Connecting with the people who make key decisions about Oracle’s product direction and roadmaps for core hospitality business systems.

Oracle hosted its 5th annual Oracle Industry Connect (OIC) in New York City. More than 1,900 people attended this year’s event from the seven industry verticals Oracle serves: Communication, Construction and Engineering, Energy and Utilities, Financial, Health, Hospitality and Retail. But of course, the hospitality vertical was the place to be.

"Hospitality is Oracle’s biggest Global Business Unit (GBU),” noted Grahame Tate, VP Hotels & F&B for Oracle in JAPAC. As I looked around the room I saw many familiar faces from technology and CIO roles, and they were all there for the same reasons.
Director of IT, Enterprise Architecture Richard Rabinoff, Xanterra Travel Collection, said, “We tend to be pretty picky about the industry events we attend during the year, but this is one event that we’ve come to appreciate. The keynote and breakout sessions are interesting and relevant.”
The cloud was among the biggest topic; Oracle’s current innovation trajectory is interwoven into the cloud. “The cloud is much more than on-demand computing and storage resources, said Bob Weiler is Executive Vice President for Oracle Global Business Units. “It is the foundation for a whole new world of exciting and smart ways of doing business.”
Artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning will be incorporated into Oracle’s cloud offerings and this was touted often at this year’s OIC. One of the sessions presented by regular Hospitality Upgrade contributor Siva Kantamneni of Deloitte Consulting went deeper into these technologies. “A key understanding of your business goals creates the roadmap framework for moving at the speed of innovation,” said Kantamneni, principal Deloitte Consulting LLP. “Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT) and voice work best in combination with each other to build a strong and robust consumer data network.  IoT enables more data capture while AI and automation facilitate the use of that data to create personalized moments that matter to guests. Voice, gestures and facial recognition are just new mechanisms to deliver faster personalized service. Blockchain is a new security standard to safeguard and better implement guest insights driven experiences.”
Hospitality vertical co-host for OIC and Oracle Hospitality’s Senior Director of Marketing Louise Casamento said, “That’s why Oracle Industry Connect is significant. It’s singularly committed to helping hospitality companies innovate operations and guest experiences through technology. And it’s all done through peer-to-peer learning and the sharing of insights from industry titans such as MGM, Disney, Marriott and Norwegian Cruise Line – all of whom joined us this year in New York City.”
Those in attendance gave high marks to this year’s speakers. “Sy Esfahani’s discussion of the MGM digital transformation was a brilliant explication of the IT strategic planning process brought to life.  Watch the video. And the David Cameron general session was a great exposure to the unique perspective of a global leader’s worldview, clearly centered in the core values of a representative democracy,” observed Mark Haley, managing partner of The Prism Partnership.
“Sy Esfahani, CIO of MGM Resorts International, shared an eye-opening statistic: In 1958, the average age of an S&P 500 company was 60 years. Today, it’s just 15 years,” said Casamento. “It just underscores the fact that if you’re not innovating quickly today, you’re not going to be around for long.”

And Jennifer Jones, J2 Hospitality Solutions, found added value from the keynote. “David Cameron’s intimate conversation with the group as Wednesday’s keynote speaker was one of the best parts of the conference.”
Jones also took advantage of Oracle’s demonstrations, specifically of its reporting and analytics tool demonstration. “I was able to learn more about how it’s used and its future ability to handle data from Opera — not just POS data.”
Creating a Partner and Customer Ecosystem
While some customers have moved to the Oracle cloud, it was estimated that only about 15 percent of its hospitality customers have made the transition. Of these customers, Oracle brought a few to speak directly to industry peers.
“While we already have a very large partner community, through our open system platform we are creating a customer and partner ecosystem that contributes with innovative solutions and ideas for the industry,” said Laura Calin, Oracle VP Strategy and Solutions Management.
“When Oracle acquired Micros, we adopted a business and organization model that has proven successful for all the other Oracle GBUs (Global Business Units),” she added. “A strategy and solutions management team was formed. The overall strategy of the team is to provide the industry with a highly available, secure and scalable platform to power the operations of customers in all segments of the hospitality industry, with an open system mentality through APIs that allow secure and flexible data access for all integration needs. Our solutions not only provide all the needed business analytics for the industry, we also infuse the use of artificial intelligence (with input from other experienced AI Oracle groups) into the platform.”
The vendor-led lunchtime roundtable discussions were also productive to those in attendance. “To have discussions with industry peers regarding hot topics such as EMV was invaluable,” Jones said. “To hear others' struggles and successes regarding implementation of secure payments was very helpful.”
Many of the attendees agreed the conference was time well spent with their peers. “(At OIC) we get to spend a few days with industry colleagues who run precisely the same systems, with their challenges and benefits, as we do,” Rabinoff said. “And, we get to spend time networking with vendor partners and the product management teams from Oracle. These are people who are making key decisions about product direction and roadmaps for our core business systems, so it’s important that we do what we can to understand where they’re heading and to make our voice heard.”