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Making Smart Use of Data, Cloud, and Mobility
By Walter Yosafat, SVP & Global CIO, Wyndham Worldwide Corporation
Cloud computing provides the hospitality industry with flexibility, scale and the increased ability to focus on a company’s IT needs. The industry, as a whole, is just beginning to leverage true cloud capabilities beyond what has been done with Software as a Service (SaaS). It also gives users a variable financial model to leverage and control IT spend, but one which also must be more tightly managed to ensure that a company avoids excess storage and the proliferation of data.
From the CIO perspective, the key to using data to drive business is to effectively manage the location of data and track data migration as a result of new or changing systems. It is also important to understand what data is actually needed and what can and cannot be maintained and how data can be used in accordance with a company’s policies. It is less effective to keep all data in a massive data warehouse and model it and extract it in the event it is needed.
Technology challenges and wish list for 2015
Cloud and mobility present great opportunities with some associated risks. For example, like all industries, the cloud and mobility providers face risk from increasingly sophisticated and well-funded cyber criminals. In addition, cloud solutions and mobile devices are changing at a rapid pace, so technology providers must prove what they claim on the security of their offerings in an integrated and more-mobile environment. At the top of my wish list, is to have vendor partners truly stick with us, not just by us or behind us, in ensuring that their great products and services stand up reliably, effectively and efficiently to our internal and external customer demand.
The industry, as a whole, is just beginning to leverage true cloud capabilities beyond what has been done with Software as a Service
Steps towards growth
From the CIO perspective, there are a number of small, agile companies out there today (with undoubtedly more to come) that embrace and respond rapidly to innovation challenges. You give them the challenge and they thrive on delivering the prototypes and business cases for new ideas. While it is harder (if not impossible) to do all innovation internally, a better route is the partnership with these firms to come up with and test new ideas quickly with true comfort and willingness to possibly fail BUT to keep trying.
Change in CIOs role
CIOs in the past managed or owned large development and support shops with either internal employees or outsourced captives. CIOs also owned and managed the information technology spend and drove key decision making on that spend. Today, more and more of what we provide and will provide comes from sources and partners we can’t and won’t control as closely. Yet, we and our leaders are accountable and responsible for their deliveries (and failures), so partner relationships and vendor management are absolute essentials to success. Also, the relationship with such functions as Marketing are changing and our mutual success depends upon strong collaboration and communications. Finally, as potentially more moves to the Cloud, more spend moves from capital to operating expense. The shift here for companies is significant and the continued partnership and alignment with Finance and support from C-Suite partners is essential.
Directing fellow CIOs
First, given how the role of the CIO is changing, we must be in much more of a “show me” mode than ever before, especially on innovation and co-development. We must challenge every day the “givens” of vendor and partner offerings as “assumptions”, assuming those offerings are not ready for prime time until proven to be. Second, we must factor in the additional cost and time and internal resource use of innovation and co-development up front, even with the best of partners. Third, there is no substitute for / short cut around strong, solid program and project management and then execution to a solid, battle-tested plan. Best, net advice – avoid re-learning the same lessons!
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Mindy Ferguson, Vice President, Mobile and Emerging Technology, Northwestern Mutual