CDOs ‘have key impact in digital transformation’
Written by Peter Walker
Contrary to a widespread belief that the chief digital officer (CDO) position has a short shelf-life, an overwhelming majority of business and IT professionals participating in a new survey saw their organisation’s CDO as champion for achieving digital transformation and delivering customer benefit.
Technology services firm Mindtree interviewed 323 global business and IT professionals in the US and UK who work under a CDO, finding that the those in that position have been effective in championing many business-driving digital initiatives, such as giving customers the seamless digital experiences (27 per cent) and creating new business models (20 per cent).
The report suggested that there is a widespread sense that the CDO is an ambiguous role, whose functions and responsibilities could be distributed among different members of the c-suite. But contrary to these claims, the survey showed today’s business and IT professionals see a clear need for the continuance of the CDO position, with 74 per cent of respondents stating that their organisation’s CDO has clearly defined responsibilities and 81 per cent agreeing that these responsibilities are differentiated enough that a dedicated CDO position is needed.
Respondents also stated that the CDO role is becoming even more relevant compared to when it was first created (76 per cent).
Business and IT leaders named a deep understanding of technology (61 per cent) and the ability to execute digital strategies (53 per cent) as their CDO’s main skills. Almost 70 per cent of respondents said their CDO comes from an IT background, suggesting that while many CDOs possess a good combination of technology understanding and ‘soft skills’, they may have less visibility into or are still acquiring an understanding of how parts of the business function.
A further 84 per cent of respondents in organisations whose CDO came from an IT background said their company had made ‘significant’ digital progress since the role was created, compared to 73 per cent who come from organisations with a CDO having a non-IT, business background, answering the same.
About a third of respondents (32 per cent) named change-resistant culture as the biggest obstacle CDO’s face in making greater progress. When asked what the CDO needs most in order to be successful with digitising the business, 38 per cent of respondents said it will require more collaboration across business units, combined with an infusion of new talent with skills aligned to in-demand technologies.
Sreedhar Bhagavatheeswaran, senior vice president and head of digital at Mindtree, commented: “We’re not surprised that the CDO role is not seen as a limited duration project or initiative leadership role, but much more of a long-term change agent.
“Our conversations with executives shows that it’s a pivotal role for enterprises to fully embrace the potential of digital technologies – with technology change accelerating, the CDO needs to master technologies like cloud and AI and deeply understand the business to be successful.”
To learn more – please read the 2019 Digital Trends: Financial Services in Focus report. Download here