Do you have what it takes to be Chief Digital Officer?

Do you have what it takes to be Chief Digital Officer?

Smart use of social media and digital technology has become so vital for business success that leading organisations are now appointing Chief Digital Officers (CDOs) to their executive teams. These CDOs are charged with transforming the digital “cacophony” of disconnected, inconsistent, and sometimes incompatible activities into a “symphony” of new products and processes that engage today’s customers. The CDO role requires technical and strategic skills. It involves digital technology synergy, brand integration, investment coordination, skill development, vendor management, and innovation.

Where will the CDO come from?

The challenge is where to find just the right person for this exciting new CDO role. In a recent HBR blog George Westerman (co-author of “The real Business of IT”) tackles the question “Should Your CIO Be Chief Digital Officer?” The article is well worth reading (see link below: free registration required on HBR’s site).

His assessment has implications for every CIO

Westerman concludes that whether or not your CIO should become CDO depends on circumstances and capability. To help assess your situation he poses the following four questions:

  1. Is your CIO running IT well?
    If not, fix the problem first. So CIOs, get your service and project delivery running smoothly and your costs under control if you want to be considered for another role.
  2. Is your CIO ready to be a senior executive?
    Some CIOs are focused on the technology, while others focus on the wider business outcome with technology as just an enabler. CIOs wanting to become CDOs need to step up for business projects. They need to demonstrate that they have the commercial and strategic savvy required for a top executive post like CDO.
  3. Does your CIO have digital expertise?
    As noted in my recent article on CEOs who tweet, many IT leaders are in danger of becoming left behind because they are not knowledgeable and active in the digital world. Time to catch-up.
  4. Will your CIO command respect across the enterprise?
    Political and communication skills are essential for the CDO role. Any CIOs who haven’t actively managed their reputation are unlikely to be offered the opportunity to become CDO.

These questions highlight measures that are important regardless of aspirations. Any CIO wanting to step up into an executive role should put addressing these items on the top of their agenda. 

We are excited to see the emergence of the CDO role. The tidal wave of digital media opportunity is one of the reasons we branded ourselves FurleyDigital, rather than stick with words traditionally linked to IT or management consulting. We believe the future of technology is in digital and that IT is not going away, just morphing into an exciting new form. Not all CIOs can make the transition but if you are up for it then we are keen to help.

Should Your CIO Be Chief Digital Officer? - George Westerman - Harvard Business Review
Business bloggers at Harvard Business Review discuss a variety of business topics including managing people, innovation, leadership, and more.
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