EMERGENCE OF CHIEF DIGITAL OFFICER, A HUGE LEAP?

WHO IS A CHIEF DIGITAL OFFICER?

A chief digital officer (CDO) also known as a chief digital information officer (CDIO) is an individual who helps a company or a government organization by converting traditional analog businesses to digital ones, using the potential of modern online technologies and data and at times oversees operations in the rapidly changing digital sectors like mobile applicationssocial media and related applications, virtual goods, as well as “wild” web-based information management and marketing. It is one of the top 3 important roles in a firm. A CDO is responsible for creating an organization that is efficient digitally and makes sure that the mindset, values, and behavior of an organization align with the technological progress.

WHAT IS A DIGITAL AGILE ORGANIZATION?

A digital organization is a term applied to organizations that respond quickly to changes in the market place. These are data-centric Organizations, and research shows that Agile organizations have a 70% chance of being in the top quartile of the best indicator of long-term performance. Being data-centric is equivalent to placing data at the heart of your business. They extract value from data and analytics and incorporate data-driven insights into day to day processes. These data and analytics enable faster and more evidence-based decision making.  

Customers generally don’t know what they want until and unless they interact with the product. So, doing a market survey and laying your product in the hands of the customers as early as possible, and delivering more little by little keeps them connected to their potential customers.  They do take feedbacks positively and work on their deficiencies to provide the best services.  They may have direct access or collaborate to reach their potential clients to make their presence felt.  Customers have more options than ever. The Agile technique helps you to build what customers want and help them figure out what they need in the long run. It’s a perfect partnership.

Some companies are evolving and adapting to changing times. Companies are experimenting as much as possible with the frontier tech to reduce their workload. Research at the McKinsey Global Institute suggests that, across industries, there is already the potential to automate more than 30 percent of the tasks that make up 60 percent of today’s jobs. Business processes are undergoing the most knowledgeable change as they have replaced paper-work with electronic records. Machine learning tools, growth of the AI industry, Robotic Process Automation promise 100% efficiency and eliminate the risk of errors. Workers spend half of their time collecting and recording these documents. Experimenting with the frontier tech has helped them immensely in the process of automation of records.

For any business transformation to win, the organizational change management must be an essential part of the process. Going digital is a part of the method, but not the end goal. How do workers adapt and master is the key to the ultimate success of any business transformation initiative. Employees need to be a part of this conversation and are expected to know their job roles, how are they supposed to work, working guidelines, opportunities offered to them, and company structure to step into the new routine which the digital world demands.  The digital ecosystem should be flexible and work-centric so that it is not difficult for people to adjust. It must be quick in responding to the changes in the environment and the market place.

Digitally Agile Organizations are evolving quickly and becoming result oriented. They are focusing on digitizing the customer’s experience and are also looking after the entire business.  CDO’s are creative thinkers and solve problems quickly. They study the atmosphere of the organization and use their creative side to determine how best to improve the customer experience and get better business results. CDO’s highly experienced people. These Digitally Agile Organizations work best when under pressure. Better results lead the enterprise to capture a larger share in the market.  Working structure, guidelines, and rules and regulations improve the CDO’s and employee performance.

WHO REPORT TO THE CDO’s?

Head of the Users Experience department, Head of Analytics, Head of Product, Head of Digital Media, and Head of Technology, all report to the Chief Digital Officer. Having an insight into all these departments helps the CDO to prepare things well, analyze problems, and provide solutions to these problems. He knows about the needs and preferences of the customers, their reaction to their products, social media promotion, upcoming tech and advances, and product details. He can modify things according to market demands and choices. A market survey is very much necessary to keep things on track and get better results. CDO’s keep the work of an organization on track and increases the efficiency of its employees.

ARE CDO’S IN DEMAND? WHO HIRES THEM?

A CDO is responsible for the strategy, maintenance, policy, and stewardship of all organization data to create value. CDOs determine opportunities with data analytics, maximize data value, increase operational efficiency. 19% of the world’s largest 2500 companies and 37% of Indian Organizations require them. Tech companies need CDO’s at every step of their way and have the enormous responsibility of keeping up with the legacy of IT systems. Consumer-Oriented Organizations need CDOs to understand the pattern of consumer behavior and make tech user-friendly. They need CDOs to understand the external environment and act accordingly. They take feedback from the Stakeholders and use tools to find opportunities to serve customers better and gather insights both formally and informally. Organizations who want to process optimization through emerging tech, hire CDO’s because they are the only source of knowledge available. Organizations aiming for proactive, reactive measures, need CDOs to build their structure and carry out the work process.

HOW ARE CDOs DIFFERENT?

  • THEY ARE PROGRESSIVE THINKERS: CDO reports to the CEO of the company and leads a small-sized CoE to fulfill public demands in a particular area of interest. Being the senior in a few departments like UX, Analytics, Product, Digital Media, and technology, his behavior influences actions. Being skilled and qualified in his field, he becomes the senior advisor, advises people, and influences people’s actions. Being a progressive thinker, he is spontaneous and comes up with out of the box ideas to certain problems and brings a change to working patterns. He is an innovative storyteller with statistical data. For him, key performance indicators are the number of ideas his team produces, the prototype they use, the speed of innovation, and penetration in the market. It concentrates on how to maximize his profits through technology-focused initiatives. It requires a team with executives, marketing, and IT members.
  • THEY ARE CREATIVE DISRUPTERS: The CDO reports to the CEO in every organization. He leads a small group of UX experts, tech experts, and digital trend analysis. He gets an insight into customer needs as well as the tech, which helps him evaluate things better and work for increasing profits. He leads a group of innovative and skilled people for product/service development. Changes in products are required from time to time to keep the customers satisfied and also helps to retain them. It should promote people taking direct responsibility for turning an idea into a profitable finished product through assertive risk-taking and innovation. It is supposed to create business models for product, service, and business models for smooth functioning and also to show investors, if necessary, which in turn would help in planning, organizing, assigning, and evaluating work. The main KPI here would be the revenue generated from the product/services rendered in the market.
  • THEY ARE CUSTOMER ADVOCATES: He reports to the CMO and leads a mini team of UX, digital marketing, and creative experts. They are expected to take reviews from the market, create better content, and carry out its marketing activities. It is important to know customer feedback, which would help them to calculate their profit and losses. They are expected to communicate with the customers, and through social interaction, communicate powerful messages about their company. He advocatesfor the client’s wants and needs, whatever they may be. The rolealso involves thinking of and testing ways to improve clientexperiences and provide clients with more value. They are experts in UX, interface design, social media, and external collaboration, digital marketing, and knowing CRM is a part of their job. They measure their success through customer satisfaction and customer co-creation initiatives. 
  • THEY ARE INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGISTS: They report to the CTO and leads a large team of IT managers, digital tech, IoT experts, and enterprise architects. They must be updated with technological advances and optimize work accordingly. He is a senior advisor to CTO. He helps him to create technology which is user-friendly and would capture the market. It should be able to grow business externally and should also look after the technical issues within an organization. Strategy Implementation, i.e., the execution of plans and strategiesto accomplish the long-term goals of the organization, is a part of his job profile. It converts the opted strategy into the moves and actions of the organization to achieve its objectives. He is an expert in SMAC technologies. His KPI’s include savings from process movement and projects deployed and acts as an IT and technological partner. 

The author of this article is Swati Sinha (ex-Egon Zehnder/KPMG), a seasoned strategy consultant turned serial entrepreneur. Swati has a proven track record of building businesses from scratch, heading operations in multi city/country environment and working with CXOs as a thought partner.

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