By: Mike Provost
“Give me a few minutes to dial in to their test environment…”
I caught myself typing this the other day, and it struck me as odd. I actually stopped to correct myself from using “dial in” and replaced it with “connect”.
Isn’t it odd how we still bat around the term “dial in”? I don’t think I’ve used a land-line phone modem to connect to anything since about 2000, and I haven’t used an actual rotary phone with a dial since maybe the early 1980’s. The term is pervasive and still widely accepted in modern technology as well. For example, most of the latest web/cloud-based online meeting software includes an area to specify a “dial in” conference line number.
Of course, the use of old terms like “dial in” in our everyday lives is pretty harmless. Even our youngest developers here use the term fluently (although some only know rotary-dial phones and “dial-up” modems as concepts). I certainly wouldn’t argue that usage of the term holds anyone back or impedes progress in any way, but there are cases where older terminology can tend to lock us into older concepts.
Many areas of the Hospitality industry are still geared to looking at operations as separate, modular entities, and most Hospitality software offerings still follow this legacy pattern. Oftentimes, we still speak in terms of “Central Reservations” being separate from “Property Management” or “Front Desk”, which is separate from “Accounting”, which is different than “Customer Relationship Management”, which is apart from “Sales and Catering”, etc. If you disagree, you probably haven’t attended a hotel Executive Committee meeting lately, to hear Front Office, F&B and Accounting Managers’ impassioned arguments for which department should get the $25 revenue from the new breakfast package. It can feel a bit like a hotel “Thunderdome” – Two managers enter; one manager leaves.
But just as different parts of our personal lives are becoming more interconnected, so are the different aspects of our industry. More and more, the lines are blurring. Today, a guest can go online to manage their hotel profile and membership, check and redeem points, book reservations, purchase property-level upgrades, and even access folios from past stays all in one online experience. Does it make any sense that to do the same thing, you have to log in and out of several different systems?
At MICROS, we don’t think that should be necessary anymore. So, we’re designing OPERA 9, the next generation of our OPERA Enterprise Solution, to move away from the modular “PMS vs. CRS” business model and into the more dynamic “Vertical Markets” business model. This rearranges the functionality into segments that are based on a user’s roles and responsibilities within the organization, rather than by their location. This means if some Call Center agents are empowered to look up past folios, or if some Account Managers are allowed access to review membership transactions, they can do so without having to log in to a separate system. In fact, OPERA 9 doesn’t even use the terms “PMS” and “CRS” anymore. It’s all one system, with access to functionality based on roles and licensing.
So, sometimes getting away from the older terms can clear the way for new innovation, and thinking outside of the box. Now, if I can just get my Texan wife “dialed in” to the idea that the word “icebox” is so 19th century… There’s a Thunderdome battle I’m not likely to win.