Friday, July 29, 2011

Discover Case Study: How IHG Has Deployed and Benefited from Increased App Testing

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast from the HP Discover conference on how InterContinental Hotels Group has reduced time and cost in app development.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Podcast.com. Download the transcript. Sponsor: HP.

Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to a special BriefingsDirect podcast from the recent HP Discover 2011 conference in Las Vegas. We're here to explore some major enterprise IT solution trends and innovations making news across HP’s ecosystem of customers, partners, and developers.

I'm Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and I'll be your host throughout this series of HP-sponsored Discover live discussions.

Our latest user case study focuses on InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). We're going to be looking at what they are doing around automation and unification of applications, development and deployment, specifically looking at software as a service (SaaS) as a benefit, and how unification helps bring together performance, but also reduce complexity costs over time.

To help guide us through this use-case, we're here with Brooks Solomon, Manager of Test Automation at InterContinental. Welcome to BriefingsDirect.

Brooks Solomon: Thank you, Dana. Pleasure to be here.

Gardner: Give me a sense of the scope and size of your operations?

Solomon: InterContinental Hotels Group is the largest hotel company by number of rooms. We have 645,000 rooms, 4,400 hotels, with seven different brands, and the largest and first hotel loyalty program with 58 million members.

The majority of the hotels, 3,500 or so, are in the US and the others are distributed around the world. We're going to be expanding to China more and more over the next few years.

Gardner: How about in terms of numbers of applications and scope and size of your IT operations?

Solomon: I couldn’t list the number of applications we have. The majority of the revenue comes from four major applications that are consumer-facing

Gardner: What were the high-level takeaways from your presentation at Discover?

Solomon: We use HP’s testing software all the way from Quality Center (QC), through Quick Test Professional (QTP), through LoadRunner, up into the Business Availability Center (BAC) tool. I've talked about how we get to the process of BAC and then how BAC benefits us from a global perspective.

I couldn’t list the number of applications we have. The majority of the revenue comes from four major applications that are consumer-facing.



Gardner: Let’s get into that a little bit. Obviously, reservations, rewards, customer-facing web, and self-service type of functionality are super-important to you. Give us a sense of what you're doing with those sorts of apps and how critical they really are for you?

Solomon: The apps that we generate support the majority of IHG’s revenue and, if they're not customer-facing, they're a call-center application. If you call 1-800 Holiday Inn, that kind of thing, you'll get a reservation agent somewhere around the world wherever you are. Then, that agent will actually tap into another application that we developed to generate the reservation from there.

Gardner: A lot of test and development organizations have been early adopters of SaaS and cloud functionality. What’s the breakdown with your use of products? Do you have an on-premise portion or percentage in SaaS? How does that break down for you?

SaaS monitors

Solomon: We use SaaS and we have a private use of SaaS. Going back to our call-center applications, there are local centers around the world, and we've installed SaaS monitors at those facilities. Not only do we get a sense of how the agent’s response time and availability is from their centers, we also get a full global view from customers and how their experience is, wherever they maybe.

Gardner: In terms of your developers, your testing, and your application life-cycle to what degree are the tools that you're using SaaS-based?

Solomon: Right now the only SaaS-based tool we have is the BAC. The other HP tools that we use are in-house.

Gardner: When you move toward lifecycle benefits, do you have any sense of what that’s done for you, either at a cost and efficiency level within IT, or most importantly, at the customer level in terms of satisfaction and trust?

Solomon: Without the automated suite of tools that we have, we couldn’t deliver our products in a timely fashion and with quality. We have an aggressive release schedule every two weeks, distributing new products, new applications, or bug fixes for things that have occurred. Without the automated regression suite of tools that we have, we couldn’t get those out in time. Having those tools in place allows us approximately a 75 percent reduction in cost.

Gardner: Having gone through this process, to move into that level of efficiency, do you have any 20/20 hindsight things that you may have done differently with that knowledge or that you might pass along as advice to our listeners?

Without the automated suite of tools that we have, we couldn’t deliver our products in a timely fashion and with quality.



Solomon: I would say just to define the core functionality of your applications and automate those first. Then, once new enhancements come along and there are business-critical type transactions, I would include those in your automated suite of tools and tests.

Gardner: How about your thoughts for the future? Do you have any purchases or acquisitions or tools you're looking to adopt in the future? Do you have a roadmap?

Solomon: We're coming off of a mainframe reservation system and we are converting that into service oriented architecture (SOA). So, we’ve recently purchased HP service tests. We hope that acquisition would help us automate all of our services coming off the mainframe. We're going to do that on a gradual basis. So, we're going to be automating those as they come online.

Gardner: Very good. We've been talking about application lifecycle management and productivity. Our guest has been Brooks Solomon, Manager of Test Automation at InterContinental Hotels Group, based in Atlanta.

Thanks to our audience for joining this special BriefingsDirect podcast, coming to you from the HP Discover 2011 Conference in Las Vegas.

I'm Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host for this series of user experience discussions. Thanks again for listening, and come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Podcast.com. Download the transcript. Sponsor: HP.

Transcript of a BriefingsDirect podcast from the HP Discover conference on how InterContinental Hotel Group has reduced time and cost in app development. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2011. All rights reserved.

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