A Message to the Amazed & Confused at HITEC

The Message: Relax and Stay Focused on Business Goals

I was fortunate to be a first-time attendee at HITEC 2011, the hospitality industry’s largest technology event, which was held in Austin during late June.

My company provides consulting services that focus on developing web solutions for clients and we have done a lot of work in the hospitality sector, so my goal was to learn about industry trends, absorb as much as possible about the business and use that knowledge to help our clients.

Volume and Variety of HITEC Exhibit Hall Can Leave You Dazed and Confused
After attending presentations throughout Monday and into Tuesday morning, I joined the throng of folks on “the floor” to peruse the various HITEC vendor booths. I have to admit to initially feeling a bit overwhelmed with trying to understand the details of some products and how they might be relevant to me, or more specifically, the clients that we support. The volume and variety of vendor offerings was enough to make you feel both amazed and confused.

Because we mostly focus on corporate-level custom web solutions that attract/retain guests and improve operational efficiencies, I concentrated mostly on web-based product offerings, which helped narrow down the field.
And after meandering through several HITEC aisles, it dawned on me that the challenge of understanding technological offerings, the value they can add, and which ones to ultimately choose was probably shared by a great number of attendees.

Reality: Technology can be Daunting
The reality is that technology in general can be daunting to many business people and the fast-paced, ever-changing nature of the web adds to their anxiety. In addition, it’s easier to be seduced into thinking that what you hope a flashy solution does is what you will ultimately get when you deploy it in your organization, without having to perform some detail-oriented due diligence.
So, my suggestion to the amazed and confused of HITEC, especially those who are currently in the midst of making IT investment decisions, is this:

  • Relax
  • Take a deep breath
  • Stay focused on business goals

Build a Strong Business Foundation of Your Needs Before Jumping Into any Solutions
The foundation of undertaking any business effort — IT or otherwise — should always be based upon business needs that are well-defined before jumping head-first into a solution. I realize that it’s easy to be wowed with the presentation of a technology solution (e.g., what a product does) – but before you commit, I suggest that you fully understand its relevance to your organization (e.g., why it is needed and how it ultimately provides value). Learn more on this topic here>

Turnkey Solutions Might Not Work With Your Unique Goals
Next, I would suggest that any IT solution you are considering may not meet all of your business needs and will likely require a significant amount of expertise to deploy within your organization. The level of expertise needed is greatly dependent upon the complexity of your goals, as well as your current processes and the people that support them.

In addition, your hope of using turnkey (also known as COTS) solutions needs to be tempered with the realization that your organization has unique goals and your IT implementations need to provide you with a competitive advantage that differentiates you from others in the marketplace.

For example, while it may make sense to purchase a turnkey web-based PMS solution, you’re likely to need a custom solution to accomplish the specialized nuances of a membership promotional campaign or a complex gift card site like the one we recently re-built for Marriott.

Stay Focused on Your Business Goals
Of course your organization has a vision of where it needs to go in order to exceed your guest’s expectations and out-do the competition — but how do you ultimately get there with the various IT options available to you?
If the answer to that question was easy, there would probably be a lot less anxiety on the part of business people having to make those decisions.

So, if you consider yourself to be one of the amazed and confused, be consoled that you are not alone. And just remember, first and foremost, to stay focused on your business goals when evaluating and choosing your solutions.

Steve Short is president of NetLink Resource Group. Learn more from him at the NetLink Blog or visit NetLinks’s web site.

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