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“Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.”
– Leonardo da Vinci

I wish.

It has indeed been a long time since I last posted. Maybe 18 months or more. I know that you have all been devastated at the silence!

What happened, you may ask?

Well, in short, I changed direction and set up a new venture, Dobiquity (www.dobiquity.com) which is a unique software service that helps hospitality SMEs to save time and money, work smarter and make better decisions by digitising important operational tasks. It’s been a hard slog to get the business off the ground, but we’ve recently secured significant private investment and momentum is now building fast. Onwards and upwards as they say.

Don’t worry I’m not going to spend my first post back trying to promote Dobiquity, but I have learned a few things over the course of launching the business that I think are worth sharing, particularly with regard to ‘digitisation’ in our industry. Here’s a few thought-provokers to ponder:

1. The first wave of digitisation in hospitality focused on the company-customer interface
Digitisation presents tremendous opportunities for businesses to better engage with their customers and the hospitality industry – or at least the larger players – has embraced those opportunities with both hands. In many respects, the industry is leading the way when it comes to using all forms of technology to better engage with customers, and there are some really great products out there that help operators extend their reach and measure impact. As with most advancements, at the level of the SME the uptake is not as pronounced but most hospitality operators – regardless of the size of their enterprise – are pretty digital-savvy these days. That’s not the case in all industries, so credit is due.

2. The second wave of digitisation in hospitality will focus on internal digitisation
Often, by nature, we tend to look externally for ‘new opportunities’ but digitisation, and particularly cloud-based software, presents significant opportunities to transform internal operations in order to save time and money, work smarter and make better decisions. With regard to this aspect of digitisation, our industry can unfortunately be considered a real laggard: you only have to look at any hospitality operation to see the range of daily tasks that are still manual or paper-based when they could easily be made more efficient using technology. A classic example of this is on-the-job training which – if it happens at all – is usually accompanied by paper checklists and training records. Add to that the tree-killing SOP manuals that supposedly accompany the process but never actually see the light of day. This is just one critical operational activity that is ripe for digitisation.

Think of other tasks too like hygiene and safety management, complaint handling, accident reporting etc. and you’ll see that as an industry we have been extremely slow to make the move to digital. And the digital lag is even more extreme at the level of the SME, with one EU study in 2015 showing that ‘only 19% of SMEs in the hospitality sector were making use of cloud services’.

This tech lag intrigued me.

You’d imagine that operators in our industry would be looking for every opportunity to drive down costs and improve efficiency but this is not the case. And particularly for SMEs digitisation could help to level the playing field by allowing operators to do more with less.

To better understand why the digital uptake is so low, I conducted research amongst 100 hospitality SME operators in Ireland and UK. A couple of interesting points emerged from the study:

  • When asked whether they would like to ‘do more digitally’ at an operational level, over 80% of the respondents expressed strong interest in embracing technology , yet most had not done so; indeed, many were frustrated at this failing.
  • Five factors emerged as being key barriers to internal digitisation, and in reverse order of importance included:

# 5. ‘Technophobia’ – Many respondents indicated that they weren’t technically-minded
themselves and this was a barrier to them using cloud-based solutions and technology generally.
# 4. Implementation Logistics – An important concern expressed was how the
technology would be used within the operation, who would manage the account day-to-day etc.
# 3. Cost Implications – Most managers were concerned about what the set-up and on-going costs
associated with the technology would be.
# 2. Security Concerns – All those interviewed identified the risk of data or service loss
as a significant inhibitor to embracing digitisation.
# 1. Multiple Sign-Ups – The greatest barrier identified by respondents was the fact
that to digitise many tasks meant signing up with multiple providers which was
cumbersome and costly.

A ‘lack of time’ to explore options was also frequently cited.

In response to these findings I decided to establish Dobiquity (www.dobiquity.com), a cloud-based platform that allows hospitality operators to digitise multiple operational tasks from the same place. Our platform cuts out the need to sign up with multiple app providers, and our apps are simple to set up and use making it really easy and affordable to do more digitally. At present we have apps that digitise operational activities like quality management, customer feedback, employee engagement and training with lots more to follow in the months and years ahead.

What we have found since launching Dobiquity in late 2015 is that managers in the hospitality industry are indeed slow to embrace new things – or are so caught up in the day-to-day stuff that it takes time to get around to trying new things – but we’ve also found that when our customers do subscribe to Dobiquity they have seen huge benefits in terms of cost savings and efficiency gains by using our apps.

Anyway, I did say this wasn’t a sales pitch for the new venture, but it has been interesting to see how conservative our industry is at times, and how our resistance to change can cause us to miss out on tangible opportunities for business development and growth.

Well, that’s it folks. I’m going to start posting as much as I can again from now on, so stay tuned!

I’ll end as I began – with a quote.

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
John F. Kennedy

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