Why you need a chief digital officer.

Author:Bililies, Ted
Position:TECHNOLOGY AND THE BOARD

The CDO will become a vital partner to the CEO and the board in winning returns from the company's technology investment. This is an appointment you can't afford not to make.

Almost every part of business has been--or will be--transformed by technology. The stunning pace of digital innovation over the past 20 years or so has changed the way companies produce goods, gather and access information, and interact with their customers.

Social media, mobile, analytics, cloud, and the Internet of Things are transforming our daily lives. Morgan Stanley has estimated that by 2020 more than 75 billion devices will be connected to the Internet. Right now, the International Telecommunications Union projects that 46% of the worlds population is already online.

Artificial intelligence, robotics, and data analytics have already transformed sectors like retail, automotive, and pharma. Others, like health care and construction, are on the cusp of great change.

How can business leaders manage all of this? The overwhelmed chief executive officer may be trying to keep on top of the disruption to the business model, the chief information officer could be bogged down in keeping systems up to date, while the chief marketing officer is focused on maintaining connections that digital media has transformed.

A vital hire

To be successful, digitally transformed companies should invest in leadership to help them win returns from their technology investment. A chief digital officer (CDO) can be a vital hire to ensure that the mindset, values, and behavior of an organization keep pace with technological progress.

First and foremost, companies need to have the right digital strategy for their business, and that means interrogating the business model. Leaders will need to assess exactly how "digitally mature" the business already is and develop a road map for change. They will have to identify the right culture, one that empowers and facilitates this revolution. They will need to take an in-depth look at organizational design because a company's structure, processes, and management are all too often overlooked.

This is where a chief digital officer can be a key partner to the CEO. His or her broad role is to coordinate and integrate the digital strategy and ensure the whole business prioritizes digital.

Challenges the CDO faces

How does the CDO do this? We looked at the challenges the CDO faces in the context of AlixPartners' executive leadership attributes.

  1. Strategic...

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