Modern hospitality is the nexus of tradition and technology, where IQ must meet EQ. Emotion and intelligence are key to what will create the experiences of the future. Today’s IT leaders must understand, embrace and predict both concepts.
Hospitality Technology’s annual Industry Outlook is the perfect opportunity to do a gut check. A diverse array of responses on investment plans to leadership is a gauge on what HT has been covering and plans to cover, but also as a litmus test for how IT leaders’ strategies have had to evolve. As much as technology changes exponentially, some beliefs withstand the test of time and are worth quoting, even if quoting oneself.
“Business First, Technology Follows.” Marcus Wasdin, then-CIO of Church’s Chicken provided this pearl of wisdom in a 2015 cover story. He repeated it for this 2020 Outlook as the CIO of the Atlanta Hawks & State Farm Arena. “IT leaders need to understand business and devise solutions,” he explains. “Solutions may or may not be tech-based. It is not good enough just to be a master technologist.”
David Starmer, CIO of Sonesta Hotels, agrees that IT doesn’t just support the business, technology is the business. Team members must be empowered to advocate for business outcomes, influence those outcomes and be an integral part in the entire process. “Technology lives at the center of strategy and growth and is a deep partner across the enterprise,” Starmer says. “As we continue our business partner approach to collaboration, members of the technology team are more deeply embedded in functional departments where they have insight.”
As artificial intelligence becomes a vital part of IT strategies, the merging of EQ and IQ is more apparent. The drivers for change hinge on understanding the emotions of guests and being able to entice and engage them with appropriate innovation and technical touchpoints.