Winning by Design

the AS/400, and Kneisel was still in mainframe mode. With the help of
his chief financial officer, who recognized the financial benefits, Kneisel
pushed through the capital request needed to convert to the AS/400. Although
that happened in 1997, Kneisel says the conversion took 2 1/2 years, and
the early part of 2000 was spent cleaning and tweaking the system. The
results, however, have been dramatic. “Where in 1998 we had 200 terminals,
we now have 600 PCs in a network-centric environment” he says. “That allows
us to compete by quickly taking advantage of faster, newer technology
in an environment supported by vendors.”

that Kneisel has his network, his biggest challenge for next year is customer
relationship management. The Tropicana Casino has half a million repeat
customers, so Kneisel knows he is sitting on a gold mine, yet his clients
are very diverse. “At this point, our customers range from somebody’s
grandma coming in on the bus to the guy flying in on a private jet who
loses more in one night than I make in a year,” he says. Kneisel would
like customization to be automatic and integrated across channels, including
the Web and call center. Customers should be able to book and confirm
reservations, view frequent flyer miles amassed from playing the slot
machines, and receive custom offers via the Web. Those calling in should
be greeted by first name, and if they are high rollers, routed to appropriately
trained operators. The main obstacles he faces are justifying the budget
to senior management and ensuring the appropriate level of security. “I
need to have a watertight solution to protect customers and adhere to
state regulations,” he says.

As he works out technical and architecture specs with Web developers,
Kneisel takes frequent breaks along the boardwalk, dreaming of other advances
such as remote check-in via PDA.

Winning Across Multiple

Jay Hemmady
Vice President of Technology, Bidwell & Co., Portland, Ore.
Major accomplishment: Tripled customer base through redesigned
user-friendly Web site
Goal for 2001: Create multiple communication channels, including
speech recognition and wireless Web

“I’m not as excited by technology as I am about getting something to
work and watching it come alive,” says Jay Hemmady, whose ability to do
just that has made him the man to call for companies in need of results
in record time.

In July 1999, Hemmady was hired as CIO by Renaissance Holdings Inc.,
a credit card services company that was later acquired by Household International
in Chicago. “I knew the contract was short term, but I figured the job
would last at least a couple of years,” says Hemmady, who understood from
the get-go that he was helping the company build equity for an eventual
merger or sale. Yet even Hemmady was surprised when he successfully performed
himself out of a job in less than a year.

When he joined Renaissance, there were 700,000 cardholders and about
600 employees, says Hemmady. When he left last May, the number of cardholders
had more than tripled to 2.2 million, and the number of