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The Biggest Challenges CIOs Are Facing

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October 01, 2012
CIO Column: What Keeps Me up at Night
Kylie McKlveen

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At Hospitality Upgrade’s CIO Summit last month, the closing informative session featured a question-and-answer-style segment between the CIOs of the hotel brands, management companies and ownership groups. These Q&As touched on the challenges that CIOs from a variety of companies (and furthermore, a variety of size, luxury and location) face now and into the future. In addition to this compelling session, throughout the summit, HU polled the audience of CIOs to gain greater perspective into the challenges that CIOs are facing today  – and more specifically, the top three challenges. The answers poured in and covered several different hot topics from compliance and security to mobility and even extending into the personal balancing act of life and business as usual of a CIO.

Hands down, the most frequently mentioned issue that CIOs are currently concerned with is compliance. Ken Barnes, vice president of information technology for White Lodging, said that regulatory compliance was a new issue due to the growth of White Lodging from 17 hotels in the past, to now 165 hotels. He said, “[A new challenge] for us is regulatory compliance. Our ownership groups are changing, one is becoming a publicly traded company, so there are different regulatory compliance issues that we’re having to integrate within our processes.”
Other compliance issues that were frequently mentioned revolve around on-going PCI compliance and security. Richard Tudgay, vice president, technology of Omni Hotels and Resorts, said the No. 1 challenge he is currently facing is, “the ongoing PCI compliance and keeping up with and making sure... that all of our (50) hotels are PCI compliant as well as our corporate office and reservation center.” 

Also mentioned frequently among the top three greatest challenges were issues with mobility. Jeffrey Stephen Parker, vice president of technology for Stout Street Hospitality (formerly Magnolia Hotels), agreed that his greatest concern lies within the realm of mobile technology. Parker said, “Mobility for my users and for my guests – to figure out a way to get the right apps, the right content, the right security in their hands as quickly and as efficiently as humanly possible.” Vivek Shaiva, chief information officer of La Quinta Inns and Suites, also mentioned mobile issues in the form of BYOD, referring to building cost-effective solutions for the plethora of mobile devices and platforms as currently one of his top three challenges. Shaiva expanded on BYOD specifically by pointing to the profusion of consumer apps being used by staff for business, and the need for a secure mechanism to allow adoption of newer mobile apps for corporate staff.

Other major concerns included Wi-Fi infrastructure and bandwidth, outsourcing, business intelligence and analytics, transitioning and/or replacing legacy systems, and financial challenges. A few CIOs also echoed that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Monika Nerger, global chief information officer of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group named the consumerization of technology and the replacement of legacy systems as top challenges but also she said, “Personally, I think the biggest challenge will be finding that work/life balance in a 24/7 global position.”
- by Kylie McKlveen, Hospitality Upgrade

©2012 Hospitality Upgrade
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