HOUSTON—Does your business need a chief data officer? For some hotel companies, it’s become a must-have in order to drive change and innovation.
Mindtree recently conducted a survey on the relevance and staying power of the chief data officer and, according to the data, business and IT professionals alike see a clear need for the continuance of the role, with 76% of respondents noting that they believe the chief data officer role has become more relevant now than when the role was first created.
“Driving audacious organizational change requires a step-by-step approach of thinking big, starting small and scaling fast,” said Adnan Saulat, AVP and head of consulting — travel, transportation and hospitality business, Mindtree, based here.
“This necessitates agility within the organization in order to create a culture where people are willing to take measured risks and learn from failing fast. The chief data officer plays a pivotal role for enterprises to fully embrace the potential of digital technologies by driving the alignment of IT and business processes to achieve strategic growth and change.”
Major industry players such as Marriott, Radisson and Accor have chief data officers on board. These executives play a critical role in helping the brand foster a more customer-centric organization.
“The hospitality industry is undergoing a major change in how they go about creating a seamless customer journey, personalizing customer experiences, improving loyalty programs and expanding to adjacent business models,” said Saulat. “It is important for traditional hospitality players to bring in a chief digital officer who can set a digital strategy and guide an organization’s capacity to absorb change and fully embrace transformation. The role of the chief data officer is to encourage risk-taking and allow fellow employees to try new things that can elevate the customer experience.”
As the need grows, chief data officers have shifted from a focus on managing technology channels to take on a more business and growth-centric role.
“Mindtree’s survey found that 61% of business and IT leaders named a deep understanding of technology as their chief data officer’s main skills, while 53% named the ability to execute digital strategies and 41% named a deep knowledge of business,” said Saulat. “In addition, 70% of respondents said their chief data officer comes from an IT background, suggesting that while many in this role possess a good combination of technology understanding and soft skills, they may have less visibility into or are still acquiring an understanding of how parts of the business function.”
He continued, “A chief data officer in the hospitality industry must continue to acquire a deeper understanding of business functions and how digital initiatives can make an impact in order to help his or her organization embrace the new, digital normal and truly make a positive impact on its customers—the guests and the hotels.”
Businesses and IT professionals are seeing a long-term need for the chief digital officer role as digital transformations take hold. Saulat believes there will be a point where there is no longer a need for the chief data officer once every part of a business is digital, but that time is still in the distant future.
“The role will continually morph, but chief data officers are here to stay as they are required to take on additional responsibilities like managing e-commerce, consumer insights and data analytics, product development, guest experience and loyalty,” he said. “The hospitality business itself needs this role in the long term to tackle new technologies and business models. These include expanding into non-lodging areas, creating better in-room experiences and reimagining loyalty programs, to name a few.”
As more hotel companies seek to provide a seamless journey for the traveler, chief data officers are making an impact. Saulat outlined some of the key aspects of this role:
- Leverage digital to grow market share and drive increases in EBITDA faster than its competitors.
- Enhance guest experiences through personalized, relevant, and consistent interactions across digital channels.
- Empower team members and property owners to fully embrace new digital business models.
- Change digital dead-ends into seamless guest experiences.
- Update outdated technology and processes into a digital business ecosystem with modern architecture and platforms.
- Create a 360-degree customer journey that utilizes every customer touchpoint as an opportunity to become smarter and bolster the guest experience and brand loyalty.
Mindtree’s report also delves into how chief data officers can accelerate the pace of change.
“The report found that scaling meaningful digital transformation requires cross-functional teams that work together and coordinate more closely,” he said. “Instead of departments working on siloed initiatives, most organizations need to take a holistic approach to innovation to meet customer needs. This is where chief data officers are facing their greatest challenge. However, business and IT professionals believe that executives in this role have the support and authority to do their job.”