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Growing Business

Beyond Technology

by Alan Joch

May 2016

To support its data-driven customer-service activities, Fairmont Raffles Hotels International (FRHI) took an innovative approach to the internal structure of its IT and digital marketing staffs. This was born of the realization that even having the best technology doesn’t guarantee successful customer engagement. “It’s all about how the business can use technology to better serve customers,” says Vineet Gupta, CIO at FRHI.

Snapshot

    Fairmont Raffles Hotels International

    Headquarters: Toronto, Canada

    Employees: 45,000

    Industry: Hospitality

    Oracle products: Oracle MICROS; Oracle Marketing Cloud, including Oracle Responsys; Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition; Oracle Essbase; Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud; Oracle Hyperion Planning

Vineet Gupta

    CIO

    Length of tenure: 18 years

    Education: Bachelor of Engineering degree, McGill University; Master of Engineering degree, Concordia University; MBA, University of Western Ontario

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As a result, Gupta and FRHI’s chief marketing officer have cultivated a close working relationship with each other. “My goals and the CMO’s goals are totally in sync,” Gupta says. “We are held accountable for common goals, which sets the stage for making sure the teams work together successfully.”

Fairmont Raffles Hotels International (FRHI)

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Close collaboration extends throughout the IT and business departments. “We’re always looking at the technologies from the business perspective, including what are the biggest pain points the company is facing,” says Tanya Pratt, vice president of central business applications at FRHI. “We then talk with the business to see if some new technology or an enhancement to what we have can address those pain points. So it’s not just having a shiny new toy. It’s how effective will the technology be and how easy will it be to implement and train people to use it.” To facilitate these conversations, FRHI leaders structured the IT and marketing departments to facilitate close collaboration. “Even though we sit in IT, everyone on this staff comes from the business side,” says Pratt, who herself spent 12 years in the company’s business operations before moving to the IT department. “So those responsible for implementing marketing technologies, for example, have worked in marketing, and those responsible for sales technologies have worked in sales. We realized there is a wide gap in communications when you get purely technical people talking to the purely business people, because both sides don’t know what they don’t know.” Further oversight of cross-functional projects comes from an enterprise project management office, whose leader reports to Gupta. In addition, the CIO is part of a steering committee—which also includes the CMO and the head of finance—that meets every week to review program goals and milestones. “In this way we avoid finger-pointing and instead work together for successful joint solutions,” Gupta says.

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