Back in 2012, when every budget was becoming an IT budget, Gartner predicted that 25% of companies would have Chief Digital Officers by 2015. It’s now 2015, and according to a recent Forrester Survey, the reality is that less than a fifth of firms currently employ or even plan to hire a CDO.
Deloitte’s 2015 Tech Trends Report claims that 37% of firms place responsibility for Digital Operations and Strategy at the ‘C’ level, with an additional 44% looking to an SVP, EVP, or someone in a similar role to direct digital plans. This is a mistake, plain and simple. Now is the time for companies to rearrange their executive level positions to make room for a qualified and imaginative CDO — before it’s too late.
The Year of the CDO?
Leaders in business and IT acknowledge the growing importance of a CDO and his or her responsibilities within a business. At the start of 2014, parroting boardroom conversations, Wired asked, “Is 2014 the Year of the Chief Digital Officer?”
In November of 2014, TechCrunch came out with the similar assertion that “Every Company Needs a CDO.” Author Neha Sampat of raw engineering explained how a CDO “can think holistically about how a company’s strategy is executed across all digital channels – such as mobile, the Internet of Things (IoT) and an increasingly important SaaS-based web – and can provide insight and recommendations on how to reconcile the digital experience for key target audiences.” The CDO plays the pivotal part of ensuring that all aspects of a business are represented digitally and integrated in a way that’s efficient and effective. This is, without doubt, a huge responsibility.
Not Your Ordinary C-Level Job
Not just anyone can do this job, especially considering the fact this position didn’t even exist 20 years ago. Many companies make the mistake of putting executives with little digital experience in the position of a CDO, therefore placing a colossal amount of responsibility in the hands of someone who is inexperienced and unqualified for the role. Business knowledge doesn’t necessarily equal digital know-how, and this distinction is one that companies must grapple with when rearranging or reallocating corporate responsibility.
A CDO requires more than just extensive knowledge of the digital world — he or she needs to design and execute a vision that integrates each and every digital aspect of a company or organization. Not just anyone has the know-how to ask the right questions, and a good CDO will urge a company and a brand to continue to push for digital innovation while bridging the gap between marketing and technology.
Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks, although I’m betting you can’t. Either way, you need a capable and innovative CDO.