IT Plays a Significant Role in Developing Strategies

Aaron Gette, CIO, The Bay Club Company
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Challenges and Expectations:

Fitness traditionally under invests in technology and although we are transitioning to a hospitality company, finding real value in embracing the enterprise is a challenge. We’ve been able to deliver great results, phasing in a vision that embraces public cloud, converged infrastructure and outsourced expertise. The next big initiatives for us are to leverage an IoT strategy, better utilize our data to provide true virtual concierge services and making the most of near field communication opportunities.

“We are all members of technology companies; truly you cannot compete in today’s globalized market without being a technology company”

1) 360-degree view of the customer
It’s really about identifying the right touch points; not just for collecting the data on how your customers are utilizing your services but how you then are able to touch your customers and provided a simple, personalized and smart experience for them. We are a dues based business and to keep you engaged and increase our stickiness, I’ve got to get you in the clubs, keep you spending and make it memorable. The better I understand how you’re moving through the properties, what services you’re using and when, I can tailor the experiences you and your family want every time you’re in the club.

2) Competitive edge:
There are so many platforms that could really help both hospitality and fitness IT leaders gain an edge in the Market. I’m focused on an IoT strategy and being more effective and efficient in delivering services to both staff and members with cloud and SaaS platforms. The more you understand your customers and can dynamically shift focus to provide them an unequalled experience keeps you one-step ahead of the competition.

3) Innovations:
Top of the list is innovation, are we creating the optimized environments to leverage our assets to continue to innovate. That is a key differentiator that I’m always thinking about, day and night. You can create better process and governance to set yourself up to innovate but then do you have the right people and partners to get you there. That’s secondarily but a close second at that. We may not be the sexiest new startup and I have to find creative ways to bring the right people and partners in. We do have a recognizable brand that certainly helps, but it starts with a culture that champions risk takers and innovators who have a keen sense of the business and the role they play directly in its success.

4) Technology trends:
All of these are keys to the business’ overall success and IT plays a significant role in developing strategies that successfully address them all. For us, it’s embracing IoT and leveraging the investment we’ve made in cloud to better serve up a mobile experiences, actually a truly engaged mobile experience that extends the customer service that’s expected of the bay club. That drives engagement and keeps us sticky with our members.

We are all members of technology companies; truly you cannot compete in today’s globalized market without being a technology company. The technology that allows you to better shape your product, better understand your customer, and better your competition is what drives all businesses. Even the street vendors have mobility and data analytics these days.

5) Role as CIO:
We are involved at every stage of the decision process, whether it be finance, operations, retail or customer service. The way we all consume technology these days have forever changed the culture of all people. We now come to the table in our respective areas of expertise with our own notions of how technology should work and how it makes the business better. We are a part of the fabric and less a cog in the machine that turns the wheel. It allows the CIO to be less reactive, more predictive and truly drive the conversation around where the business can go and how technology gets us there.

a. IT’s new role at your company”
You have to provide real tangible value. That is the shift, and there is no other way to approach it. It starts small with real wins that change the customer experience and reduce attrition while driving ancillary revenues. Building street cred and having results that move areas of the business that dint’ think that they were part of the platform. That gets you in the door and then it’s making the most of the opportunities to change the way management and investors understand the role technology plays in the business’ success. Change management no matter the platform or technology is always the biggest challenge so creating your evangelists in the filed and around the organization is crucial.

6) Security:
We all need to do more to enable a leader in our organizations to protect the business from eminent threats. I really like the idea of a CSO role and one who looks at the technologies as much as the people and culture of an organization. The reality is you can program a machine to do anything, but people are people and without understanding the relationships they have with you, your staff and the organization it’s difficult to predict how people with ultimately protect or open your organization up to attacks. That is the future of security as the old ways of looking at threats and mitigating risk no longer apply.

7) Advice to a CIO:
I’m in an interesting position as we have transitioned from a luxury fitness brand to a lifestyle company steeped in hospitality. The two industries are both a world apart and very similar at the same time. I’d say as an outsider, it’s both a great challenge and opportunity to revolutionize an industry. We are changing the way people think about fitness and health as well as creating a new market dynamic around the family and how we find happiness in the experiences we create at our modernized country clubs. Be prepared to leverage the successes you’ve found in other industries, find the bridges to how that experience and knowledge lends itself to a fitness industry that is eager to leverage technology.

 

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