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A 'Smart Ship' To Sail into the Wide Array of Technologies

By Bill Martin, CIO, Royal Caribbean Cruises

Bill Martin, CIO, Royal Caribbean Cruises

Benefits of Cloud Computing

There isn't anything all that unique about the Hospitality industry that will mean we leverage cloud computing more or less than other industries. There are clearly unique use cases such as cloud based property management systems for remote hotel locations, but similar remote access scenarios exist in other industries. Cloud computing is already having a positive impact on business in general. We are leveraging the Amazon cloud for website infrastructure as well as off-line compute capacity when needed. We are also using a number of Software as a Service (SaaS) applications as well as deploying an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform that will allow us to be more nimble for our business.

Effective and Proactive Use of Data to Drive Business

Again, Hospitality has unique use cases around customer information but the over arching problem of coordinating enterprise data is not unique. We leverage an off the shelf marketing platform and an in house central data store which provides a repository, that all applications can tap into, for the information that is needed. This is not an easy thing to orchestrate but critical to the successful use of the information across the enterprise.

Choices for a Consistent Guest Experience

The first thing that comes to mind is something called responsive design. This is a basic concept in web design that allows the user interface to adapt or respond to the platform being used (Smartphone, Tablet, PC, etc.). Other things we can do are leveraging a common content management platform that allows the same content to be dynamically used across platforms as well. Finally, having a single person or group of people responsible for the "digital experience" of the guest. This usually resides in the marketing organization as this has a lot to do with how the brand is perceived, but it can reside in other areas of the enterprise successfully.

A Good CRM to Review Business

It's probably one of the most difficult things to get right. It took us years but in the end you have to find a way to get to a single source of truth and then dedicate the necessary resources to own it and keep it accurate. There are no shortcuts when it comes to customer information.

Challenges and Wish List for 2015

The biggest challenge is vigilance over cyber security. This has only become more and more complex as time moves on and we adopt new technologies in "the cloud", leverage mobile in the day to day transactions and we become inundated by the "internet of things". Simplicity in integration is definitely on my wish list. It's always the most difficult thing to get right and it's only going to become more prevalent in everything we do.

Key Areas to be Focused for Fostering Innovation

Listen to your kids! They are adopting things faster than anyone and they are also distancing themselves from technology that doesn't provide a utility to them. Mobility is here to stay and the more you can adapt and adopt uses in that platform the more you will be adopted by consumers.

Role as a CIO

We are involved in seemingly every innovative implementation today. Our newest ship is referred to as the "Smart Ship" because it breaks ground in a wide array of new technologies in the shipboard environment. Consumers expect us to adopt technology to make their experiences easier and more fun. It's a huge challenge, but it's also a fun one!

Lessons Learnt and Advice for Fellow CIOs

Never underestimate people's aversion to change. It's the most difficult thing we do as innovation leaders. Pay attention to everything you have learned about business change management and practice it always. Even the most successful technology deployments can fall flat if the change is not managed well.

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