Chief Digital Officer – Identity Crisis?

Annual Trends

The increasing number of Chief Digital Officer – CDO – appointments appears to be following the Gartner 2012 predictions that, by 2015, 25% of companies will have appointed a CDO. David Mathison, curator of CDO Club reports that he has seen an increase from 75 CDOs in major organisations worldwide in 2011 to over 300 by mid 2013.

Our experience shows that the Media and Entertainment sector is leading the way with Broadcasters, Advertising Agencies and Publishers aggressively hiring. Close behind Media and Entertainment is the Third Sector and Government.

The Role of the Chief Digital Officer

The role of the CDO in an organisation is not yet clearly defined – not all CDOs are created equal. This problem arises because there is a dichotomy. Should the CDO have a separate organisation and be accountable for new revenue generation (the P&L approach) or should the responsibility for revenue generation rest in the line organisations with the CDO providing strategic leadership (the organisational approach)?

This dichotomy coupled with a tendency for the organisation to be unclear on their goals around digitisation – invest in technology to grow revenue vs. replacing old technology in order to drive change and do things differently – can make the CDO role very different from organisation to organisation.

Why is this important?

Creating the Chief Digital Office role is a sign of importance.  The c-Suite is expanding, Chief Marking Officer, Chief Information Security Officer, Chief Technology Officer, etc., etc.. Adding a Chief Digital Officer is signifies a response to the importance of digital strategy to the firm.

A firm’s digital strategy presents complex and cross-organisational issues that demand a coordinated response. Clearly articulating the role, responsibilities and resources of a Chief Digital Officer will create the clarity, responsibility and accountability necessary to achieve the requisite results.

About Peter Borner

Peter is an entrepreneur and successful business leader. Currently leading a consultancy firm specialising in technical diligence for M&A and advising global firms on IT consolidation and migration to consumption based costing through the use of Cloud Technologies.

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