Anand Dubey says good information leads to good IT investment and management.
Appointed in October 2007, Dubey came to Alaska government after heading technology initiatives for the Alaska Railroad Corp. and BP. Thanks to its energy production, Alaska avoids budget pressures facing many states. Nevertheless, Dubey focuses on efficient use of IT resources.
GT: Describe your priorities since becoming Alaska's technology director.
My mission is to bring productivity into my team and bring some basic work-management tools. We have these huge projects that we do, and we don't necessarily have the best project management philosophy. So I've started a project management office for the state. Once the basic processes are set up - so I can measure my folks and myself - we can say, "Let's figure out where we go from here." Otherwise, it turns into the blind leading the blind. You think you know where you're going, but are you truly going there?
GT: Why is developing and capturing performance metrics a priority for you?
When my boss wants something done, my job is to figure out how best to do it with the least amount of money. Data is a big factor to prove to people that I truly did succeed and I'm not hiding numbers. If you look at the amount of investment that is needed to bring up the basic infrastructure so that we can compete with other economies, there's not enough money to go around. So from that perspective, you have to work smart.
GT: How do you protect IT budgets?
Technology shouldn't be competing against other items in the budget. It's a utility, just like the roads and bridges. These days, you can't even have the roads and bridges unless you have a good IT infrastructure because you won't be able to manage your investment in those roads and bridges. The idea is to integrate IT into a core business process. Once you've done that, you're not competing for money.
GT: So it's incumbent on the technology leadership to make sure IT is aligned with business functions?
Exactly, and to help the decision-makers see that value. Give them the data, be their finance officer and their CIO. Traditional finance officers - no offense to finance officers - but they think in the terms of traditional accounting styles. The world has changed. So the CIO role is truly more of leadership, fiscal sanity and being able to say, "Here's the IT investment. How are you going to plug it into your ongoing initiatives?"