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Part Two: The Role of On Demand Workplaces

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October 01, 2005
On Demand | Workplace
Amitava Chatterjee, CHTP - amitava.chatterjee@us.ibm.com
BobBunzey- rbunzey@us.ibm.com

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© 2005 Hospitality Upgrade. No reproduction without written permission.

The second in a two-part series, this article discussed two applications of on demand workplaces in a hospitality environment.

Part one of this two-part series explored the role of on demand workplaces. Key takeaways included the concept of using an on demand workplace (ODW) portal-based framework at an enterprise level, providing user-centric application access through multiple devices within an enterprise. The use of new collaboration and information access and distribution tools for bringing the enterprise closer were also discussed.

This article addresses how an ODW framework may be utilized to align business strategy with performance within a hospitality environment, and how dashboards and integrated collaboration tools may dramatically improve business performance. Hospitality companies, typically complex enterprises with extended value chains, need to be able to:

  • Align business strategy into appropriate activities and roll-up insights to improve performance.
  • Monitor and measure performance with actionable scorecards and in-context dashboards.
  • Provide drill-down ability into relevant and actionable business data and key performance indicators (KPIs).
  • Share performance information quickly and concisely.
  • Bridge performance gaps with a complete set of tools to reach organizational goals.
  • Increase visibility across functions to better predict, prevent and resolve issues.
  • Work smarter by focusing on the activities that can make a difference.
  • Effectively communicate and take action on priorities.
Business Strategy Is Often Disconnected from the Workforce
Overarching hospitality business strategies are often created at the executive level, occasionally with assistance from external consulting organizations. How those strategies are communicated and incorporated into the remainder of the extended enterprise can affect the overall outcome and achievement of these goals. In a typical enterprise, only a small percentage of the workforce may actually understand the overall company objectives, and an even smaller subset aligns its own work goals with corporate targets. If key stakeholders comprising employees and business partners such as franchisees (and their organizations) have not formally accepted and integrated these strategies into their own measurements, they will not be thinking of these objectives as they carry out day-to-day tasks. This can lead to disjointed or uncoordinated implementation of business strategies across a hospitality enterprise. In addition, teams may not have visibility into how their work affects others within the company.

When discussing corporate strategies and objectives, it is important to understand the importance of organizational information. All hospitality companies have a deluge of data from powerful back-end systems such as CRS, PMS and RMS, in addition to more informal and subjective data in the form of word processing software, e-mail and calendaring. The power of this information is putting it into the context of the larger enterprise goals and making it meaningful and actionable. An enterprise can spend significant time and IT resources making sense of this information and putting it into useful context for brands, divisions, departments, franchises and all levels of management. This can be an expensive undertaking.

Hospitality Companies Can Better Align Employees, Strategy and Execution
Mechanisms are needed to better align stakeholders within an enterprise with overall corporate objectives. These objectives need to be broken down into manageable and actionable tasks for each part of the organization. Next, it is important to be able to roll out these objectives to the right teams for execution. This enables the linkage of appropriate business objectives across business units and provides stakeholders with the ability to create dependencies that give everyone responsibilities to work together to meet company objectives. Once objectives and tasks are set up, hospitality companies can:
  • Tap into collected data to see if objectives are being met.
  • Track performance against objectives.
  • Manage initiatives to achieve the objectives.
  • Achieve a clear line of sight and buy in from every level of the organization.
  • Take action when issues arise.

It is important to do this efficiently and effectively through a single point of personalized interaction with applications, content, processes and people, for a unified user experience. This provides a user-friendly interface for stakeholders to take action.

Executive Dashboards for Everyone
In many organizations, executives have enjoyed scorecards and dashboards that provide accurate views into corporate performance and progress. In the past, it has taken intense, personalized IT support to provide executives with this type of information. It just wasn’t cost effective to give all of a company’s employees the same powerful tools. Now it is reasonably easy to provide these powerful tools to any employee in an organization, based on his or her role. The time is ripe for hospitality enterprises to provide their stakeholders with role-configurable dashboards.

Communication of top-level strategic priorities is often seen as a barrier to effective execution. Can employees articulate the corporate strategy, and can they clearly see how their tasks and activities are helping execute that strategy? Tools are available now which allow business leaders, either executive management or a divisional leader, to define those objectives and disseminate them through the organization to provide alignment, consistency and clarity to each area of the business.

Software packages that use a series of intuitive and customizable scorecards and dashboards to allow employees at any level to gauge their progress against strategic objectives, complete with the ability to drill down and gain detail where appropriate, are available. Users establish objectives that can be easily tracked using key performance indicators and metrics extracted directly from any number of back-end systems, using new integration capability, or, if there are concerns about slowing down transaction processing system response times, using a centralized data warehouse. Each objective has a target and a data source and can be divided up and passed down through the organization with appropriate ownership to ensure organizational alignment and focus. By linking these scorecards to operational dashboards that show the detailed data driving a specific business objective, individuals throughout a hospitality enterprise will better understand the strategic context surrounding operational data.

The Best Tools at the Right Time
Enterprise objectives can have supporting initiatives or activities that are meant to support it. Aligning these initiatives to the strategic objectives ensures that the right activities are being pursued to execute the enterprise strategy. Additionally, each objective can be viewed through a number of intuitive and interesting formats including through a scorecard and a status map to help gauge progress and potential pitfalls. A status map allows a business leader to see all of the defined dependencies — upstream and downstream — that will affect the successful achievement of a business objective. Seeing these dependencies clearly and having integrated tools to take action will help employees see and solve potential business problems faster.

Identifying potential problems in execution is only part of the battle. What happens next? Integrated collaboration tools are designed for action — both through the ability to interact directly with back-end systems and to quickly locate and communicate with teams throughout the enterprise—solving problems more efficiently.

A Solution for a Business or Department of Any Size
Implementation of these systems provides the ability to serve a wide range of needs — from integrating directly with back-end data using standards or pulling information from spreadsheets. A true on demand business is one that can respond immediately to threats or business challenges and that can adapt dynamically to ensure performance. Use of the on demand workplace framework, dashboards and integrated collaborative tools empowers users to quickly identify those challenges and provides the tools necessary to respond accordingly.

Amitava Chatterjee, CHTP (amitava.chatterjee@us.ibm.com) is a senior consultant with IBM Business Consulting Services’ Travel and Transportation, Hospitality and Travel-related Services industry, based in Fairfax, Virginia. Bob Bunzey (rbunzey@us.ibm.com) is a Global Solutions Executive with IBM Sales and Distribution, On Demand Workplace, based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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