Bob Friday, VP and AI Chief Scientist, Juniper Networks

Luxury Hotelier, Jumeirah Group, Enhances Personalized Visitor Service | Juniper Global Summit

Global Summit 2021 Leadership Voices Operations
Bob Friday
Split-screen from video of Bob Friday, VP and AI Chief Scientist, Juniper Networks and Sanjay Sharma, Head of IT, Jumeirah Group talking about providing business IT services to hotel guests.

Provide service beyond expectations.

To provide exceptional service, luxury hotelier Jumeirah Group aims to anticipate guest needs and fulfill them in the preferred channel of the guests. Watch this interview with the head of IT to hear how Jumeirah Group transformed the digital experience while keeping operations invisible to guests.

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You’ll learn

  • How to meet and exceed customer expectations in the hospitality industry

  • Key initiatives that help Jumeirah Group improve the guest experience

  • How Juniper solutions allow further personalized user experiences

Who is this for?

Business Leaders Network Professionals


Bob Friday
Bob Friday
VP and AI Chief Scientist, Juniper Networks

Guest speakers

Sanjay Sharma
Sanjay Sharma
Head of IT, Jumeirah Group



0:00 [music]

0:07 -Thank you for joining me at this year's Juniper's Global Summit.

0:10 I' m Bob Friday, CTO of Juniper' s AI-Driven Enterprise.

0:14 Joining me today is Sanjay Sharma.

0:17 He' s the head of information technology

0:19 at Jumeirah Group, which is a luxury hotel brand.

0:22 Sanjay, thank you for joining us. It' s great to have you here.

0:25 -Thank you, Bob. It' s my pleasure to be here with you.

0:29 -Maybe we can start the conversation.

0:31 Ever since I' ve known you, guest experience

0:34 has been something dear to your heart.

0:36 Maybe you can start with the audience saying to them,

0:39 Sanjay, what is your Jumeirah Group' s vision for the guest

0:42 experience at a luxury hotel post-COVID?

0:45 -That' s a really good question.

0:47 I think this is the basic foundation I believe, which

0:50 will help us to transform or basically realize our vision.

0:54 If you ask me, we have a few key strategies.

0:58 One of the key pillar for our strategy is service beyond expectation.

1:03 Bob, I believe that in this digital age, if you have to provide a service

1:07 beyond expectation, then you need to anticipate what your guest need.

1:12 You need to deliver it in the preferred channel of your guest.

1:16 This is something which is actually only the digital

1:20 world can enable to the hospitality world.

1:24 As of now, our key strategy is to ensure that we can

1:28 realize that by having three kind of key initiatives.

1:32 The first initiative is how we can transform the digital

1:37 experience of our guest so that it can result in a happy customer.

1:42 Trust me, Bob, a happy customer is a very--

1:45 if I may say so, "abused word."

1:47 It is used so much, but it is really difficult to make

1:50 your customer happy in this age where they have liquid expectation.

1:54 They actually see something on Instagram and they believe

1:57 that it will be available in hospitality space also.

2:01 That is a real big challenge.

2:03 The second thing is that what we do is that we actually

2:06 capture the digital footprint of all our guests,

2:09 which actually give us the right kind of data on which we can

2:12 develop our AI model to anticipate what our guests would need.

2:17 The third and most important thing is that we need

2:19 to make our operations invisible to our guests.

2:23 Just take the example of any hotel.

2:27 Once you go there, you might have to go

2:29 and check-in at a reception or a front desk.

2:33 The fact is you go there Bob, just to get

2:37 the operational requirements of the hotel fulfilled.

2:42 There is nothing in it for you.

2:46 We just want to make all this process invisible.

2:48 We want to move our organization from

2:50 automation to autonomous world.

2:56 -Thank you, Sanjay.

2:57 What resonates with me is making aesthetically happy customers.

3:00 That' s something also dear to my heart. I thank you for joining us today.

3:05 When you started, I think he started at Jumeirah

3:07 Group around 2018 or so when I first met you.

3:10 Maybe you can explain to the audience a little bit about

3:12 some of the network challenges you faced when you got there.

3:15 How Juniper Mist helped you with some of those challenges.

3:18 Where are you really headed with this?

3:22 -Bob, if you don' t mind, I' ll just break that response into two parts.

3:26 The first part is the operational challenges.

3:28 The operational challenges like we have dead spots.

3:32 We do not have high bandwidth.

3:36 We are very reactive in managing our network challenges.

3:41 These were the kinds of problems,

3:42 which we were facing.

3:44 The other thing, which is more profound, is how we can

3:50 get access to this data, what our users are doing?

3:54 Where they are right now? How they' re connecting?

3:58 Which device do they use?

4:00 Which application platform do they use?

4:02 All these things were almost invisible to us.

4:05 We don' t have any visibility for such things.

4:08 If I just need to summarize it, there were some operational challenges,

4:12 which I believe we could have resolved with any network provider.

4:17 Then there were some transformative gaps,

4:20 if I may say so, which were missing in our network solution.

4:25 These are the kind of challenges, which we were facing when I joined.

4:30 -I think also Sanjay, for me, when we first started Mist;

4:34 it was really all about that end-to-end connectivity

4:37 and bringing that visibility out for customers.

4:39 Part of that was all really around these business outcomes.

4:43 When you look at these wireless networks,

4:45 they' re becoming more and more business-critical.

4:48 Since I' ve been in the industry, I've watched them go from a nice-to-have

4:51 to a must-have to mobility is really business-critical now.

4:55 For Jumeirah Group and you, what comes in the business outcomes

4:58 you' re really looking to get out of your network nowadays.

5:01 -I love this discussion.

5:03 Bob actually if you ask me, it is all about the outcome.

5:07 We can have the best technology, which can power the operations

5:12 and customers in Jumeirah,

5:15 but unless it brings the right outcome,

5:17 I believe it' s a failed initiative.

5:20 If you ask me, there is one thing, which is what you can say,

5:25 is like oxygen and that is the connectivity.

5:29 Our guests need connectivity.

5:31 Our colleagues need connectivity so that they can

5:35 serve our guests in the right fashion.

5:38 That is what I would say is at the heart of our infrastructure.

5:43 The biggest outcome is not in terms of

5:48 how fast you can connect, whether you have connectivity

5:52 everywhere, or you have reduced number of tickets.

5:56 For me, the biggest business outcome is that we are giving

6:02 speed to innovate to our business colleagues.

6:06 We are providing an ability to our employees

6:11 so that they can think in an unconstrained fashion.

6:16 If you see that you actually expose the entire data set, that insight

6:21 about our consumer behavior in the form of APIs, in the form of dashboard,

6:26 then basically everything is left only to the imagination

6:31 of our business colleague what they want to achieve with this.

6:34 This is something, which is really important.

6:37 I can give you a few example, Bob.

6:40 Sometime back if you all know that we had

6:44 a real tough time when we were hit by COVID-19.

6:48 Do you know it has a profound impact on human behavior also?

6:53 Suddenly contactless was something, which is of paramount importance.

6:58 Everyone want to consume the service,

7:01 but they didn' t want to touch the lift button.

7:03 They didn' t want to touch the menu.

7:04 They didn' t want to

7:05 have any physical interaction with so many physical objects.

7:11 At that point in time, we launched a solution called e-Menu.

7:14 I must share with you that our solution is not any solution, which you see

7:20 in many properties where you have a very brochure-based application.

7:25 It was an application which can allow our guests

7:30 to connect from anywhere in our property.

7:32 We have a two-kilometer-long beach.

7:35 Our guests would be there at any corner of our beach.

7:40 They can actually use the e-Menu to place the f&b order.

7:44 It was directly connected to the printer at our kitchen,

7:50 which actually brings us operational efficiency.

7:53 Let me tell you, Bob, where the icing on the cake was.

7:58 I was there at a pool with one of my friend

8:01 who was trying this e-Menu application.

8:04 He placed the order.

8:05 After placing the order, he said, "Sanjay, there

8:07 is one fundamental flaw in your application.

8:10 It has never asked me from where I am placing the order.

8:13 It has not asked me to enter the table number.

8:15 How will it know that you need to deliver the order here?"

8:20 This is the beauty of location service.

8:22 Trust me, Bob, after a few minutes when the waiter actually

8:26 delivered the f&b order at his sunbed,

8:31 he was totally surprised.

8:33 This is the kind of icing on the cake.

8:35 This is what I talk about business outcome.

8:37 These small delights, which we get for our consumer is the game-changer.

8:43 -Sanjay, for me personally,

8:46 making indoor location on par with Wi-Fi,

8:49 I' ve been wanting to have my mantras throughout my career right now.

8:51 That' s dear to my heart when you say that.

8:55 The other thing I wanted to touch upon here is, I read somewhere

9:00 that 90% of the people in the world have clean water, electricity now.

9:04 I think we' re up to 66% of the people in the world now have mobile Internet.

9:09 I remember 10 years ago when I went to a hotel, Wi-Fi was a crisis.

9:14 That was back when Wi-Fi first came out

9:16 and the hotels, hospitality were all over it.

9:19 Maybe for our audience, you can say a little bit where does Wi-Fi,

9:23 mobile Internet fit in the priorities of hospitality business, hotel business?

9:28 For me personally, it's clean room, hot water.

9:31 Where does the mobile Internet and Wi-Fi fit

9:33 into the priorities of Jumeirah Group nowadays?

9:35 -Let me make a very bold statement here, Bob,

9:38 We are no longer living in a mobile-first stage.

9:42 We are living in a mobile-first, remote-first stage.

9:45 This is not particular only to the hospitality world.

9:53 Let' s break the entire discussion in two dimensions,

9:58 first is for our guest and second is for our employee.

10:01 If you talk about guest,

10:02 right now what's happening in the hospitality world,

10:05 especially that if a business guest is coming and staying

10:11 in our property, they want to have an office environment in their room.

10:16 They want to have access to all their applications.

10:19 They want to have access to all their emails.

10:23 They want to have access to the printer.

10:26 Everything they need to do in their office, they want

10:29 to have same set of services available in the hotel room.

10:34 Talk about the young guest.

10:36 Right now, when you talk about the young guests,

10:40 which are there in the hotel, generally they go to the kids' club.

10:42 Now what' s happening is there are remote school classes,

10:45 which are going on.

10:46 Our kid club should be gearing up to provide

10:50 those remote classes to them from the kids' club.

10:53 Let' s take the example of someone who is coming on a leisure trip.

10:56 When they are coming on a leisure trip,

10:57 they' re sitting in one corner and that' s on a sunbed.

11:01 Let' s talk about our Maldives property. If someone is actually going

11:06 on a boat transfer to the property, they want to have

11:13 access to their information in those remote location also.

11:18 This cannot be done without

11:24 a very superior Wi-Fi bandwidth and experience.

11:29 Now, let' s talk about the other dimension

11:32 where we are talking about the colleagues or the employees.

11:36 We all have seen what has happened during the COVID-19.

11:38 Within two weeks, we had to take a very bold decision

11:43 that all our colleagues will be working from home.

11:46 If they are working from home, you need to ensure

11:49 that you provide them all the right infrastructures

11:52 so that they can get the operationally critical application in real-time.

11:59 They can operate that in real-time.

12:01 All these things are dependent on the Wi-Fi.

12:05 That' s why I believe that Wi-Fi is like oxygen.

12:08 We are living in remote-first and mobile-first stage.

12:10 It is of paramount importance to us.

12:14 Let me tell you, Bob, if you are a guest, you come to our property.

12:19 If you experience that Wi-Fi is there,

12:24 you will not be delighted.

12:25 This is something that you expect.

12:28 If you come to our property and you experience Wi-Fi,

12:33 which you have never seen anywhere else,

12:35 only that will delight you.

12:36 That is why it is very important for us.

12:39 -It' s interesting you say that Sanjay.

12:41 I don' t think the next generation, my kids;

12:44 I don' t think they know what an Internet cable looks like.

12:45 [laughter]

12:47 Maybe they go to museum to see it now.

12:50 When you look at Mist Juniper, when I started

12:54 Mist, there was really two mantras in Mist.

12:56 One was this paradigm shift,

12:58 really round the client to cloud end-user experience.

13:02 It' s not about managing network elements.

13:03 It' s really about managing that end-user experience.

13:06 The other one was really around converging

13:09 connectivity and location to prove location.

13:11 Maybe for the audience, you can explain to me on how these two paradigms

13:16 are really impacting you and what you' re doing in the Jumeirah Group,

13:19 and what it means to your business?

13:23 -That' s a really good question. I believe technology is just an enabler.

13:26 It needs to see that how we can transform either

13:29 our product or services or processes, our policies.

13:33 This is what I believe technology like Wi-Fi do, Bob.

13:39 Right now, what we are doing is that we are ensuring that we are

13:44 working in two parallel streams as far as our IT services are concerned.

13:49 The first one what we call is continuous innovation.

13:54 In that stream, we actually ensure that the Wi-Fis are working fine.

13:58 It proactively predicts if there is any issue and address it.

14:03 We have AI-based algorithms to address if there is any issue in Wi-Fi.

14:10 If there is any dead spot, which is there,

14:13 or if there is any of the controller,

14:14 which is not working, it should proactively inform us.

14:17 This is what we do in one dimension of our program.

14:23 Then there is another dimension of a work program

14:26 where we call that transformative initiative.

14:27 Where we actually see how we can use this technology and create

14:33 an experience, which probably our guest has not experienced anywhere else.

14:37 This is where we take the location-based services.

14:40 We get insight on our guest behavior.

14:44 We actually see that if there is one particular restaurant,

14:47 what is the access or the best way of finding the path,

14:52 which we should be targeting for our guest.

14:55 These are the kinds of things, which we do in the other dimension.

15:00 -Maybe our final question, Sanjay.

15:02 We all know hospitality has been probably one of the most

15:05 impacted industries with the COVID experience.

15:08 Maybe for the audience, where do you see the future

15:12 of the hospitality industry headed post-COVID?

15:16 Where' s Jumeirah Group headed after the COVID experience?

15:21 -We believe that in future we will be

15:25 crafting what we call a phygital experience,

15:28 which is a combination of physical plus digital world.

15:35 I believe that whenever there's a guest who actually step into

15:39 our property, then we can have so many personalized services,

15:46 which can be offered to them, which is based

15:48 on location and which is based on context.

15:51 This I believe will be defining how the guest journey

15:55 will be transformative or will be defined in future.

16:01 You talk about the application like wayfinding.

16:06 Talk about the application like how we can better track

16:12 colleagues and friends in let' s say a water park or a theme park.

16:17 If we have to get access

16:21 to our concierge in the digital

16:26 fashion in real-time, how we can enable that.

16:29 All this kind of things, which will be actually defining

16:33 how the experience at our property will change in future.

16:39 -Well, Sanjay, I want to thank you

16:41 and thank our audience for joining us here today.

16:43 I truly look forward to getting back

16:44 to Dubai and seeing you again face-to-face.

16:47 Hopefully, this year after we all get our shots.

16:50 With that, I want to thank everyone and hope to see you soon.

16:54 -It was a pleasure, Bob.

16:55 I must share with you that if I had an option I would have shown

16:58 you my TV here, where I have a live dashboard which is powered by Mist,

17:02 where I get real-time access of the information

17:06 about how our guest are connected.

17:09 Thanks for this great partnership.

17:12 I' m really looking forward to work with you to create

17:15 something very unique in the hospitality world. Thank you.

17:19 [music]

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