What A Rental Car Company Can Teach IT Leaders

by drjim on May 20, 2010

Maybe We Should All Be Trying Harder…

Maybe We Should All Be Trying Harder…

As IT Leaders, we should all be trying harder to find ways to use the talents of our teams to make our companies run smoother. Hmm, I wonder if there are any companies out there that could serve as an example for us? Good news – there is one: >Avis rental cars.

How Hard Can It Be To Rent A Car?

It turns out that Avis Rent A Car is really both Avis and Budget – both companies are owned by the same company (who knew?) The first lesson that IT Leaders can learn from Avis is how they roll out new technologies: they don’t bet the farm on any one technology. Instead they do proof-of-concept trials and gauge customer feedback in order to decide if they should go ahead an rollout a solution company-wide.

Avis is not afraid to use wireless technology if it solves a problem. If you’ve returned a rental car to Avis lately, you’ve probably been greeted by an employee standing in the return line with a wireless device. I know that I haven’t had to go into the office to return a car in a long time – thank you wireless (great because I always seem to be running late for my plane).

As an example of IT Leaders thinking outside of the box, Avis has taken this remote check in one step further and now they will email you a copy of your receipt so that you don’t have to worry about stuffing a piece of paper into your luggage as you jump on the shuttle bus.

How To Innovate When You Work In A Parking Lot

One of the reasons that Avis’ IT Leaders are so innovative is because they can see their competition on the other side of the parking lot. That causes them to try harder.

The Avis data center is currently outsourced to IBM so Avis doesn’t have to spend any time worrying about typical data center activities. Instead they spend their time working on things like trying to make sure that a customer’s experience at the rental counter will be the same experience that they’ll have when they visit the company’s web sites.

The Internet plays a big part in every IT shop these days and Avis is no different. Avis uses XML to interface to other travel related businesses via the Internet. By doing this they are able to avoid booking fees and this saves everyone a lot of money.

Finally, Avis IT Leaders have also spent a lot of time and effort to create a direct connection between themselves and their insurance companies, car dealerships, and collision repair shops. This allows them to quickly react whenever one of their customers has a car crash.

What All Of This Means For You

Normally rental car companies and their cars don’t get even a second glance from IT Leaders as we race though the airport. However, maybe we’ve been overlooking a well run IT shop in our haste.

Avis is locked in a constant struggle with other rental car companies and so their IT Leaders have to be constantly innovating. They use whatever IT technology best suits the issue that they are tying to solve and this includes wireless and XML.

In the end, it’s the close working relationship that the Avis IT Leaders have been able to create between themselves and the business side of the house that has allowed them to achieve so much. Maybe that’s why they try harder…

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Knowledge

Question For You: What do you think that Avis should do next in order to make renting and returning their cars even quicker and easier?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

The world of IT is experiencing a form of “cloud fever” in which every company seems to be talking about how they are going to use cloud computing to become more successful. Well, talk is cheap and in the end it’s starting to look like nobody really has a clue as to how to go about actually doing this…

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