Maurizio Caon is a self-confessed ‘outsider’ when it comes to hospitality, but he’s not a Les Roches guest lecturer for his hotelier knowledge. Maurizio is a specialist in digital transformation and the application of data to inform business strategy. We caught up with him to discuss his new role and the crucial set of digital skills he’s teaching students.
Thanks for taking the time to speak to us, Maurizio, tell us about your background.
As well as my role at Les Roches, I’m a Professor at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland (HES-SO), in particular working in the School of Management in Fribourg. I’m also Director of Design and Innovation at HumanTech Institute and the head of the Digital Business Centre, focusing on research on the impact of digitisation on our society, both in terms of social mobility and the economy.
‘…you need to be able to inform decisions and shape strategies through data…’
Why is it important for hospitality professionals to have tech and data expertise?
It’s essential that students understand how to retrieve and prepare data for analysis. If you want to work in the future companies of hospitality, you have to be ready, not just to understand this, but to have conversations with people who are working in this new domain.
Until recently, decision-making was based mainly on intuition and experience, now what you need to be able to do is inform decisions and shape strategies through data, which is quite different. Today’s hospitality professionals have to digitally reassure clients and customers, because that’s where the modern playing field is, supporting and funnelling them to the correct direction.
‘…digital tools are not disruptive by themselves.’
What skills will students gain from the Masters in Hospitality Strategy and Digital Transformation?
What’s important for students who are not engineers or technical experts to understand, is that digital tools are not disruptive by themselves. Technology can only be disruptive if you are able to use it in an opportune manner to achieve your goals.
This Master’s will provide students with the knowledge and competencies to leverage these technologies to execute a vision and strategy. In hospitality, it is very important businesses have people with the right knowledge and vision in order to be competitive in this digital age.
Graduates will be able to find data, analyze it, and process it to inform decisions. You can’t just think about the website or being polite at the reception in silo any more, you now have to have a holistic approach, you will need to know how to utilize email, livechat and other technologies, the modern career is really a cross-modality experience.
How can tech help businesses operate in the current crisis, and help them recover from it?
The desire for freedom will create a high demand straight after everything returns to normal, so the companies who connect with the people closed in their homes and are capable of making them dream and aspire to this sense of freedom, will be the ones that do well. You can communicate through social media, WhatsApp, YouTube, to build this distance relationship and say “we are here for you”.
Read more guest lecturer insight on the impact of digital transformation in hospitality: