CIO Jojo Bisuna and Raffy Zacarias: How IT and Hospitality Merges


Mitzi Ilagan |

Keeping up with the fast pace of technology nowadays could be a daunting and challenging task, what more if it would be implemented in customer-centric hotels such as the ones in the Philippines?

A Chief Information Officer (CIO) then step up, with him being the source of information, source of ideas, and source of innovations in the industry that he is representing. Aside from attending to the needs of his customers, he, too needs to secure their IT system as they do so. In the local setting, the Hoteliers Information Technology Association of the Philippines (HITAP), an organization of CIOs from the hospitality industry aims to be globally competitive when it comes to technology, as they govern their respective hotel IT managements.

HITAP’s former president Jojo Bisuna, from The Discovery Leisure Company, Inc., have noticed how the IT industry in the Philippines shifted from making use of a network to being cloud-based. Given that massive change, it has pros and cons that CIOs have to watch out for, in order to avoid glitches. But that couldn’t be prevented, because there will never be a perfect system, even with international names.

We’ll have glitches along the way but if you’re ready with a prepared IT, there’s always an alternative. If you’ll get a report, for example, because a system has a limitation, we have to report it to our vendor for a permanent action. But alternatively, as a good CIO, you have to find ways how to make that happen, aside from telling your vendor to make that happen. That’s how you should face it. – Jojo Bisuana

There could be a lot of programs and apps to choose from, but of course, an effective CIO officer knows how to evaluate which ones are to be implemented for their respective hotels. Jojo says that it should be user-friendly with an easy-to-understand interface. On the admin side, he chooses a stable system which can be interfaced to any of their existing systems, to avoid possible conflicts.

On the other hand, the newly inducted President, Raffy Zacarias of Chroma Hospitality, plans on making their assets grow more and improve as they head on for this year’s challenges and new innovations. He knows what to do–identify his customers’ needs, and then introduce products especially made for them. Raffy has identified the different generations present today, and plans on integrating their needs on the different products they they would offer.

“Everything is instant. With the apps, you could book (a hotel room) online, they can use it as a key. For ordering, unlike the baby boomer (generation), they use the phone, dial the number manually. –  Raffy Zacarias

He mentions that while HITAP continues on supporting the hospitality industry in the Philippines, the organization would also maintain their partnership with their vendors as from where they get products to be able to pull of an efficient system for their hotels. Both presidents aim for something bigger for the local industry in the near future. While Jojo sees the future in the cloud, Raffy envisions a progressive environment with the situations upside-down–the foreigners coming in the Philippines for jobs, and not the other way around.

When asked about the top qualities of being an effective CIO officer, here’s their take on it:

Jojo Bisuna:

Number one, you have to be ready to accept change.

Number two, you have to be ready to face challenges.

Number three, you should always be concerned on the management or the company in terms of budget. There’s always a budget in any project. Being an effective CIO, you know how to make things happen by just giving you a certain budget and you will be able to deliver, you’ll deliver the expectations. Technology’s not cheap but if you use your ability being a CIO, you can make it happen.

Raffy Zacarias

One, he’s one step ahead. Why? You have to educate your people. If their mind is like your mind, then, why should I hire you? We’ll hire you because you have a different thinking. You are one step ahead from them in terms of technology.

Second, you have integrity. You have to do what you say. You are transparent.

Third, you should be financially sound, you should have focus on your budget. Make it happen with that specific budget.

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