Kathy Lane, CIO National Grid: Page 3By BTM Institute Staff Writer | Posted 2008-07-02 Email Print
Re-Thinking HR: What Every CIO Needs to Know About Tomorrow's Workforce
An interview with Kathy Lane CIO of National Grid
Q. What processes have you put in place to speed up the integration of acquisitions, such as KeySpan?
Because of KeySpan, we developed an acquisition charter to put together an IT playbook on how we do divestitures, which we've done in the U.K., and/or how we do acquisitions. The company has taken on the job of really transforming our business processes globally. This journey will take the next several years. As we make progress on that journey, we'll find it easier to handle the acquisition integration process. We'll be able to say, 'Here is our master data, this is how we do most of our work and here are the tools we use.'
Q. What technology platforms are you considering for moving forward?
We're talking about a fundamental transformation. As an IT professional, I'm excited over this process because we have the support of senior management to do this right. We can start from the ground up and define what foundation transactional processing capabilities we want to have, and where the real competitive differentiators are for us. We might want to do proprietary solutions. Everyone has a different definition of service-oriented architecture. The applications we'll use will have an inherent SOA. However, we first need to sort through the complexity and not use technology to deal with it.
Q. What type of a methodology do you have for looking at business technology investment?
That function is still a work in progress. I'm a believer that you measure and remeasure what you do. Our dashboard covers everything from project metrics to operating expenses. We can drill down to get more detail where things look fine and where they have problems. We publish that data within the IT function; people then have access to the data. My leadership team says it's a pretty effective tool to use.
Q. How do you get involved with the major IT investments so they align strategically with the direction of the company?
We have a happy alignment of the stars here. We know that we need a portfolio-management capability or a mechanism to manage projects. We know we need a resource-management capability because we'll have inevitable contention. We've had some time to build that capability.
You work with the senior business partners and the stakeholders and get alignment around how are we going to allocate the resources that we have and what is going to be our criteria for that. That has been under way. At the same time, the company has become more mature about how it looks at that as an enterprise. We married those kinds of things together. It has been a very powerful mechanism for us. It is brought into by the company, and it is something where we say: These are the high priorities and these are the things we need to go after, and here are the resource constraints...and away we go.
Q. What process improvements do you plan to make, and how do you plan to go about making them?
We're trying to leverage our company's scale and to apply what other companies in other industries have done. We need to get a handle on what is our project portfolio, what is our transition volume, what is our network traffic, what types of data storage do we need, and what is the most efficient and effective way of providing that infrastructure.
Because of the KeySpan acquisition and this new global strategy, we have many opportunities to take a fresh look at how we should design our infrastructure and what is the most efficient and effective way to provide that to our company and to the customers. We're doing that right now. We'll look at contemporary best practices for mirroring those data centers in that infrastructure. Many of the applications we provide are critical for supporting our external customers and the basic services we provide to them. We need to do a good job of engineering these applications.
Of course, we have some baggage to deal with. We're taking a very analytical business-case-based approach and working with our customers, our legal department and our regulators to make sure IT hasn't gone off the cliff.
Q. How are you improving your organization's agility?
Most organizations find agility to be challenging. We recognize the advantage of being agile. My team and I spend a lot of time talking to our people about it. The company is the most dynamic it has ever been. Our strategy is to continue to grow and to develop.
Q. What's your philosophy about driving innovation?
If you can't get the basic job done well, you can't really innovate anything. You're just kidding yourself if you think otherwise. Being innovative in my book includes really delivering reliable and available business applications, which meet the business requirements and which people can use in a secure and ubiquitous way. You build upon this foundation by finding out what people want. You walk in their shoes as you see how they work.
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