When Apple recently released their iPhone 7, consumers were surprised (and even outraged) to find the company had removed its headphone jack – requiring users to rely solely on relatively pricey wireless headphones. While no doubt a bold move from Apple, will this strategy end up being hailed as a smart move or a potential misstep on the company’s behalf?
While time can only tell the impact this will have on the sales of wireless headphones, future iPhones and the strategic path forward for all smartphones, its initial consumer reaction prompts discussions around the driving strategies behind any product evolution. Similar to today’s sophisticated smartphones, revenue management solutions are also upgraded, innovated upon and streamlined to give users better revenue performance, cutting-edge design and a seamless experience. But how do companies decide which features to change, enhance and – sometimes more importantly – which features to remove entirely?
With recent iPhone 7 memes flooding my Instagram feed, I jumped at the opportunity to sneak in ten minutes with David Wilker, senior manager of product management, at an after-work happy hour to dive in deeper around the innovative strategies driving our solutions.
AM: Thinking about the evolution of revenue management industry, what would you say are some of the top considerations driving today’s revenue technology?
DW: We’ve seen an enormous cultural shift in not only the available industry data, but in the dynamics between the hotel and its guests. Hotel marketing and communication programs have transitioned from direct, personal and one-to-one into a more digital guest relationship. Accounting for this change plays a large part in how hotels can use big data in their analytics, technology and revenue strategy. Thoughtfully incorporating big data and predictive analytics into technology – as well as using analytics that can personalize the guest experience – are two huge considerations that our solutions have been using to enhance and refine our product features and capabilities.
AM: One thing that hasn’t changed from an IDeaS product standpoint over the years is the company’s position on system decisions, rather than recommendations. Why has IDeaS always taken such a strong stance on providing solutions with automated decisions?
DW: One of the biggest benefits our technology provides is a management-by-exception style of hotel strategy. Hotels might use technology that provides insights that a spreadsheet or manual process can’t, but they still have to spend a lot of time making manual changes – and this leaves a large margin for human error in doing so. This approach has always seemed counterintuitive to what our clients are looking for their revenue technology to solve. By providing solutions that automatically distribute pricing and inventory controls to their selling systems, our clients can focus their time on effective revenue strategies that set them apart from their competitors.
AM: What role do IDeaS’ clients play in developing new product features?
DW: Our clients drive every product enhancement and change we make. We, as a company, look to our clients to test our pilot programs, hold one-on-one discovery conversations and provide client feedback platforms that gauge and improve the product experience from our clients’ perspectives.
In fact, one of my favorite conversations with Ravi is around this industry transition from dark to light, or night to day. We are seeing a dramatic difference from where we were 10 years ago to where we are today. We want to provide a continuous product evolution that makes the client journey into new insights, capabilities and strategies seamless and easy – so clients don’t have to feel any hardship of all this industry change.