"In this world of asymmetric business where newcomers can enter and be active, gaining market share and using the latest technology at low cost, we have to move a lot faster and be able to introduce or change business models in weeks to react to this. This simply was impossible in the old way of working where the train would have left the station, arrived at its destination, and then done a few other trips before it was possible to change the direction of IT."
Hutt's vision revealed a move towards a minimalist and digitally-focused future for Fitness First IT.
"One question we are now asking is can we run a facility with just a few tablets and everything else being entirely cloud-, plug-and-play, and SaaS-based? This would mean we could start new operations much faster in new locations - like the pop-up store in retail. It would also make it much easier to bring out fitness services to corporate entities, groups and outside of the traditional physical gym premise.
"So low cost base, high return. Speed from concept to market, use of consumer technology where possible, use of standard components as a rule. That's where our digital IT research time and work is going."
Smartphones and wearable tech
Hutt said that one of Fitness First's areas of research was how in the future a customer's own smartphone or wearable device can be used a gym membership card. "It can provide an alternative access method to the traditional swipe card and be paired with wearable technology," the CIO said. "Entering a site could also trigger an iBeacon via the devices and act as a key card, and then push offers appropriate to the training regime.
Furthermore, wearables are becoming ever more popular in gyms and this is something to exploit, according to Hutt.
"In our research at the moment we are looking at clothing for monitoring the heart rate, oxygen uptake and other mass market devices that can detect and record fitness data," he said. "These download data to your device which then downloads to a database, so you are better able to work out your performance and training strategy.
"The big challenge is which wearable technology do you choose to support or do you try and support all of the key ones because the customer could choose anything."
Source: CIO uk
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