AWS Travel and Hospitality Partner Conversations: TensorIoT
Ravikumar (Ravi) Raghunathan, CEO of TensorIoT, joins Florian Tinnus, Partner Leader for AWS Travel and Hospitality, for a broad-ranging discussion around how AWS Partners are helping customers build resilience and prepare for what’s next in travel and hospitality.
During this unprecedented time for the industry, we have been inspired by the innovations that have been born out of disruption and will impact and improve the way we fly, eat, stay, and experience our world for years to come. Now more than ever, AWS wants to help customers succeed by connecting them to AWS Partners with deep AWS technical expertise and proven customer success to help travel and hospitality organizations build a resilient business and accelerate innovation. That’s why we’re honored to have TensorIoT as a launch member of the brand-new AWS Travel and Hospitality Partner Competency.
Florian Tinnus: Describe your company, the types of travel and hospitality work you do, and key travel and hospitality clients.
Ravi Raghunathan: TensorIoT is an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner concentrating on using IoT and machine learning to help companies collect, organize, and identify insights into data. I used to be the director of data at Hilton Worldwide, so I drew on my hospitality experience to focus on Digital Continuity, Computer Vision, and Voice Solutions. We work with the world’s largest hotel chain, restaurant chains, and entertainment venues to allow our customers to rapidly respond to the changing guidelines during this pandemic and enable safe back-to-work setups.
FT: Many companies across travel and hospitality have been managing through a period of unprecedented disruption. What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced during this recent period and how have you helped clients manage through them?
RR: The pandemic has changed how we are operating as business along with the solutions customers need. As a company, the biggest challenge we have faced is transitioning to help clients remotely instead of traveling to their sites. This safe work approach requires a different way of thinking, embracing the tools to remotely manage projects, and having someone in the client team working with us. What we’re hearing from our customers is that their biggest challenge is meeting and exceeding the unclear and rapidly changing local, state, and federal guidelines for health and safety precautions.
Our team made the pivot to remote-directed solutions with very little friction, and our solution designs have proven very powerful for our customers since our products like SafetyVisor (computer vision safety monitoring) and SmartInsights (industrial IoT data analysis) are designed to be safely and securely updated remotely. For example, we were able to add adherence to updated mask guidelines within eight hours across a customer’s fleet in Texas.
FT: It’s been an incredibly difficult time for travel and hospitality companies, but we’ve seen many companies investing for the long run. With all the uncertainty, why has your company chosen to invest in travel and hospitality at this time?
RR: We see a huge opportunity to help the travel and hospitality industry bridge the pandemic by utilizing IoT and ML to handle remote operations since our background in computer vision, IoT, and voice-enabled systems has allowed us to rapidly scale solutions on top of AWS to meet customer demand.
Many of our clients are viewing the ongoing challenges as an opportunity to earn trust and provide higher-quality experiences to customers, so we’re working to help our customers be ahead of the curve when the inevitable rebound occurs.
Customer expectations are very different now, but this sector will bounce back once the vaccine and treatments are available. We firmly believe that developing solutions on AWS technologies provides an efficient and effective foundation for the future path to normalcy.
FT: In the face of the current disruption to travel and hospitality industry, we’ve observed incredible innovations coming from across the industry. How has your company innovated through these challenging times on behalf of your customers and what are you most proud of?
RR: We’re most proud of our work with SafetyVisor. The solution was originally developed for monitoring protective gear use on job sites, but thanks to the flexibility offered by AWS services, we were able to repurpose the product to detect face masks and social distancing, enabling us to provide our IIoT Computer Vision solution for small businesses and offer them to customers at no cost. Using SmartInsights allowed clients to reduce the number of in-person machine inspections required. We also helped our restaurant customers assure their customers about cleanliness and sanitation by developing digital audits that all customers could validate.
FT: The travel and hospitality industry is incredibly resilient. As you look toward recovery, what role does technology play for your company moving forward? How do you see technology enhancing the customer experience and improving operational efficiency?
RR: We have already seen a number of our customers re-tool their inventory to cater to the work-from-home market and the changes in what consumers expect from sanitation and cleaning. Customers who are ahead of the curve in earning trust with their customers will recover faster and reap the benefits once the market trends back to normalcy. The pandemic actually gives companies a window to update their facilities to incorporate IoT and ML technology without significant disruption to their operations, and using voice technology like chatbots helps keep customers informed without overloading the available staff.
FT: How does building on AWS allow you to prepare for whatever the “new normal” in travel and hospitality will look like? How does the new AWS Travel and Hospitality Partner Competency help companies do the same?
RR: The key reason that we were able to build our SafetyVisor solution in a matter of days with the ability to incorporate and adhere to rapid changes in health regulations is because it was built on AWS services. When the “new normal” arrives, the first travel and hospitality companies to bring customer experiences to market are going to find tremendous demand from people who have been unable to enjoy travel and vacations, so the speed of coming to market is going to be instrumental in success.
The new AWS Travel and Hospitality Partner Competency helps customers work with AWS Partners who have demonstrated capability in delivering effective and adaptable solutions to key industry problems. The new competency provides prescriptive guidance to customers looking to benefit from the speed of AWS innovation by giving them proven trusted Partners for their projects.
FT: What makes you excited for the future of travel and hospitality? As a traveler or guest, where are you looking forward to visiting next?
RR: We remain bullish about the prospects of travel and hospitality, since right now plenty of people are dreaming of the amazing vacation that they’ll take when the pandemic is finally brought under control. Personally, I look forward to traveling and soaking in environments that are best experienced in person. The top two destinations on my list are visiting the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Swiss Alps.
TensorIoT CEO Ravikumar (Ravi) Raghunathan is a technology leader with a track record of delivering innovative solutions in IoT and AI systems. Ravi has led global transformation projects for Fortune 100 companies and deployed numerous global scale IoT systems in the US, Europe, and the APAC. Prior to founding TensorIoT, Ravi helped startups accelerate product delivery cycles and worked at Amazon Web Services (AWS), where he specialized in helping large enterprise customers reach their IoT goals. At TensorIoT, Ravi has built an AWS-exclusive Advanced Consulting Partner with deep expertise in IoT, ML, and Data, delivering next-gen solutions for clients across multiple industries.
Learn more and team up with AWS Travel and Hospitality Competency Partners.
See more Partner Conversations and industry insights on the AWS Travel and Hospitality Blog.