Blog: Making Technology Investments Without Data Insight
Data Drives Technology
In previous posts I have covered both the value and challenge of data in your hotel. I have shown how important having access to data in near real time is for hotel operations along with the challenges of getting this data into a place where you can act upon it immediately. Now I’m going to take a deeper look into how this data can guide hotels through technology investments.
The pace of technology change is ever increasing. In fact, the current rate of change is truly exponential. The knock-on effect of this, is that product life cycles are becoming shorter. This is an obvious measure to allow technology partners to be able to provide the latest solutions. Solutions that guests have come to expect.
One issue with this rapid rate of change though, is that the technology budget of hotels is not necessarily growing at the same rate. In fact, with budgets squeezed in all areas of hospitality, prioritisation of where this money is spent is paramount. So now, more than ever, it becomes critical that the correct data is available to avoid making poor decisions regarding technology investment.
A Hotel WiFi Anecdote
Without the data that shows how to prioritise those technology investments, hotels lack evidence. The actual driver for the change is missing, without which the decision becomes totally circumstantial. The result, more often than not, is a poor solution.
Looking at this illustration, we can clearly see how the correct data, gives direction for the investment:
An Example Hotel receives a large number of complaints about the WiFi service from guests. Obviously, the guest cannot be expected to determine where their issue is, such as speed, disconnects, or missing captive portal? No, they are just aware it is not working as expected. The natural move of the hotel is to place the blame squarely at the feet of the WiFi service provider.
If we begin to introduce tools such as the dashboards we have discussed previously, we have access to data. The dashboard visualises the data for us, and even with very little technical understanding, it should be clear to identify where the issue is.
Back to the Example Hotel, the data available in our dashboard actually shows that the bandwidth on the ISP link into the hotel is hitting full capacity at the same time, 5 days a week. This kind of pattern is nothing new in the hospitality space, but having the data visualised through a dashboard allows you to track and most importantly, prove it.
So, this simple dashboard, based on the available data, has shown that the issue impacting the guest is actually nothing to do with the WiFi service provider, it’s to do with the data line provided by the ISP. Even more than that though, what this clearly shows is there isn’t actually a fault, or incident to use the correct industry term. The problem lies with the implemented solution, which no longer meets the demand.
Using Data for the Decision
Armed with the data from our example above, a decision can be made. In this scenario the obvious answer is to look to upgrade the size of the data line, or perhaps request what is known as a burstable connection, where it is possible to exceed the allocated bandwidth at peak times. That could, however, be expensive, so is not a decision to be taken lightly.
Having all the data to hand so easily lets hotels take other decisions though. Knowing they are only hitting peak bandwidth at this certain time of the day, and perhaps for 95% or more of the time there is totally sufficient bandwidth, another solution could be possible.
Using the data to drill down could even enable insight into where the bandwidth is being used. Perhaps one user, or service is using much more of the available bandwidth than others? Working with the WiFi service provider, it is possible to limit the bandwidth allocated per user, or service to avoid this scenario. This way ensuring sufficient bandwidth for each and every guest. A simple solution, driven by data.
Of course, this is not the only use for a dashboard. A myriad of parameters can be captured such as offline equipment or network usage, along with useful metrics such as incidents logged, time to fix incidents, and most importantly, the type of tickets. Capturing the type of incidents quickly allows tracking of trends and patterns, giving the hotel a clear idea of the operational environment. This then shapes the decision making required for the lead up to technology investment.
The Impact of Data
The net effect of the use of this data, in operational awareness and shaping investments, is avoiding finger pointing. Where once there would have been a long forward and backwards between the hotel and the WiFi provider, lasting weeks or even months, now the data shows exactly who to approach about the issue, or how to handle it. The hotel can quickly see what is happening, identify the root cause and decide upon the mitigation strategy.
Now, the formally frustrated guests are happy, and the hotel sees a reduction of complaint levels related to WiFi. Following this, the social media ranking of the hotel begins to increase, which of course, turns into real money.
Simon I’Anson is Chief Strategy Officer with Hoist Group, whose main focus is finding Hoist Group’s myriad of advanced technology solutions their rightful home in some of the world’s greatest hotels. With over 15 years of experience in the hospitality technology space, he is sharing his valuable insights through these posts. Outside of work he is a big fan of many sports, including Rugby and Tennis, enjoys spending time with his family, and likes the type of music that should be turned up to ‘11’. You can find more about him here – LinkedIn