MGM Resorts International

Big wins for daily performance management, forecasting and budgeting with Aviana and IBM

Published on 06-Jan-2014

"The speed of reporting with IBM Cognos TM1 amazed us – it transformed our idea of what technology could do to transform this process." - Kelly Litster, Vice President, Finance Shared Services Center, MGM Resorts International

MGM Resorts International

Media & Entertainment

Deployment country:
United States

Cognos TM1, BA - Business Analytics, BA - Performance Management, Big Data & Analytics, Big Data & Analytics: Transform processes, Big Data & Analytics: Operations/Fraud/Threats, Enabling Business Flexibility

IBM Business Partner:


MGM Resorts International is one of the largest and most successful players in the Las Vegas resort hotel industry. It operates 15 wholly owned resorts in Nevada, Michigan, and Mississippi, as well as the MGM Macau resort and casino in China. The company employs 62,000 people and generates annual revenues of around USD 9 billion.

Business need:
The complex interplay of gaming, hospitality, food, entertainment and retail is vital to MGM Resorts’ success – but how could the group gain insight into the performance of these businesses to drive competitive advantage?

MGM Resorts harnessed Aviana Hospitality and Gaming Intelligence and IBM® Cognos® TM1® to build a real-time daily operating report and develop more sophisticated budgeting and forecasting processes.

Reports are generated within minutes, saving hours for analysts.

The company can now analyze daily performance consistently and in real time, enabling accurate comparisons within and between resorts.

Case Study

Las Vegas is a city of high stakes – and not just for the gamers in its casinos. To succeed in a highly competitive marketplace, the resort hotels along its strip need to solve a highly complex challenge: how can they combine a set of disparate businesses, including hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues, retail outlets and casinos, into a mutually supportive ecosystem that delivers excellent customer service and drives profitability?

Setting the scene
MGM Resorts International is one of the largest and most successful players in the Las Vegas resort hotel industry. It operates 15 wholly owned resorts in Nevada, Michigan, and Mississippi, as well as the MGM Macau resort and casino in China. The company employs 62,000 people and generates annual revenues of around USD 9 billion.

Challenges of a sophisticated business model
Kelly Litster, Vice President of the Financial Shared Services Center at MGM Resorts International, explains how the company’s highly sophisticated business model creates challenges for financial management that many other industries simply don’t have to face:

“We don’t have a single core business – we have multiple divisions which all operate according to very different principles and on different daily cycles. Our restaurants and entertainment venues just don’t behave in the same way as our casinos or our hotels – each has its own specific performance drivers. Yet we need to be able to gain an accurate overview of how all these businesses interact in order to make the right decisions. And because our industry moves so quickly, we need this insight in real time, on a daily basis.”

As a further challenge, MGM Resorts allows cross-property charging at any of its hotels: in theory, a customer could book a room at the Mirage, have dinner at the Bellagio and catch a show at the MGM Grand – which they pay for at the Luxor. As a result, to gain a truly accurate overview of the performance of one of its properties, the company needs to analyze data from all of them.

Gaining control of transactional data
The finance team at MGM Resorts realized that the first step on its analytics journey was to gain centralized control of its data. Senior management commissioned a project to standardize and automate the process so they could receive comparable information across properties and business units in a faster, more consumable manner. Instead of each division and each resort using its own methodologies and producing its own figures, the company decided to create a central data environment that would map every transaction from each of the finance systems in each of its resorts to the general ledger.

“Instead of using spreadsheets and departmental databases to produce figures that were based on tribal knowledge and reconciled manually by extensive data manipulation between different parts of the business, we decided to find a more automated solution,” says Kelly Litster. “The Hospitality and Gaming Intelligence solution from Aviana, which is based on IBM Cognos TM1, was ideal for our needs.

“Aviana has extensive experience in the hospitality and gaming sectors – and that’s rare among IT vendors,” she adds. “They understand the operational complexities of our business, the needs of our finance team, and the technology needed to bring the two together. Combining their expertise with the powerful analytical engine of IBM Cognos TM1 is helping us transform the way our company uses data to support decision-making.”

Daily operating reports in real time
The cornerstone of financial management in the hospitality industry is the daily operating report, or DOR. This is a top-level report, generated on a daily basis, which brings together data from many sources and provides insight into the general ledger, hotel occupancy, entertainment, food and beverage and retail income, gaming revenues, complimentaries, and all the other key revenue and cost streams that contribute to a resort’s success.

“The DOR is an invaluable tool for running our business, but until we implemented IBM Cognos TM1, it was extremely time-consuming to pull it together, and we couldn’t be totally confident in the data,” says Kelly Litster. “Now the TM1 solution automates the whole process, so we can generate the DOR quickly based on accurate figures and standardized calculations – saving approximately five hours per property per day. The sheer speed of reporting with IBM Cognos TM1 amazed us – it transformed our idea of what technology could do.

“Cross-property calculations are now easy, because we know we are comparing apples with apples: we can see whether, for example, a steakhouse in one hotel is performing better or worse than similar restaurants at our other resorts. This helps us focus on the areas where we’re underperforming, and address opportunities quickly.”

Enhancing forecasting and budgeting
Building on the success of the new automated DOR, the company has designed new processes for forecasting and budgeting, based on the same centralized data repository and IBM Cognos TM1 analytics engine. Aviana will be working with the in-house team to build these new capabilities over the coming months.

“We foresee huge improvements in the consistency and detail level of our forecasts once the TM1 solution is up and running,” says Kelly Litster. “We’re also confident that the automation of key processes such as collecting, validating and reconciling data from the different business units will help to significantly shorten our planning cycles.”

She concludes: “Our journey has taken us from a situation where analysis and forecasting were based on tribal knowledge to a fully automated, accurate and consistent process where finance and senior management can be confident that the figures reflect the current state of the business.”

About Aviana
Since 1994, Aviana has built a solid reputation as a preferred custom solutions and consulting partner for clients in healthcare, entertainment, finance, insurance, state and local government, retail, hospitality and gaming, and manufacturing.

Over the years, Aviana has empowered its customers with increased control and flexibility through a variety of best-in-class performance management solutions and strategies. As a result, it is now one of the fastest growing IT consulting companies in Southern California.

To learn more about services and solutions from Aviana, please visit

About IBM Business Analytics
IBM Business Analytics software delivers data-driven insights that help organizations work smarter and outperform their peers. This comprehensive portfolio includes solutions for business intelligence, predictive analytics and decision management, performance management, and risk management.

Business Analytics solutions enable companies to identify and visualize trends and patterns in areas, such as customer analytics, that can have a profound effect on business performance. They can compare scenarios, anticipate potential threats and opportunities, better plan, budget and forecast resources, balance risks against expected returns and work to meet regulatory requirements. By making analytics widely available, organizations can align tactical and strategic decision-making to achieve business goals.

For more information
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Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Cognos TM1

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013. IBM Corporation, Software Group, Route 100, Somers, NY 10589. Produced in the United States. January 2014. IBM, the IBM logo,, Cognos and TM1 are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at Hospitality and Gaming Intelligence is a product of Aviana. IBM and Aviana are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor Aviana makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided.