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The CIO Forum: IT Weathers the Storm

In the rough-and-tumble energy biz, IT departments are paddling hard to stay afloat.
Fortnightly Magazine - November 1 2002

standards and architecture delivery, but then to review major projects, to review major impacts, to make decisions, that sort of thing. It functions-to put it in the vernacular, it has really gelled in the last 18 months. I would say it is working the best I've seen it in the years I've been with our company [since 1995].

Why did you change your IT governance model 18 months ago?

As we matured as a new company [after the merger of Duke Power Co. with Pan Energy], what we realized is that there were many things we could do more from a common synergy standpoint, particularly in the IT operations arena-in IT security, in IT disaster recovery, IT telecommunications-all of those kinds of things. So really we looked at that and said, "OK, how can we operate going forward to accommodate the greatest types of synergies, come up with centers of excellence?"

Do your business goals drive IT?

Certainly. The reason-two comments on that. One, when we formed Duke Energy, we moved the business applications into the business units. Those applications have a dotted-line link, through the governance model, back to my office, as the corporate CIO. I do the enterprise applications, so whether that's financials, payrolls, HR, e-mail, or security, those kind of [things]. What is important to glean from that organizational alignment is it says that we are in step with the business units, in terms of what their actual business IT needs are. Therefore, we can deliver them. Operationally, we look at it and say, OK do we have the right infrastructure in place, the right networking connectivity, the right security certification guidelines, and all of those things. And in some cases, yes you do for some of those things like infrastructure, security, and firewalls. You've got to be continually reading not only your business units and where they are directionally going, [but also] where is the industry going, what new capabilities are there, and you're making investments in the operating infrastructure. At the end of the day, if you were to ask me what drives IT in this company, it is the business.

What are your goals for the coming year? Where do you see your spending, and what are your big projects?

At this moment in time one of the biggest goals I've got is keeping the staff motivated in a down economy, in a down industry segment. I don't think that's atypical, even in companies in different industry segments these days. But this industry segment has been through a lot. Every day you pick up the newspaper or you look on CNN, and you're not seeing rosy pictures, all you're seeing is bad news. Your staff-it isn't that they're running off, but they want reassurances that your [company is] going to be OK, that the industry and the economy is going to come back, etc. I expect that same thing to be felt in the telecommunications industry, look what they've been through, let alone our industry brethren, whether it's Dynegy, Williams, or others like that. It's the