Optimizing the Use of New Technology
By Hilary Murphy Professor & Researcher, Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne, HES-SO//University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland | February 10, 2012
The challenge of optimizing IT investment is relentless for the hospitality sector. This article reviews some of the salient issues that impact on optimizing new technologies by revisiting the determinants of technology adoption and then by sharing some of my research into Strategic Technology Relationships in the Hotel Sector, conducted earlier this year with the hospitality technology managers (CIOs and IT Directors) in the major European hotels. Finally, some suggestions are proposed for the future optimization of technology in the hospitality sector.
What are the key determinants for successful IT implementation?
Markets and people drive change. Though market power is generally thought to be a positive influence on technology purchase, there are further external drivers which should be considered.
The first of which is location and competition, i.e. at one end of the spectrum some hotels in highly competitive environments adopt IT technologies in order to enhance competitiveness or simply to keep up and, at the other end, a hotel company in a less competitive environment would not be faced with as great a push to adopt. Indeed, the best gross indicator of competitiveness may be simply the amount of resources committed to information infrastructure!
Next, the hotel sector is more information intensive and therefore is subject to greater pressures when purchasing technology. Additionally, the technology infrastructure in the location/ destination may also prove to be critical. Though penetration of broadband may be consistent in the USA, there remains a worldwide digital divide. This divide is exemplified in Europe between the north and south and will widen further with the new additions to the European Economic Community being poorly connected, with subsequent impact on technology adoption.
Size matters. Large hotels are more likely to adopt IT as they have more transactions and more data to manage and are more likely to have the financial foresight to plan and invest in technology and, consequently, shorter buying cycles which enhance their attractiveness to technology developers and vendors. Their scope of activities are also more likely to determine technology adoption so that hotels that offer a large number of activities, e.g. spa, health & beauty, nightclub, events, F&B etc may be more predisposed to adopt. The larger the business the more it is able to hire or contract people with specialized skills and this, in turn, affects technology decision making.