By Carol Hildebrand
From mobile to big data, digital technologies are driving significant change in the way hotels and food and beverage companies do business. Guests expect personalized, interactive service—and they don’t want to have to find a concierge in order to get it. Oracle editor Carol Hildebrand sat down with Mike Webster, senior vice president and general manager of Oracle Hospitality, to get his take on the technologies and best practices that can help hospitality companies survive and thrive.
Hildebrand: Oracle Hospitality is a new global business unit for Oracle. What can you tell us about it?
Webster: We are centered on MICROS Systems solutions and MICROS’ 35 years of service to the hospitality industry. MICROS was already a very large Oracle partner and we’re going to continue to enrich and deepen the integration between our technology and the MICROS application portfolio. On the Oracle side, we bring a strong commitment to innovation, and a set of investments that allow us to leverage best practices at Oracle on a global scale. What’s exciting is that the combination of these two great brands creates an opportunity to leverage a portfolio that has never been seen within the hospitality industry before.
Hildebrand: What’s the biggest opportunity you see for hospitality customers?
SVP and GM Mike Webster leads Oracle's new business unit, Oracle Hospitality.
Webster: Oracle Hospitality now offers customers a much broader set of offerings than MICROS had on its own, ranging from MICROS’ property management and point-of-sale applications, to applications like Oracle Commerce, Oracle Marketing, and Oracle Business Intelligence. We’re going to accelerate the deployment of those applications to our secure and scalable cloud infrastructure and we’re going to optimize them to run more efficiently, at lower cost, on the Oracle stack. It’s consistent with our entire strategy around vertical applications that are deployed on the cloud and engineered to work better with Oracle technology.
Hildebrand: Does the hospitality industry need to move to the cloud faster?
Webster: The pace at which the guest experience is changing is driving hoteliers and restaurants to move to cloud technology very rapidly. They want to move the complexity and the cost of delivering those guest experiences off the property. They don’t want to have a lot of servers running underneath counters in restaurants, and they want to avoid the complexity of managing on premises applications in their hotels. Oracle is accelerating that transition with the acquisition of MICROS.
Oracle Hospitality is changing the way the world looks at the hospitality industry.Learn more about Oracle Hospitality
Hildebrand: At the same time customers are also reaping the benefits of Oracle’s scale?
Webster: It obviously gives them a global footprint. It gives us faster time to market. And again, we think it’s going to reduce the cost and complexity of delivery and deployment of the MICROS applications.
Hildebrand: How does this play out in the mobile world?
Webster: MICROS was already a leading innovator in bringing mobile solutions to hospitality. With Oracle, we’re going to expand the choices that enterprises have, both in terms of the underlying platform, as well as the number of hardware devices that are available. We’re accelerating our investment in Oracle mobile standards, as well as bringing out new mobile tablets to help our customers better serve their guests.
Hildebrand: So it’s a matter of going to the guests rather than making them come to you.
Webster: Yes. The idea is to get the hotel staff shoulder-to-shoulder with guests, so they don’t have to line up at a counter. Mobile means that staff members can walk around and help the guests and greet them as they arrive at the property. And the same story applies if you think about taking mobile technology to a restaurant table so we can offer order processing and payment support. I think it goes back to how we’re going to accelerate innovation and invest more aggressively in mobile applications.
Hildebrand: How does Oracle Hospitality help with the innovation factor?
Webster: First, our business model enables that. We have a very large global team dedicated to building an innovative guest experience. At the foundation of that model is our ability to leverage the power of Oracle’s red stack. We have access to more technologies, more tools, and more resources than MICROS had as an Oracle partner, and we’re going to take full advantage of those.
Finally, it’s going to come down to our global deployment and support model. It’s about leveraging cloud and our implementation best practices so that we can reduce the time it takes to deliver our solutions to market.
Hildebrand: What can customers look forward to in terms of future enhancements?
Webster: Prior to the acquisition by Oracle, MICROS was already transitioning from legacy products to cloud products and we will continue to support that path. It’s really a matter of responding to the market demand for a more flexible, lower-cost solution.
In terms of R&D, Oracle has a very rich tradition of investing in research and development and a strong commitment to innovation. Not only will we be refocusing MICROS’ R&D spending on things that our customers demand, but we will also be improving the quality of the products.
Hildebrand: What does the path ahead look like for Oracle Hospitality?
Webster: Our simple strategy is we want to build the broadest and deepest portfolio of solutions for the hospitality industry. We want to deliver that by attracting and developing and retaining the best team in the industry, and finally, by curating a community of customers and partners that is focused on success. If we can do those things, we’re going to create value for the community and we’re going to create value for Oracle.