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Caesars Entertainment bets on the Microsoft cloud, drives innovation in gaming, hospitality, and entertainment

Today’s post was written by Les Ottolenghi, executive vice president and chief information officer at Caesars Entertainment.

The gaming and entertainment industry is at a pivotal moment in its history, as traditional forms of entertainment face wholesale disruption in a hyper-connected world. I joined Caesars Entertainment in January 2016 to help navigate our way to becoming a purely digital business so that we can enhance the guest experience across our enterprise, which includes 55 destinations. Customers—habituated to mobile devices and omnichannel experiences—now expect their entertainment to be digital, real-time, and reliable. Caesars is using Microsoft cloud technologies, from the Office 365 suite of products to Azure and Dynamics 365, as a key part of its strategy to apply digital technology to the casino gaming industry.

Microsoft cloud technologies accelerate our business, from delivering new entertainment options to mobilizing and taking care of customers and our team members. Agility is a key benefit as we strive to stay ahead in a connected world that’s always evolving. With Office 365, we gained a modern workplace that improves efficiency in intelligent ways that map to our business strategies. For example, the dissemination of information and real-time connections among employees who are using Office 365 facilitates the teamwork that’s required to deliver exceptional customer experiences. Our IT team can also use Microsoft technologies to deploy these capabilities to the enterprise more seamlessly than ever. As part of our Microsoft cloud rollout, we deployed a text message bot that was built on the Microsoft Azure Bot Service framework to answer users’ questions about the rollout to aid in change management. Thanks to the pilot, the IT team not only gained experience in the design and development of the bots, but overall, the rollout was more successful across the enterprise.

Office 365 business productivity tools are exceptional, up to date, compliant, highly secure, and resilient so that IT can invest in exploring new technology opportunities. With built-in security services and other integrations, IT is free to focus on customer-facing initiatives—more than 60 percent of IT projects are now aimed at delivering value for customers and our team members, which is a huge increase from past years. And as we build digital technology into everything we do, we transform from a brick and mortar to a platform business that delivers what our customers want—before our competitors.

Recently, Caesars launched an interactive and immersive gaming and entertainment environment inside The LINQ Hotel + Experience on the Las Vegas Strip. At the RE:MATCH bar inside The LINQ screens around the bar offer interactive digital experiences, including games on the bar top and one-of-a-kind, immersive digital art installations. Across the casino floor at The Book, customers can fire up an Xbox and play casual games, and they can compete in e-sports events next door. All this translates into a unique experience for our guests that is available all day, every day. To facilitate coordination among the more than 200 people who worked on the project, we used Office 365 to connect the teams and share the information they needed to deliver the experience. It’s a great example of how we’re taking advantage of Microsoft technology to optimize our resources and focus on the customer engagement model.

We are also testing artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities in Azure to explore real-time, machine learning–based content creation and a deployment model to help us provide customers with what they need, when they need it, whether that be on a screen on a wall or in the palm of their hands. In the future, if a problem at a Los Angeles airport delays a guest’s arrival, we could proactively alleviate their anxiety by sending them an email to reassure them about their reservations or to confirm that we’ll hold their tickets for a big headliner show.

Caesars Entertainment is in the early stages of a global Windows 10 deployment. The continuous release cycles with Windows 10 will satisfy employees who have come to expect constant upgrades on their digital platforms. We’re also focused on making sure that we deliver the right technology into our team members’ hands. Surface Pro has been such a strong product that it has become the device of choice for our executives. And this is where employee satisfaction, which is so important to our culture, comes in. Our team members are more engaged and satisfied with work because they have modern, cloud-powered tools to create connections and improve their productivity. And in a networked world where individuals are vulnerable to cyberattacks and fake information, they know they can still get their work done safely. This is because we use Office 365 with services such as Azure Active Directory and other Microsoft security services, in concert with our security platform and controls, allowing us to geofence sign-in alerts, for example.

As Caesars progresses with its digital transformation, we’re poised to embrace new opportunities in the gaming and hospitality business. Ensuring that our team members are happy and productive with a modern workplace and Microsoft cloud technology is our best bet on getting there.

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