The Bottom Line Per ... Glenn Bonner

By Anna Maria Virzi  |  Posted 2002-06-01 Print this article Print

CIO of MGM Mirage on managing 185 applications

MGM Mirage's Glenn Bonner is responsible for the information systems running at the Las Vegas-based hotel and gaming company, which owns or manages 19 casinos in the U.S., Australia and South Africa. He oversees a staff of 220 with an annual budget of about $25 million for operations and another $25 million for capital expenditures.

Q: What challenges do you encounter as CIO?

A: It's like a small city here, and our systems environment is very diverse. We have vendor-supported and internally developed applications. We have security and police systems; we have hotel check-in and reservation systems, as well as lost-and-found, uniform control systems. We are actually a very large chain of restaurants with about 2,000 point-of-sale terminals. We have the back-of-the-house systems that you would normally have for any industry: finance, human resources, payroll, inventory, purchasing. There are about 185 applications.

Q: What metrics do you use?

A: About 30 days after I had taken the job as CIO at Mirage Resorts in 1997, the chief financial officer told me that another casino company, Circus Circus (now known as the Mandalay Resort Group), ran a much leaner MIS (management information systems) shop than Mirage Resorts. I never wanted to have that conversation again. We did three things to create a leaner operation: we centralized operations, we specialized the manpower so people could get better at what they did, and we automated virtually every aspect of our technology operation. We use a systems-management tool from BMC Software for automating the monitoring and maintenance of our 500-plus servers.

Q: When the MGM Grand acquired Mirage Resorts in 2000, how did you go about making decisions on what technology to keep or discard?

A: We were selected to run the MIS operations for the merged companies rather than the folks at MGM Grand. Part of the process we've been going through in merging the two technology organizations is to buy applications rather than build them. For instance, MGM Grand had a custom slots system maintained internally. We have since retired that system and moved to a mainstream one sold by International Gaming Technology.

Q: What special issues do you have to address as a company that comes under heavy regulatory review?

A: You are always susceptible to random audits and the annual audits by the gaming control boards in Nevada, Mississippi or Michigan, where we have casinos. We have to maintain gaming records associated with gaming taxes for seven years. We're highly scrutinized. In some ways it's nice; it keeps us on our toes. In other ways, it makes the job a little tougher.

Executive Editor
Anna Maria was assistant managing editor Forbes.com. She held the posts of news editor and executive editor at Internet World magazine and was city editor and Washington correspondent for the Connecticut Post, a daily newspaper in Bridgeport. Anna Maria has a B.A. from the University of Rhode Island.

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