lower at peak occupancy. Hotels will need to increase bandwidth soon. Room costing with  drastically change if Telco pricing doesn't change.

However, increasing bandwidth will not solve the problem. The need  will increase proportionally with the increase in bandwidth. Guests will never get enough. The key here is a good bandwidth manager that IT can control depending on demands.

Evaluating the Technology Challenges that Lies Ahead

I didn't see any drastic change in my  role as CIO. It has always been an  innovator and business support pillar of the company. Always listening to the business strategies and what IT can do to enable and support these strategies.

In the past two years though saw a role that’s being more stringent in terms of cost controls and being cautious on innovations. The best technology may be right for a competitor but not with us. The role has been more "wait-and-see" rather than be the first to innovate or implement. Big budgets don't mean freedom on expenditures; each peso must have the best return. The delays in the procurement process are worth the wait.

You are what you settle for. What define you as a leader are the choices and decisions that you make.The success of your organization depends on what its leaders settle for. In my years as an IT leader I've had  many regrets in the choices I've made. The only  way that you  settle for the right decision is when you've made enough mistakes that you would know the right one. Do not be afraid to make mistakes. To ease this fright, be ready with the  consequences and be ready for  mitigation plans if your plans didn't pan out as expected.

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