Delivering Services through Reduced Labor And Technology Automation

Ivan Imana, CIO, Adelman Travel
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Addressing a Diverse Audience through Technology Solutions

The biggest technology challenge in our industry is ensuring that the solutions presented are accepted by the millennials and future generations who have never experienced a world without internet or immediate feedback and have always had answers at their fingertips. It is not enough to provide technology that reacts to a request. Rather, we have to be proactive, know the needs and wants of our travelers, and provide options that are specific to each individual.

“It is not enough to provide technology that reacts to a request. Rather, we have to be proactive”

All generations are interested in receiving excellent customer service; however, I think each generation defines it a bit differently.  While previous generations may view good customer service as something that is provided by a human being on the other end of a phone line or in a face-to-face interaction, new generations of consumers expect superior customer service through the experiences they have online or via mobile devices.

The ideal technology provider is one that will easily allow Adelman to deliver dynamic, specific information about an individual while maintaining enterprise objectives, along with the ability to proactively reach out to these customers when an issue occurs that is beyond Adelman’s control.

A 360-Degree View of the Customer

This is a critical requirement of almost any business as intelligence regarding customers’ preferences is an expectation in the market place. However, this is a moving target along with technology that is changing at a rapid pace. When you select a product to enhance this process you have to have a high degree of confidence in the information being presented. I think that is a key component in getting this right. If your error rate is not extremely low, the solution loses credibility fairly quick. As CIO, I’m charged with seeking out partners and solutions that consistently improve our ability to provide that 360-degree view, to the end goal of improving the individual traveler experience while achieving overall corporate customer satisfaction.

Integration at the API Level with Organizations

One of the common themes in our industry is integration into multiple solutions. Creating good API’s and understanding web-services has given us the ability to integrate real-time with our partners, resulting in our ability to provide our customers with enhanced solutions and more comprehensive data. We have accomplished this by creating proprietary solutions and integrating at the API level with several organizations including: US Bank, Concur, CSI globalVCard, UVS, Tripit, and TripCase.

Role of IT at Adelman

IT over the years has evolved to be a trusted business advisor to all areas of the organization. Corporate travel is a complicated transaction-based business that seeks to achieve the procurement goals of our enterprise clients along with delivering exceptional service to each traveler. Traveling is a very personal experience and involves the integration of a diverse and large supplier environment.

Adelman is a business for profit, so key aspects of my duties are to understand and help the organization deliver on the top end of revenue or reduce expenses. At the same time, my viewpoint is technology centric, so I need to ensure that I’m maintaining compliance and data integrity while working on any objective. With that said, I need to translate the technology objective to a business objective.

The key aspect of my role is to be an advisor and content expert to the organization. One of the ways I achieve this is to present a simple portfolio matrix to the executive team of Adelman. This portfolio matrix looks at large projects and scores them based on key business objectives such as increasing revenue, differentiation of product, and retaining business; along with financial costs and internal and external effort. As an executive team Adelman decides what technology projects we work on and how those resources are used. My role is to make this understandable to the team based on these objectives.

Over half our transactions are completed without labor, so technology automation in delivering services and products is very important in our industry.

The other part of my role is to explain our technology strategy and solutions to our clients and prospects as technology is a key component to ensuring that their objectives related to managed travel are addressed.

Driving Process Transformation Efforts through IT

IT’s role at Adelman has become trusted advisor and a key service team for all of our clients, internal and external. The key aspect I have stressed to the organization, IT and enterprise-wide is that we should advise and consult with all business departments. In today’s business environment no one can achieve business objectives without involving some form of technology.

Adelman cannot exist without all members of the organization. IT is one part of the overall offering we bring to the market and, therefore, has to view itself as an integrated component of the whole, not as a separate silo.

Role of a CIO as an Ombudsman Between IT and Business

The role of the CIO at Adelman of being ombudsman between IT and business is a significant part of the position. Clearly describing risks, compliance requirements, and how the production of a solution can be achieved while staying in compliance from an operational and cost perspective are all part of the role of CIO at Adelman Travel.

The responsibility to execute and monitor the security process and solution, along with gauging the effectiveness of the strategy, belong to Adelman’s IT manager. It’s conceivable that the position as it relates to security could become a full-time one, though it may not necessarily be a C level position.

A Word Of Advice To The CIO’s Of Travel Business

Typically in any business model there are a lot of moving pieces that determine the profitability of the organization. My advice to anyone starting in this industry or another industry is to understand those different pieces and their impact to the business. Think business first. This helps you focus on the different priorities that will arise in your position.

In corporate travel specifically, we have to interact with a lot of suppliers and technology partners just to create a single transaction and a successful experience for our clients. So my other key piece of advice is that, even though technology is a key strategic component, travel is still a service industry first.

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