Information Technology Strategy
Ivory Towers, is a hotel located in the middle of England, and more specifically in the center of the area owned by Basil Fawlty. The hotel faced a decline in bookings and decreased bank balance in the previous years. Drawing on past negative experience with competition, which is considered to be one of the contributing factors to its downfall, Ivory Towers decided to expand into conference business five years ago. The new venture specialized in offering meeting rooms, as well as seminar and training facilities for a number of groups (maximum of 50 people per group) or organizations. Ivory Towers has a major advantage in terms of its forty-four bedrooms, single rooms, each with en-suite facilities and area of study, as well as several double bedrooms upgraded to offer suitable rooms to the customers. The hotel provides three meals a day to the participants attending courses in the hotel. Therefore, it is able to gain full advantage from the groups, since they provide a full range of services required by groups staying at one place. The bookings have been made for one or more sessions on a regular or ad hoc basis. To accommodate different numbers of people per session, the hotel offers different kinds of conference rooms, such as: two large conference rooms capable of accommodating a maximum of fifty persons, two other smaller rooms with a capacity of around thirty people and additional seven rooms available with a ten to twelve people capacity per session either for formal or informal meetings. The company produces brochures listing the range of provided facilities to ensure that both individuals and organizations are offered a great value for money experience.
Managing the hotel structure through paperwork is considered inefficient with the advent of computers. In restructuring its functioning and operation from the previous capital constrains, Ivory Towers has faced significant challenges, especially in funding the transformation to information technology. The challenge is shown by the small number of computers which are mostly owned by the managers. The LAN network in the company is not sufficiently enhanced, the only place with a broadband link being the reception desk. However, there is still a fear that using the Internet will incur heavier costs and charges. A sage finance package used by the Assistant General Manager is mainly for invoicing the customers.
The administration has cut on its costs by reducing administrative staff, resulting in fewer branches managed by a smaller number of employees. The staff pays personally for using facilities of the company, such as drinks, newspapers, telephone or fax. The company employs part-time staff during peak hours or in the event of a crisis.
Using Information Technology requires new skills and capabilities. However, most of the company’s workers lack the skills to efficiently use the machines or computers to ensure enhanced capabilities. Despite having a complete Microsoft suit, the main applications in use by the managers who have computers are Word and Excel only. Some employees of the company still consider the use of paperwork as the best alternative. Therefore, teaching and learning on the use of Information Technology is considered as one of the key factors affecting the overall performance of the company.
Companies keep the records of their meetings and guest records a secret. Leaking of these data can cause harm to the hotel business, especially if there are customers who wish to keep a low profile. The security of the data to be stored is considered a threat, as the company lacks Information Technology assistance on how to keep the data secure from malicious individuals.
The advancements of mobile technologies have enabled most firms to reach many of their potential customers, and even enabled booking from the mobile phones either online or through calls. Ivory Towers allows enquiries and reservations to be made by phone, and booking notice is sent, but the booking is made once the customer deposits.
The company’s conduct in the past indicates their desire to change the main objective and shift to offering conference facilities. The company tried to employ Information Technology by buying some computers and linking them up in a local network. Therefore, the company has shown the ability to adapt to the trends arising despite not being able to adhere to all the requirements.
Project Management of the company cannot be considered effective, since it is facing a number of challenges, such as maintaining records of room bookings, organizing equipment and room layouts on time and getting beverages to the right group in the right session. The service offered to the customers has not been maintained at the level of quality specified by the management at Ivory Towers. Despite the healthy cash flow, complaints about the services are still raised, which impacts negatively on the company’s competitive ability.
Infrastructure of the hotel is upgraded to offer a serene environment for its customers. IT infrastructure is not well-developed due to the lack of networks and an insufficient number of computers. The management is lacking a team of professionals to accomplish the task, as it considers the project expensive.
Facing the major challenge of depreciation in hotel bookings, low income or losses experienced, the company changed its specialization to increase the fortunes of Ivory Towers. The decisions taken by the hotel’s management proved their ability to recover from disaster. Therefore, the business is considered to be in continuity even with the emergence of the arising events.
The company has been employing computers acquired by the management for not more than five years. The finance department is mainly using the computers sage package for giving invoices. Not all of the staff members have access to the computers, since they are only found in some of the managers’ offices and at the reception. The staff having access to the computers do not fully exploit their potential, confining themselves to only Word and Excel software. The staff are also in fear of using the Internet thinking of it as a way of increasing expenditure. The hotel does not have its own website, and therefore, it is not using the computers fully to market itself to the outside world. The cost of using computers and having a website to market the hotel is not even mentioned in the company’s vision.
The company wants to enhance Internet-based remote conferencing. The project envisages the use of facilities, such as webcams and projecting devices, which the company was considering to acquire but lacked the finances to do so.
Using a small number of dedicated machines, the company is intent on setting up a computer room with Internet access for the guests. John, the General Manager’s nephew, has agreed to undertake various computing projects during his holidays, since he is still a student. John has suggested installing a local area network (LAN) with wireless access.
Using the hotel’s congenial surroundings and grounds to offer wedding packages, is a vision that was brought to the attention of Basil and Sybil by a cousin. Therefore, weddings will be expected to take place at the hotel by utilizing its facilities.
The hotel recruited a new conference manager who succeeded in winning a fifty thousand dollar bid from the government. The funds are to be used to enhance Internet remote conferencing. Using the technology would give the company an edge over its competitors. Therefore, the hotel is expected to gain a better share of the market with the feature incorporated.
Major consideration is to be given to the way services are offered. The services are quite pleasing and include well equipped conference rooms, air conditioning, soundproofing, PCs, overhead projection facilities, BT telephone line, ample power points, CCTV camera and dedicated television, and chilled mineral water. Additional services are purchased from other service providers.
The staff is very important since they are the ones who deal with customers directly. The staff’s morale should, therefore, be increased to ensure an inviting attitude toward the customers.
By developing the computer room and including a wireless system, John has managed to organize physical connections, sockets and wiring.
Holding weddings is considered to be a costly undertaking due to the need to purchase the required items, such as marquees, tables and chairs. The cost will also include hiring more staff and putting in place a system for planning catering.
To hold remote internet conferencing, it is necessary to improve the conference rooms. The lacking equipment is to be purchased from the bid money won by the conference manager.
To retrieve information and maintain IT systems, the company is to set up a technology department. For a startup, it would be expensive for the hotel to come up with such a department due to scarcity of personnel. Therefore, it would be expedient for the company to outsource such services.
The hotel has little hardware, which is not optimized for use. The software is restricted to only Microsoft Office Suite of which only Word and Excel are used. The hotel is required to gain software that is customized for hotel functionality. The hotel might get standard software or have it custom made. The software would also ensure optimized use of the computer systems.
The data is to be stored in a single place for organizing and accessing purposes. The records are required to be centralized, organized and sorted as per particular criteria, thus allowing for quick access to documents. With well-sorted, organized and centralized data, entering new records would also be an easy task for the staff. Analyzing data prior to making a particular decision would be made quick and effective. Therefore, the company would be expected to run smoothly.
To help the employees use the Information System effectively, the company should ensure that members of the staff undergo training on how to use computers to record data, market through websites and book customers through the Information System.
The company needs external funding to be able to finance the new Information System. The new conference manager has already won a bid, but that is not enough. The hotel should be able to search for funds from other sources, especially the government. The hotel might also consider getting bank loans to be able to create systems that would market the hotel, and ensure that the earnings are increased to pay off the loans.
The information technology or system changes with the advancement of technology. Keeping up to date with the changes in technology would be expensive for the hotel and bring its downfall. The company is, therefore, required to review the information system at least annually. The system can be audited twice annually to determine if it is used accordingly, and if it is earning money as expected.
The systems are considered to work more effectively if the external and internal systems are interrelated.
Increasing profits is the main consideration of the company that caused the general manager to shift the objectives of the company to mainly conferencing. Therefore, the hotel business should only focus on projects that will assure increase in profits for the business. A business whose main business is making money may lose in terms of ethical values, which may cost it dearly in the future. Therefore, the second factor to be considered is customer care through enhanced performance of the company, improved staff training and care for the customers.
The project is to be prioritized to enable the use of remote internet conferencing. The company would be able to gain a competitive advantage over its rivals; hence, groups or organizations, especially international ones, would prefer Ivory Towers to others due to the availability of remote conferencing. Undertaking the project would also enable to install a local network in the hotel. Hence, communication between the computers in the hotel would be enhanced. Due to the project the number of staff members fearing to use the Internet because of increased costs would be reduced. The company would be forced to put in place a technical department to control the use and functioning of the system. The technical department would be cheaper to outsource initially, but in the long run, the company would have to establish its own technical department.
The use of the local area connection would enhance connectivity of the system. The created connection would enable the centralization of the hotel data. Customer care at the reception would be increased, and the staff would be relieved of other duties, thus ensuring maximum level of comfort for the clients. The hotel would also be able to eliminate mistakes that caused complaints from the clients.
While increasing earnings of the hotel, the general manager should consider getting funds to organize wedding receptions. This way the hotel would be able to have extra earning from wedding activities. The hotel lacks funds to provide some services, and therefore, it should outsource services for wedding activities, such as marquees, tables, chairs and cafeteria planners. Through it, the hotel would earn extra funding for hosting and providing the required space.
The hotel already gained fifty thousand pounds from the government, which can be used to provide remote conferencing. Therefore, launching remote conferencing is considered to be achievable.
To prove that creating a local area network is possible, John, the nephew of the general manager, began with networking the computers in the hotel. The networking system is, therefore, considered a possibility for the company. The company can rely on John instead of outsourcing the technical department to bring the network to function. The hotel would, therefore, incur less costs in installing the whole system of networking.
The hotel uses a hierarchical system to communicate messages from the general manager to the staff. The hotel has one general manager who implements policies, reports to auditors on the performance, prepares the budget and deals with client complaints. Through the centralized data system and hotel software the general manager may have the report generated by the system; hence his work would be made easier and faster. The manager would be able to regularly and accurately verify the fund utilization, thus being able to prepare a flexible and easily usable budget The centralization of data would enhance interconnection between the different departments. Therefore, the general manager would have access to the departmental reports and consolidate them for quick decision-making and enhanced performance. The system would also enable monitoring of the staff , which would improve the services offered and managerial control.
The assistant general manager has specialized mainly in maintaining accounts, to assist the general manager in budget preparation, billing conference organizers, billing delegates, and paying suppliers. Through the proposed information system the assistant general manager will be able to effect payments to suppliers in a timely manner to avoid possible conflicts. Billing delegates and conference organizers would also be faster, thus the employee morale would be boosted and performance increased.
The Information System would make the housekeeper’s job faster and convenient. The system would notify the housekeeper about availability of vacant rooms to ensure that the repairs and cleaning is done on time. The stores record would be kept by the system and notification of fall in amounts of required items would be more effective.
To ensure smooth running of catering, budgeting and forecasting for food and drinks, purchase of food and drink, setting menu with head chef and maintaining stores records, the catering manager would use the system to automate the daily routine, keep records of purchased items and put a mark recognized as low level to ensure the store never runs out.
The information systems or technology would allow for online reservations and bookings. Therefore, it is expected that the duty manager would be able to avoid conflicts witj clients by ensuring that records are made as they arrive and the rooms are checked for space. Security services would be easier to manage as the names are recorded, and searching for data at required times would be faster.
The conference manager’s task would also be made easy through checking clients’ requests and matching them with the existing conference rooms. Therefore, the customer management would be considered an easier and quicker task. The manager would have access to the Internet to check the emerging trends in technology to ensure the hotel stays stay updated with information systems or technology.