Moving Beyond Metrics

By Samuel Greengard  |  Posted 2008-09-29 Print this article Print

Marriott turns IT into a strategic advantage.

Moving Beyond Metrics

At the core of Marriott’s philosophy is the slogan, “Success Is Never Final.” “We believe that constant measurement and improvement are an integral part of our corporate culture,” Wilson explains. It’s an approach the company takes seriously. “Even though the value of technology is inherently difficult to measure, we constantly analyze outcomes and hold ourselves accountable to them,” he adds.

Marriott uses both quantitative and qualitative measures to demonstrate the value of technology both internally and to business partners. The former focuses on technical IT benchmarks such as bits, bytes, feeds and speeds. The latter incorporates customer performance and service benchmarks—ranging from surveys to occupancy levels—and pegs them to revenue per available room.

“When we talk about investing money in IT capabilities,” Wilson says, “we normally express it in terms of what it will do for revenue per room.” Marriott also benchmarks its IT operations against key leaders inside and outside its industry.

Other areas that Marriott has focused on include the adoption of a service-oriented architecture and managed services. The latter is taking on a growing role within the organization.

“We use managed services where it makes sense,” Wilson says. “If there’s an area that is critical to Marriott’s future growth, profitability or ability to innovate, we are inclined to keep it in-house.”

For example, this year, Marriott partnered with AT&T to develop a new network infrastructure specifically aimed at managing bandwidth for its hotels. Piloted at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront property, the network infrastructure enables the company to manage bandwidth allocation on the fly. “If we have five people downloading movies at the same time, we can allocate enough bandwidth immediately to meet the demands of both our guests and our operations,” Wilson explains.

Building a culture based on innovation and IT excellence hasn’t been easy. Achieving a converged business-technology environment has taken time and a good deal of effort. But, in the end, Marriott has emerged as a leader in IT excellence. Says Wilson: “We take business-technology management seriously.

In fact, it is the basis for much of our decision-making.”

READ Convergence: The Wave of the Future

Samuel Greengard is a freelance writer for Baseline.

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