Amid merger mania in the casino industry, IT execs must update aging technologies with an eye toward integration challenges and opportunities.

Tony Kontzer, Contributor

September 10, 2004

2 Min Read

But the company's most compelling IT lab work centers on the operational CRM strategy. Stanley's staff is testing homegrown software that monitors players in real time and taps a business-rules engine to generate instant comps based on its own proprietary algorithms. It also has created a new category of marketing professional called "luck ambassadors" who, when prompted by the software, can instruct the slot-management system to deliver to players meal coupons, tickets to shows, or gambling vouchers via the printers built into 30,000 of the company's slot machines. The software relies on a host of technologies--ILog's front-end rules engine, Tibco's middleware integration platform, and Cognos' business-intelligence application--to deliver information on which the luck ambassadors and slot-management systems can act.

"It's the decision science--the way we run our business with the data--that's likely to be seen as our business advantage," Stanley says. Soon, the challenge will be to carry over that advantage to the nearly 50,000 slots it will inherit in the Caesars acquisition, many of which have capabilities similar to Harrah's slots but haven't been used as extensively.

But Harrah's vaunted customer-relationship-management program may be tested by the merger, says Rod Petrik, a market analyst with investment firm Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc. Petrik says Harrah's customer-facing systems are designed to serve a certain profile of gambler, one less flashy than the clientele at Caesars Palace. The addition of Caesars' more-upscale resorts complicates things by introducing properties that may be intimidating to many Harrah's devotees. Likewise, many Caesars guests used to an upscale experience might stay away from Harrah's comparatively pared-down experience, thus diluting the cross-pollination Harrah's systems have been designed to create and which has benefited Harrah's so much.

MGM Mirage's solution was to position its properties as successive steps up a status ladder, creating a variety of experiences to meet a variety of budgets. Bonner's challenge was to make sure his systems don't get in their own way. That might mean, for example, ensuring that Treasure Island stops marketing to a particular customer once the company has started transitioning him to the MGM Grand. It's a subtle but important difference that requires careful integration work and sophisticated business rules, Bonner says.

And perhaps a bit of luck, which is generally the case in Las Vegas. Big deals like these are always a crapshoot. But the technology involved can't be.

Continue to the sidebar: "Starting From Scratch: Wynn CIO Has A Clean Slate"

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