Andrew Main, CEO and Founder of SerTech Exchange, a platform putting the best world-class technologies companies together, in conversation with Markus Schneider.
We set up our consultancy to support business process transformation for sustainable profitability with tailored digital transformation solutions.
Markus Schneider Solutions is a channel partner of SerTech Exchange, the global technology platform that brings together best-in-class digital providers from around the world for hospitality and service-centric businesses.
Here Andrew Main, Founder and CEO of SerTech Exchange talks to Markus about what the business will deliver for hospitality clients worldwide.
AM: What is Markus Schneider Solutions all about?
MS: My consultancy exists to enable hospitality industry leaders to gain a competitive advantage over their competitors.
Working in partnership with hospitality leaders and their teams, we help to create and implement sustainable innovative processes by utilising digital technology to transform the business, without diluting our clients’ values and identity.
AM: How did you come up with the idea of offering digital transformation solutions specifically for the hospitality industry?
MS: I’ve had the privilege over the last three decades to work for some fantastic and well-known hotel and hospitality companies in many different countries – mostly in Asia with a four year spell in Egypt. I started in the kitchen and worked my way up to general manager. My last position before starting my own consultancy was as Chief Operating Officer.
I have always been fascinated by technical developments. I remember when the first digital cameras appeared on the market and my grandfather said, ‘Oh this will never survive and replace the traditional camera’ – which has certainly proved to be wrong! I’ve been following the breathtaking speed of AI technology development over recent decades and seeing the impact it’s having on our industry.
I’ve seen how some industries benefitted from being early adopters of digital transformation to gain a competitive advantage, such as banking, automobile, the airline industry, logistics and Formula 1 to name but a few. Companies like Uber, Amazon and Facebook use digital technology to the maximum without losing the connection to their core business which is transportation, retail, and marketing.
I want to bring these same benefits to the hospitality industry.
Over all the years owners and hotel companies invested a lot of money into tech, but I always felt it was never completely thought through. In many cases, a technology company came up with a new product, which was then purchased, and customers and employees had to be trained to work with it, whether it was right for the business or not. This often created a lot of pain, made work complicated and wasted time and money.
I don’t even want to talk about all the issues around interfaces and inaccurate data!
In 2016, I started to work with some brilliant developers and realised that the hotel and hospitality industry should not waste their efforts, time and money investing in ‘IT Departments’, but would benefit more from working with the best technology development companies together as partners to find the best sustainable solutions to their specific business needs.
AM: Markus Schneider Solutions is clearly not a classic consultancy. How are your services different?
MS: I believe that for a business process transformation to be successful, you need to identify the root problem first before coming up with a sustainable, innovative solution. This must be done from within the organisation, as it’s essential to work within its capabilities.
Department heads and managers from different departments need to spend time together to transparently discuss and share problems, thoughts and ideas in an open-minded way. This can be challenging as people may feel they, or their departments, are blamed for problems and become defensive, or they believe solutions cannot be delivered.
As an independent consultant, with decades of practical experience, I can coach the team through this process to help them keep the business goal front and centre.
I help to mitigate any tensions which may come up during these sessions. I want to get the best out of the team and have a clear belief there are no stupid ideas: anything we can think about is possible. I then work with chosen technology partners to find the best digital solutions to achieve each client’s business process transformation.
I see myself effectively as a performance enhancer who brings out the best in my clients’ existing teams.
AM: What are your biggest worries about leading digital transformations in the hospitality sector?
MS: There are plenty of pressures, but I don’t have any worries!
I see this as an opportunity to really manage the game in the way that we equip staff and take them on the transformation journey with us.
To achieve winning business outcomes, it’s critical to work as a team with the organisation’s employees, the best technology partners and whoever else needs to be involved.
But it must be a real transformation journey. We’re not looking at digital transformation as a sort of ‘bumper sticker’ or buzzword, but as a way to deliver real, lasting, sustainable change.
Provided I get full commitment from the leaders, owners and stakeholders in my clients’ organisations, and we have the same understanding that transformation is about changing the way we work to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage, we have a winning formula.
AM: What about interface issues?
MS: It’s true that there can be interface issues between client POS, back and front of house systems and other technology systems. The main challenges are normally around interoperability, data management, security & privacy and responsiveness.
In the past few years, some excellent technology providers have developed ways of using the Cloud as an inexpensive, simple and fast interface platform, and things are becoming easier and easier as we proceed.
In addition, our technology partners will ensure that interfaces are as painless and cost-effective as possible, and will cause minimal business interruptions during the transformation process.