Hilton Makes Room for an Advanced IT Framework

By Samuel Greengard  |  Posted 2016-03-11 Email Print this article Print
Improved infrastructure

The global hotel chain uses ITSM and ITIL technologies to create a more agile and flexible IT and business environment that take performance to a higher level.

Operating a global business is fraught with challenges. When a company has thousands of locations—including many that operate as franchises—the difficulties are magnified exponentially.

Hilton Worldwide, which oversees more than a dozen brands with approximately 758,000 rooms in 100 countries and territories, is among the organizations that need to simplify the IT framework and make data widely accessible. "It's critical to tie everything together and manage core processes and functions effectively across the enterprise," states Reggie Cummings, the company's senior director of IT Service Management.

In 2009, the McLean, Va., company embarked on a strategic mission to create a single point of IT contact for the entire global enterprise. Prior to that, any array of disparate technologies and systems meant that the IT organization had to handle any and all requests for data or services.

"We were unable to provide all the core processes and functions that the organization required," Cummings reports. The list of issues included infrastructure and hardware; service continuity, data management and disaster recovery. "We realized that we needed to marry various systems and ITIL [Information Technology Infrastructure Library] repositories so that we could support the level of agility the organization needs to compete effectively," he adds.

Hilton turned to consulting and software services firm TOPdesk in order to introduce a far more robust IT Service Management (ITSM) framework that could help the company tackle digital business needs. "The idea was to have a single tool available that could manage the IT environment," Cummings explains.

Capturing and Distributing Data Across the Enterprise

Today, one of the primary beneficiaries for the company is analytics and business intelligence (BI). Hilton relies on a single repository for data, but it captures and distributes data across the entire enterprise. Enterprise data management specialists, business groups, teams and others can pull necessary data without the involvement of the IT staff.

"In the past, we had people sending us emails and requesting reports and special data, but that has gone away," Cummings says. For example, a marketing manager may pull data to see how a campaign is performing, or a specific property may want to examine occupancy patterns so that it can design better promotions or adjust pricing.

The move to the ITSM framework also has simplified IT help desk ticketing and other functions. Finally, Cummings says, the platform supports an array of other impending initiatives, including a growing use of clouds and application programming interfaces (APIs) to connect applications, data repositories and other resources.

The initiative has also helped Hilton Worldwide ratchet up its governance standards and manage IT resources more effectively. These resources include locally used software and potential shadow IT systems.

"We don't want to slow the business down or introduce roadblocks for getting things done, but we also want to avoid potential problems," Cummings explains. "We are now able to harvest the information that's needed to run the business in a smarter and better way.

We have data in one place so that it's possible to cut, slice and dice it to meet whatever needs a user or the enterprise requires. In short, we have built a more agile and flexible IT and business environment."

Samuel Greengard writes about business and technology for Baseline, CIO Insight and other publications. His most recent book is The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).

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