Hyatt Merges Financial And Operational Data - InformationWeek

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1/17/2006
03:54 PM
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Hyatt Merges Financial And Operational Data

With a little help from its beta-test vendor partner and some ambitious integration work, Hyatt Hotels begins to pull together financial performance management information and operational-level BI data into a common dashboard.

The product, called System 9, was in beta testing at the time. It represented an evolving philosophy and marketing strategy for the software vendor. Referring to financial performance management and BI, Hyperion's Clayton says, "We believe strongly that those two are becoming more integrated than ever before. IT departments are having to get smarter about the needs of financial departments. They can't avoid it. That means that IT will take more ownership of financial management and consolidation and forecasting. And if companies are going to be under cost pressure, they're going to look for products that bridge the two." Essentially, Hyperion fused its financial performance management offerings with its Brio-purchased BI systems -- financial consolidation, financial planning, analytical engines, reporting engines -- all of it delivered to the user via a common dashboard.

Hyatt was among the first of Hyperion's customers to adopt System 9. The installation began in October 2005 after Hyatt renegotiated its contract with Hyperion. (Neither company would disclose terms for this article. The price tag on an entry-level System 9 implementation would run about $50,000, says Clayton. Cost would vary, of course, according to the number of users and the complexity of the data sources on the backend.)

At first, Hyatt wanted a small-scale installation, delivering the System 9 dashboards to about 40 executive users. "This phase was a 'show-me-what-you-can-do' thing," says Barkat. "We simply wanted to understand the capability of the tools. The next stage will have a much bigger impact." The ultimate plan is to spread the system throughout the Hyatt organization to its many subsidiaries, in the U.S. and abroad, and to its individual properties -- full-blown operational BI. Eventually, hotel managers will have access to dashboards, so that everyone is on the same page, and so that local employees can make local decisions based on the same information viewed at headquarters.

In the meantime, Hyatt is still in the process of determining key metrics. And because Hyatt was a "beta site" for System 9, both vendor and user had to spend a few months working out some kinks. "There were implementation challenges," Barkat says, "but nothing more unusual than what you see with any test or beta software." In the testing phase, he goes on, "we had many performance issues, but 90 percent of those have been cleared up." At first, after each type of report was added to the application, response time on the dashboards was sluggish. It took 30 to 40 seconds for a screen to load, Barkat says. "But we have it down to five to eight seconds now."

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