In his role of chief information officer at Delta Air Lines, Robert DeRodes oversees a staff of 2,400, making sure the airlines computer systems function smoothly. He must also work with Senior Vice President for eBusiness Vincent Caminiti to implement Deltas electronic commerce initiatives. DeRodes spoke with Section B Editor Mel Duvall on how he works with Caminiti to achieve Deltas e-commerce goals.
What is the difference in your roles? Vince provides Delta Technologies with a great service. He helps us develop our Internet strategy; he brokers ideas and works to gain a consensus on our priorities. We pick it up from strategy development, turn the strategy into architecture and execute the projects. I like to say Vince does a great job of catching the bear, and we do a great job of skinning it.
How would you resolve a conflict? Clearly, the way we resolve it here at Delta is we get around a table and get the issues out so we can talk about them. Often it entails a series of compromises. Its not that we dont end up agreeing — we end up finding ways of agreeing to a compromise. I view part of my mission as not selecting, per se, the software or tools that are used [to implement e-commerce projects], but selecting the architecture or framework on which those tools or products have to sit.
I see my role as the enforcer of architecture and standards, more than a selector of packages.
What is the ideal relationship between a CIO and vice president of e-commerce? One where the roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. An unhealthy relationship would be one where there is role ambiguity and its not clear who has rights over what decisions. I would think also that you would have a congruence of goals — that you are both on the same page.