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Diversity key for innovation, says Carnival Corporation CEO

The CEO of travel brand Carnival told Splunk.conf 2018 that having diverse teams is the best way to drive innovation throughout a business

Diversity in teams is one of the main ways to drive an innovative culture in firms, according to the CEO of Carnival Corporation, Arnold Donald.

Speaking at Splunk.conf 2018 in Florida, Donald said diversity should be engineered into a business to make sure teams drive innovations that make the customer experience more seamless and personalised.

“At its core, innovation is diversity of thinking,” said Donald. 

It is well known that improving diversity in a business contributes to better business outcomes, because the technology produced is more likely to reflect the different customers it serves.

According to Donald, Carnival is the largest leisure travel company in the world, having up to 250,000 guests on its cruise ships per day, taking them to more than 700 ports across seven continents.

Out of the more than 27 million people who take cruises each year, half of them will be on ships run by Carnival, and the firm has been working on using data to deliver a more personalised experience for cruise goers.

Donald believes firms need to “own” diversity and work with people who think differently to the norm who will be willing to “challenge the status quo”, therefore improving business outcomes.

Donald, who is one of the few black CEOs in the US, said: “Forty years ago when I started in business, I rarely worked with anyone who looked like me.”  

While the amount of diversity in the technology industry is on the increase, many have highlighted the importance of ensuring people who are in positions of power play their part in increasing the amount of diversity in the industry.

“As Maya Angelou said, ‘When we know better, we do better’, and we all need to do better and we all need to play a part,” said Donald.

As well as mentioning the importance of creating “true inclusion” in teams, Donald said team members should have an equal voice and all be given equal opportunities.

The brand has been using various Splunk applications, predominantly to maintain and monitor systems as well as to keep track of customer interactions.

Carnival has been implementing more connectivity on its ships to cater to customers who want mobile access while travelling.

“Splunk helps us know our customers better and make their cruise experience more seamless,” Donald said, adding that many customers “want to connect back home” and “post in real time how much fun they’re having”.

Customer transactions aren’t the only data points that are being collected, as data is collected from around Carnival’s ships in the bridge, engine room and casinos, all of which goes towards making the brand proactive instead of reactive.

“We not only build cities and then sail them around the world, we’re also keeping them connected wirelessly to each other and to the outside world,” said Donald. “We generate a lot of data.”

Like many brands who are adapting to the modern customer, Carnival is working towards using more data to offer customers a more seamless and personalised experience.

“It’s all about the human spirit, we want our innovation to make every guest experience more impactful, more personalised,” said Donald. 

Donald added that he hopes customers stay connected once they have left their holiday behind, and that offering a better customer experience will encourage them to come back.

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