Who is the Chief Digital Officer?

Innovate or Die

Taxis operated with minimal competition for over 100 years. For a century, if you wanted to get somewhere you called a cab, waited for as long as it took them to get there with no update, and probably made it to your destination on time. No competition meant minimal innovation in operating model, service delivery or product. Until 2009 when a small startup appeared on the scene which gave riders a real-time view of where their ride was, a ride within minutes, and an app payment system. Within the past year that app has been sued by taxi companies for over $1.5 billion in response to their major disruption of the industry. In today’s fast-changing economy technology is king- companies need to understand the changing digital landscape or risk being disrupted by the next Uber. To stay competitive in the digital age a new role has emerged within organizations; the Chief Digital Officer (CDO).

C-D- What?

The CDO has existed within companies under different roles and titles, often an IT manager who was charged with implementing digital processes in place of analog ones (think the shift from cutting checks to an online billing system). As the competitive landscape has changed so has the role- now often reporting directly to the CEO, CDO’s are being charged with designing and executing an all-encompassing digital strategy that benefits business growth, processes and, in consumer-facing industries, the customer experience. The role has become so essential that the number of companies hiring a CDO has more than quadrupled since 2012, and Gartner estimated that 90% of large companies will have the position by the end of next year, with consumer-facing industries like insurance and media leading the pack in hiring.

Early CDOs often came from a marketing or sales function, reporting to the CMO but today’s CDOs are more frequently being hired from a technology background. However, tech isn’t the only required skill set. Below are a few factors that companies and newly appointed CDOs can leverage to get the most out of this new position.

*Progressive and innovative: CDOs are tasked with spearheading growth through digital initiatives. For large corporations, this may mean presenting innovative ideas to push back from processes and teams that are averse to change but as the digital industry continues to explode companies must follow suit to remain competitive.

*Data driven: Digital means data, and data drives decisions. CDOs utilize big data, BI and corporate data to drive decisions and make predictions.

*Customer-centric: The CDO is looking to improve the customer experience through digital initiatives. This means understanding how the customer experience is shifting (are people beginning to expect their ‘taxi’ to be tracked and paid through an app?) and making sure that their corporation is at the front of the pack for employee experience.

*And yes, evangelist: this role is the driver of change which means impacting people, processes and technology. They must be laser-focused on implementing a game-changing digital strategy and getting others on board with the change. As more companies recognize the importance of a well-executed digital strategy this role will continue to be more commonplace and the responsibilities of the role will likely iterate to keep pace.

The Chief Digital Officer is set to be one of the fastest growing positions as more companies recognize the importance of an effective technology strategy and utilizing the data they have to grow business. Curious how your organization can leverage data to impact business decisions? Check out our resource page for stories of companies that have been successful in leveraging Humanyze data.


Last Updated 04 August 2021