Working in Sync

By Eileen Feretic  |  Posted 2009-06-01 Print this article Print

At Los Angeles World Airports, the IT organization is laying the groundwork to become the world’s most technologically advanced airport.


As a proprietary agency of the city of Los Angeles, LAWA is independent, “but we have a good working relationship with the city,” Nessi says. “Our mayor is very interested in what happens in the airport, and our CEO, Gina Marie Lindsey, strives to be a good partner with the city and the community. Also, the city’s CIO and I are always looking for ways to support each other.

“My success as a CIO is completely dependent on my peers in the non-IT areas of the airport. I’m very fortunate that Gina Marie Lindsey and LAWA’s COO, Steve Martin, are very supportive. They both ensure that our technology investments are well-thought-out and meet the future needs of our business.”

Does that mean Nessi believes that IT projects should have business value? Absolutely. “We in IT have to do a good job of proving the business case,” he says. “We can’t just say that we need a wireless network. We have to prove how important that network is to the airport, land-side and terminal operations. We have to connect all IT investments to the business operation of the airport.”

That push for business-IT integration is paying off. “In the long run, this process results in a better IT product because it’s aligned with the business,” Nessi says. “We have a tremendously talented executive team at LAWA, strong IT governance and very spirited discussions on technology. We actually have people begging to be on the governance committee so they can have input into IT decisions.”

Nessi has an IT strategic plan that has projects going about 10 years into the future. Some are tied to the construction or modernization of airport facilities, but all the projects have a large technological component, such as security or IT infrastructure.

The cost of these projects will add up to hundreds of millions of dollars, so proving business value is essential. “Right now, we have about 30 major active capital projects with a budget of about $200 million,” Nessi says. “And that doesn’t even include our operations budget, the budget for the Bradley West terminal or any other construction projects we’ll be doing down the road.

“I used to live in Denver, where they have a saying that the Platte River is a mile wide and an inch deep. I sometimes feel that’s how we are in the IT Services Division. We have a vast number of responsibilities here—everything from managing paging systems to providing audio-visual support for board meetings and for the many events held at the airport.

“Of course, we also handle all the traditional IT areas: our three data centers; the Internet and intranet; and support for the security, radio and phone systems. In fact, if it’s digital, it belongs to IT.”

Eileen Feretic is the Editor of Baseline Magazine.

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