To hoteliers, mobile devices aren’t just convenient and handy; they are useful as the gateway to a wide range of hotel functions. Such is the case with Interstate Hotels & Resorts, which recently moved its proprietary business intelligence platform IHR1 to a cloud-based solution that workers can access on their mobile devices or their desktops.
“Cloud adoption is really what allowed us to focus on developing these types of tools,” said Jim Lamb, CIO at Interstate Hotels and Resorts. “We’ve migrated our entire business intelligence infrastructure to the cloud, which has allowed us to take advantage of our cloud partners’ expertise in that infrastructure.”
Allowing Interstate’s cloud partner, NaviSite, to take over the computing infrastructure of Interstate’s business intelligence platform both allowed that infrastructure to grow more easily and freed Interstate to focus on other things, Lamb said.
“It would have been impossible for us to have built that infrastructure on our own,” he said. “The cost would have been prohibitive. But leveraging on that wave of technology surrounding the cloud makes that functionality a vey compelling price point.”
A cloud partner also allows the business intelligence platform to scale more easily. “If you look at buying a home PC, the cost of processors, memory, bandwidth and storage is all on a downward trend,” Lamb said. “The cloud doesn’t allow you to get ahead of that curve, but it allows you to stay abreast of it.”
Once its cloud partner assumed responsibility for maintaining the infrastructure underlying IHR1, Interstate was able to focus on other important business needs. “We were at a point where our existing infrastructure did not have the capacity to support the significant growth we had achieved over the past few years,” Lamb said. “We needed to bolster our disaster recovery and continuity capability, so we had to get a partner that would allow us to get out of the infrastructure management business.”
Once that happened, Interstate was free to focus on advancements. “Instead of day-to-day firefighting and keeping the lights on, we could focus on innovation in technology solutions,” Lamb said. “That is where the focus on developing the mobile app came from.”
MOBILE BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE
IHR1’s new mobile dashboard changed the way Interstate approached business intelligence by making big data easily available to hotel operators on the go.
“What’s new about the mobile app is allowing access to that information to begin to transform what we’re displaying into something that can be accessed at a glance,” said Lamb.
The mobile app takes information from the business intelligence system, which is gathered on an individual hotel basis, into an easy-to-digest dashboard that can display key metrics either per property or across a set of hotels.
“They say a picture tells a thousand words, and the mobile app allows us to display that information quickly,” said Lamb. “We have owners who don’t spend all of their time in their office, and an iPad is a much more convenient way to see, ‘How did my hotels do yesterday?’”
Graphical displays communicate the large amount of data available on IHR1 efficiently, said Lamb.
“You want to drill down into something but you don’t want to be overwhelmed by detail,” he said. “With the dashboards, you can focus on key performance indicators, and then see, ‘Where do I need to drill down and take corrective action?’”
Being able to access this data constantly shifts the entire culture of the organization, said Lamb. “The daily focus on how what we’re doing allows us to drive performance, that’s what distinguishes us to drive performance forward,” he said.
In the future, Interstate plans to add new capabilities to the platform, particularly in terms of predictive analytics.
“We use dashboards to track where we are in terms of guest satisfaction and quality assurance surveys, but if you look beyond that, you can begin to harness and drive predictive analytics around trends that are occurring,” said Lamb. “The earlier you know, the more readily you can adapt to make changes. The mobile platform is a medium that is going to allow us to communicate more efficiently and effectively.”