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By Daniel Newman, CEO, Broadsuite Media Group
This article is by Featured Blogger Daniel Newman from his LinkedIn page.
Here's a riddle for you: What is one role in the C-suite where obsolescence is indicative of success? The answer is the role of Chief Digital Officer (CDO). By definition, CDOs are responsible for creating holistic digital transformation strategies—strategies that stretch beyond departmental strategic plans and instead integrate digital into all areas of the business. When done exceptionally well, the CDO becomes unnecessary—but that, of course, isn't where most of us are at today.
In many companies there is no single owner of digital transformation. Rather, the task falls among CIOs, CMOs, and even financial and operations leaders to coordinate. Often, the lack of time and resources to devote to full digital initiatives can lead to tunnel vision, further siloing how businesses approach digital. There's a new C-suiter on the block, though, primed to fix this problem. Enter CDOs—redefining the C-suite by breaking down silos on the path toward achieving true digital transformation.
How Do CDOs Lead Digital Transformation?
CDOs are like the 'hybrid cloud' between CIOs and CEOs (and even some CMOs): Their roles are cross-functional, as they oversee the digital transition of systems, production, marketing, sales, operations, corporate culture and sometimes even products and services. They're customer-focused, too—developing both a wide-reaching digital experience for consumers and business partners while also maintaining the capabilities internally to drive growth.
The role of the CDO is only a few years old, but PWC's study found that a majority of global CDOs today come from a marketing or sales background, depending on the industry and needs of the hiring company.
While job descriptions vary, most CDOs drive digital transformation in the following ways:
- Overseeing digital process innovation
- Creating, implementing, and monitoring a comprehensive digital project portfolio
- Working with executives and coaching employees during delivery of key digital initiatives
- Measuring the success of initiatives at multiple points along the journey to digital, including making any necessary adjustments mid-project
- Growing revenue and cutting costs by replacing manual processes with more efficient technologies
- Making sure digital capabilities map to strategic priorities
To CDO Or Not To CDO?
Are you on the fence about whether or not your company needs a CDO? You're not alone. A 2015 PWC study reported that last year, only 6% of the world's top 1,500 companies had created the position of CDO or equivalent. (The study did note, however, that the number of CDOs is "growing rapidly," so we can expect this percentage to balloon in the near future.) The other 94% are likely managing digital transformation at key market levels instead, often leaving management to implement the initiatives and the CEO to oversee the process.
Companies that have embraced the role of CDO have the benefit of bringing someone on board who can see the forest for the trees when it comes to digital initiatives. Your company is likely to benefit from a CDO if you agree with the following statements:
- My company is done with digital experiments and is ready to integrate digital into every part of the business to optimize results.
- My marketplace is undergoing changes that shape value (or is vulnerable to these events).
- My company's current leadership is willing to support the role of CDO.
- My company needs a disruptive perspective from an objective expert on digital transformation.
There's certainly no universal blueprint for digital transformation success, but there are indicators of what's working: A recent McKinsey study, for example, found that 90% of top-performing companies with a high Digital Quotient (DQ) had fully integrated digital initiatives into top to bottom strategic planning. That wouldn't work if CDOs—or the various leaders tasked with implementation—didn't work closely with the rest of the C-suite, bring a bold vision, and operate with a big-picture attitude. CDO or no CDO, those traits must be present for digital transformation to move from buzzword to plan of attack.
The transition to digital is a time of much risk and vulnerability—and, today it's almost a given for enterprise success. Getting it right can be the difference between a company that soars and one that sinks. How many companies will wing it before they realize the need for transition specialists or departments in their organization? Will yours? How has your business approached digital transformation? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences.
Originally published on LinkedIn