By mid-2005, for example, travel conglomerate Carlson Companies Inc. plans to have a well-defined framework for how services are delivered, what common hardware platforms to rely on, and the kind of support it needs to manage apps and services. CIO Steve Brown expects the architecture to save Carlson as much as $20 million a year.
Why did Carlson choose this architecture? Look at the minestrone makeup of the company. It owns more than a dozen brands ranging from Radisson Hotels & Resorts to Carlson Wagonlit Travel. A decentralized company, it has seen more than 1,600 apps proliferate across its brands.
Over the past year, Brown's staff created a service-oriented architecture to inventory apps and identify the most valuable features and services in each app. As a result, Carlson is eliminating at least two of its four specialized booking engines; one or two can more efficiently handle the entire company's booking activities, Brown says.
Carlson's CW Government Travel unit will benefit immediately from the service-oriented architecture. It's building a travel-procurement portal for the U.S. Army that's expected to become the de facto channel for the entire federal government. Reusable bits in the architecture would enable the Army to add services--say, booking engines for lodging and events--to the portal on the fly.
Reusability is a big draw for Cendant Travel Distribution Services, too. A unit of Cendant Corp., Cendant TDS consists of 14 business units, including Galileo International Inc., which provides electronic global-distribution services to travel agencies and sites such as Lodging.com and CheapTickets.com. Cendant TDS has prepared to make maximum use of reusable components by standardizing things like app servers and hardware. A recent example is Lodging.com's destination-finder tool, which people use to find accommodations by geography.
Cendant TDS also redistributes content using the service-oriented architecture through E-Agent, which lets travel agencies sell the services of local businesses--for instance, a Mexican horseback-tour company. "We want to become a component factory," says Cendant TDS chief technology officer Robert Wiseman.
But Carlson CIO Brown cautions, "It's one thing to say you're going down the [service-oriented architecture] route. But unless you have a strategy for how you're going to address the issue of redundant applications and the technology supporting those, then you haven't taken the steps you need to take." Wiseman agrees that the strategy must be very broad. "Anything that we pay for twice is a big disservice, to our company and to our customers."
|Company||Revenue in millions||Income (loss)
|Carlson Companies Inc.|
|Marriott International Inc.|
|Flying J Inc.|
|Darden Restaurants Inc.|
|Hilton Hotels Corp.|
|Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.|
|Starwood Hotels & Resorts Inc.|
|Galileo International Inc.|
|Wyndham International Inc.|
|Financial data is from
public sources and company supplied.
Revenue is for latest fiscal year.
Dashes indicate companies requesting financial information not be disclosed.