Chief Digital Officer: Just another hot new title?

Companies are going to respond by creating the title of Chief Digital Officer, analysts for the firm predicted at the Gartner Symposium last week. Just as the nexus of forces is digitalizing individuals’ lives, it is digitalizing the enterprise, according to Gartner. 

At the symposium, Gartner VP David Willis gave the examples of companies digitalizing budgets including R&D and marketing spending. The ongoing digitalization of the enterprise will require significant changes in the way businesses operate, according to Wallace. He expects the pressure to change to lead to the creation of a brand new position in the executive management team, the Chief Digital Officer (CDO).

“The CDO plays in the place where the enterprise meets the customer, where the revenue is generated and the mission accomplished. They’re in charge of the digital business strategy. That’s a long way from running back office IT, and it’s full of opportunity.”

Willis said CEOs no longer want CIOs to spend their time automating the back office. “The value CEOs seek is in digitalizing the interface between your enterprise and its customer or citizen, creating whole new business opportunities in the process,” he said.

To help meet these challenges, companies are increasingly looking for a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) who can oversee the full range of digital strategies and drive change across the organization.

Traditionally, digital was positioned as part of the marketing function within the business, responsible for driving the organization’s online presence. The last two years have seen the rise of the Chief Digital Officer, a senior executive who sits at the right hand of the CEO and is seen as instrumental to the future of the organization. For many companies, especially those in the retail and leisure sectors, digital is the fastest- growing revenue stream, and a Chief Digital Officer (or, sometimes, SVP Online) is extremely important in driving that growth. In some sectors, such as traditional media, the CDO often will have been hired to help transform the company as its products evolve digitally.

The increasing importance of the role eventually will put CDOs in the queue for CEO succession.

The spike in demand for Chief Digital Officers has been felt globally. The challenge in Asia is more about attracting talented executives to join established companies who otherwise might set up their own digital enterprise.

The sharp rise in demand for CDOs has been matched by an equally sharp rise in the level of compensation offered. Pay and benefits put the Chief Digital Officer on par or above other executives at Board or sub-Board levels.

Capgemini UK has appointed Dr Cliff Evans as its first ever Chief Digital Officer, in a bid to increase benefits from new opportunities arising from digital, online, social media and mobile technologies.

Evans previously created Capgemini’s Digital Services Orchestration framework for cloud services, Immediate, which underpins the delivery of large-scale digital solutions for clients in the UK and overseas.

“New technologies are transforming consumer and business behaviour as never before, and I am delighted that Cliff Evans, who has the vision to understand the possibilities that these technologies offer, is to be our first Chief Digital Officer,” said Christine Hodgson, Chairman of Capgemini.