CIO Summit Review: Seattle, Washington

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November 12, 2018
CIO Summit Review
Mark Fancourt

©2018 Hospitality Upgrade
This work may not be reprinted, redistributed or repurposed without written consent.
For permission requests, call 678.802.5302 or email info@hospitalityupgrade.com.

During a warm and sunny post-Labor Day week, the technology leadership of North American hospitality convened for Hospitality Upgrade’s 17th annual CIO Summit.
 
This year’s destination was Seattle, an apt location for a gathering of senior technologists, and one of the most influentialtechnology cities in the world, considering its direct impact on many people’s daily lives. Seattle brings to the forefront global technology brands like Amazon, Microsoft, EMC and F5 as well as major consumer and lifestyle brands, like Starbucks and Nordstrom. And, of course, there are companies that are making direct impact on travel as a vertical like Expedia, Alaska Airlines and Boeing.

Program planning began months ago. It not only captured input from the advisory council but also included a formal dive into some of the discussion topics raised at last year’s event as well as topics integral to my own CIO journey. This year, the program was developed around four main pillars:

1.Leadership and personal development
2.Technology strategy as a platform for success
3.The business impact of technology
4. Private exposé into specific technology disciplines 

Since I’m not originally from the United States, I took an international approach to the program. Along with representation from the CIOs’ own peer group for key topics, we were joined by speakers from Seattle, New York, Denver, Los Angeles and Houston as well as international guests from Melbourne, Australia and Lausanne, Switzerland.

As an industry block, this year’s CIO Summit represented 100 countries, 36,000 properties, 750,000 hospitality staff, 300,000 desktops, 130,000 installations of business applications and 7,600 hospitality technology staff.
 
As not everyone can attend the CIO Summit, we’ve provided a summary of speaker presentations.
 
The Yin and Yang of Technology Leadership
Dr. Marianne Broadbent
Managing Partner | NGS Global
 
The quantum of change being driven by digital disruption demands a rapid evolution of leadership capabilities and behaviors at all levels – otherwise we will not achieve the transformation our organizations are seeking. While the digital and technology challenges and choices can be confounding, it is what we call the “analog” challenges where most significant shifts, or attempted shifts in services, customer engagement, processes or market positioning usually come unstuck. We need transformative leaders to transform business and services.
 
Transformative leaders take on three journeys concurrently. First, they become comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty themselves, and are then able to communicate the context of change and do some “sense making” for others. The second area where they distinguish themselves is their ability to embrace leadership as a team sport and put in concentrated and productive efforts to build effective teams. The third aspect is a more personal one: they continue to grow and evolve through curiosity, passion, self-awareness and willingness to invite challenges and feedback – and to learn from this.
 
Trust. Effective and agile teams can get things done more quickly because they have built a stronger sense of trust between and among their peers and team members. Trust is more than a social virtue; in the words of Stephen M.R. Covey, it is an economic value. Trust takes time and effort to build but becomes the foundation of effective teaming. Trust is built through building up your knowedge of, and belief in, another person’s (or team’s) character and competence. Character is based on your belief in their good intent, that is, that they mean to do the right thing, and in their integrity, they do what they say they are going to do. It is worth asking ourselves: do we display good intent, and do we always do what we say we are going to do? Do we give others evidence and reason to trust us?
 
The second part of trust is our belief in the competence of others: do we believe they are capable, and do they really deliver the results we need? To be trusted, we also need to extend trust to others – it has to be earned and it is at least partly a reciprocal attribute.
 
Great leaders are continuous learners. They know they don’t have to be the smartest people in the room. It is about getting work done through and with others – engaging effectively, being open to feedback, and seeking real diversity of thought and experience in those around you. The analog factor in achieving digital transformation is underpinned by the ability of leaders to know, deal with and manage ourselves thoughtfully, as it is about how we work with and lead others.
 
Dealing with Unexpected Change
Greg Duff
Principal and Chair | Hospitality Travel & Tourism practice group, Garvey Schubert Barer
 
Every relationship has its challenges – some expected and some not. This is especially true of relationships hoteliers maintain with their critical technology providers. Acquisitions, defaults, bankruptcies, key personnel turnover, infringement claims and data breaches affect every relationship at some point. While each vendor and circumstance is different, there are a number of things hoteliers can do to minimize the effect of these inevitable challenges.
 
Anticipate reasonably foreseeable challenges and their effects at the time of entering into the relationship. This doesn’t mean addressing every possible plague, famine or form of natural disaster. The key here is identifying realistic challenges (those that you or other industry members may have actually suffered) and the likely effects of those challenges on your business. Be specific. If you expect certain disaster recovery protocols to
be taken by a vendor, ensure that such protocols are available, consistent with your expectations and actually tested from time to time (with the result of those tests being provided to you). Experience has shown that transition is key following any significant challenge – transition from one vendor to its acquirer, transition from vendor to bankruptcy trustee or transition from infringing product or solution to a non-infringing product or solution.  
 
Respond appropriately upon becoming aware of the vendor’s challenge. That first notice – whether in anticipation of the event (upcoming acquisition) or following the event (data breach) - is the hotelier’s call to action. Who do you call first - vendor, insurance broker, replacement vendor, public relations firm or legal counsel? The answer will vary by event.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Enough said.

Following conclusion of the challenge (with the benefit of hindsight), re-evaluate what could (or should) have been done differently and consider what you might change next time. These changes may include reconsideration of doing business with vendors with known challenges (data security), doubling vendor due diligence efforts prior to entering into a relationship, re-evaluation of standard contractual provisions to provide broader or more practical remedies, or mandating particular responses and communication methods and timelines when the next challenge arises.
 
Hear Voices! So Many Voices ...
Andrew Arthurs
SVP and CIO | Two Roads Hospitality
Christian Cooper
Vice President of Information Technology | Dream Hotels Group
 
Next we heard from Two Roads Hospitality Chief Information Officer Andrew Arthurs, who took the stage with Christian Cooper, VP of IT for Dream Hotel Group. The duo talked about their respective experiences in launching voice technology at hotel properties in their portfolios.
 
Arthurs reminded us that Alexa is still a toddler despite the explosive growth and adoption of consumer voice technology and devices. We are in the very early days of learning how this guest-facing technology will play a role in improving guest service and growing revenue, which he believes will be big wins for the hospitality industry. “Many of our guests have voice-enabled experiences at home and they are coming to expect the same conveniences when they visit our properties. Since launching Alexa at two properties in our portfolio, we have heard positive feedback from guests who ask Alexa about the hotel and ask her to order amenities, control the TV and play music,” said Arthurs.
 
Two Roads Hospitality sees more compelling cases where voice control and automation will enhance the guest experience, increase productivity and drive revenue by providing services like in-room dining, concierge requests, transportation and activity bookings. The potential of voice only gets greater as Alexa grows up and continues to hone her skills for hospitality by being contextually aware of her location and surroundings.
Two Roads Hospitality recently partnered with Amazon and Volara to launch the largest single-property deployment of Amazon Echo devices using natural language intent at the Motif Seattle, the location of the 2018 CIO Summit. Conference guests tested Alexa in their rooms and were treated to a personalized greeting from Hospitality Upgrade Publisher Rich Siegel upon their arrival. As you would expect with a group of CIOs, there was no shortage of feedback on how we can take the voice experience to the next level.
 
Got Data? A Journey Through GDPR Compliance
Christopher Ahlgrim
Regional Head of Development | Global Hotel Alliance
 
Providing perspective from the Global Hotel Alliance (GHA) and the process of deploying data management to support the European Union’s recently introduced privacy laws, Christopher Ahlgrim tackled GDPR.
 
The challenge. The GHA needed to cleanse and standardize data for its Discovery loyalty program with more than 12 million members and customers, and more broadly to standardize the communication and execution process for GDPR across the alliance’s 33 hotel brands spanning 500 hotels across 77 countries. Each member brand has its own entity with operations in every corner of the world.
 
After the introduction of the law, surprisingly the experience resulted in a low attrition rate of customers choosing to remove information from the system (GHA has received fewer than 100 of these requests since May 25). The key takeaway from the session is the immediate need for specific consent related to communication and storage of personal information. The GHA addressed this by splitting the opt-in function between key information regarding reservations and membership communication, and the broader enrollment as a member with the terms and conditions required by that membership.
 
What can your organization do:

  • Hire a Data Protection Officer

  • Map your data flow

  • Review all points of data collection and storage

  • Ensure your collecting consent and documenting

  • Have a process in place in the event of deletion or breach

  • Train your staff

  • Make it part of your process (think credit card numbers!) 

For more information on GDPR refer to earlier articles from Hospitality Upgrade - https://www. hospitalityupgrade.com/techTalk/May-2018/The-Top-5-GDPR-List-for-Hoteliers
 
The Real Threat — Who Is Coming for Your Data and How They Plan to Get It
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Seattle Branch Office
 
The CIO Summit was fortunate to be joined by representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) who provided a fascinating and insightful exposé of the world of computer espionage and data theft. The session provided a real view of the scale and sophistication of organizations that are built deliberately to steal information from businesses.
 
The subject matter does not allow us to reproduce the content from the session. However, the thrust of the presentation clearly demonstrated that the threat is real, and the hospitality industry is a genuine target based on the type of customers and events regularly serviced by our industry.
 
The session inspired a thought – who might be interested in the gathering of many of the hospitality industries top CIOs in a room for three days …
It is clear that the FBI takes the topic of data security and theft very seriously. More importantly, the FBI is actively engaged with the business sector and has specific divisions to work with industries to identify and apprehend (or stifle) these organizations on a global scale.
 
The FBI recommends engaging with your local FBI office to build a relationship prior to any security event. The information the hospitality industry can provide actively assists with the FBI’s ongoing investigations.
 
Get involved with the Federal Bureau of Investigation outreach program at www.infragard.com.
 
Cultivating the Next Generation: Education for the Future Hospitality IT Leadership
Ian Millar 
Manager | Institute of Business Creativity and Senior Lecturer, Ecole Hotelier de Lausanne

The modern younger learner is looking for an “on the go” mobile learning experience. Video plays a major part in education, and tools that allow for instant learning as well as instant feedback resonate with today’s students. Online education is quickly becoming the normal. Hotel training programs and management trainee programs will have to change to attract these new employees into the business.
 
Generation Z:                     
The post-millennial generation is more complex than the millennials and has an obsession with mobile. They spend on average three hours a day watching mobile videos. This generation has grown up with Google and feels the need to know everything right away. Technology tools hotels provide for daily work will need to adapt. This will more than likely be in the format of mobile. However, one problem remains – the acceptance of technology use in front of guests.
If the hospitality industry wishes to remain attractive to the younger generation, it will need to provide a better technology experience to employees. Already there are barriers to why people do not wish to pursue a career in hospitality. Technology could help – from operational performance to employee education, we have many possibilities to implement technology into the working lives of employees. Hotels that make the first step will have a competitive advantage over others, and the talented younger generation will actively look for these hotels.

Come Fly IT, Let’s Fly IT Away!
Duane Wehking
Vice President IT&DA | Boeing Global Services (and Ken Shaw, VP of Supply Chain, Boeing)
 
After a particularly heavy day of educational content, the attendees were rewarded by the unique experience of a private tour and dinner at Boeing’s manufacturing plant and private airstrip outside Seattle. Here we were exposed to the construction processes for the
 
Dreamliner 747s, which continue to be manufactured today, as well as the new 777. The scale of the operation at Boeing is difficult to fathom. The building alone can house more than 90 NFL football fields!
 
For a group of technologists, some of whom run some of the largest hotel company technology infrastructures in the world, this was exposure to industry on an entirely different scale and welcomed highly by the audience, as generally our CIO community relishes learning about other industries.
 
We were just getting warmed up! With some aerial acrobatics by Rich Siegel himself and the unique opportunity to see one of the four DreamLifters (the aircraft that ferry airplane parts around the world from various plants for the Dreamliner), we settled in to the closing dinner inside the museum hangar looking over the airstrip.
 
The final educational treat was delivered by Ken Shaw and Duane Wehking, who joined us for dinner and proceeded to provide the CIOs with an exposure to the scale of technology operations and logistics that make Boeing tick. Ken and Duane’s candid conversation was highly entertaining. A well-practiced duet on delivering key information about their scope of work in a light, casual and cleverly amusing manner. All were enlightened, impressed and, dare I say it, awed by the scale of this global organization.
 
Boeing is in the middle of a major organizational project and moving toward its 2025 goals to operate as one Boeing, build strength-on-strength and sharpen and accelerate to win. It was
a demonstration of the importance of business and technology strategy, supporting one of the key pillars of the 2018 CIO Summit.
 
Some nuggets about their technology operations that will blow your mind:

  • $14.6 billion U.S. in revenues (global defense, space and commercial)

  • $600 million U.S. technology budget

  • 6,000 technology employees across 24 countries

  • 31,000 SharePoint team sites

  • 174,000 desktops and laptops

  • 61,000 mobile devices

  • 1.2 million WebEx meetings

  • 1.7 billion suspicious emails blocked

 
The Future of Flight experience will soon be closed due to national requirements for the airport location. As one of the last groups to experience this level of exposure, it was a real coup for our group to have such a wonderful opportunity.
 
Thanks for Flying ...
 
By all accounts this year’s CIO Summit exceeded expectations. The range of the event was wide, including networking opportunities, entertainment, activities, experiencing sights of Seattle and the educational content provided for the attendees. The verbal and written feedback points emphasized the conference as being a valuable and important industry meeting. Moreover, feedback indicates we’re headed in the right direction for the future of the peer group we serve.
 
A standout was the team-building exercise where CIOs foraged across the Seattle region for ingredients by plane, train and automobile, and went to team cooking school with renowned chef Tom Douglas. For those not familiar with Seattle, Tom is “Mr. Food” in that part of the world. See pages 68-69 for pictures.
 
Never tackled before on that scale by Tom and his team, the event was a highlight of the summit and saw the CIOs working collaboratively to prepare dishes that would compete for the coveted “Dish of the Day,” as selected by Tom. Bonding, teamwork, camaraderie, shared achievements, food and beverage and some healthy competition proved a brilliant method to get the group in the right mood for the rest of the event. The collective meal was a first-class dining experience paired with wines from Washington state.

My personal observation: the audience indicated that despite a packed program, the most important aspect of the event is peer communication, dialogue and building connections.
 
Having sat in the CIO chair in previous careers, I can vouch for the value of communicating with people who face the same challenges or have overcome some of the challenges that individual technology leaders and their organizations are encountering along their journey of technology journey.
 
It’s easy to get bogged down in the daily grind of leading a technology organization in the
hospitality industry. The CIO Summit provides technology leaders with the opportunity to retreat, reflect and learn together in an environment where fellow attendees understand the challenges and share experiences and advice.
 
For my part, I was delighted to be involved with the event, and as a former
CIO, felt particularly privileged to prepare an educational program with a personal slant for such a talented group of hoteliers and technologists with some of the toughest roles in the industry. I thank the presenters who took time out of their schedules to travel the globe and share insights with the audience.
 
My advice: if you receive a phone call next July or August extending an invitation to attend the CIO Summit, I recommend that you accept!
 
We thank all the CIOs who attended. Thank you to our sponsors for allowing us to pull together such a wonderful event: Blueprint RF, Comcast, Edge Communications, Infor, POST Integrations, Sabre, and our transportation sponsors Amadeus, Cendyn, Datavision and VENZA.





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