Are you looking for a Chief Digital Officer?

Posted on 30 Aug 2017 by Jonny Williamson

For years now, companies have grappled with internal data management and the governance of structured data. Digitisation has accelerated this change, and it requires new job titles, a study shows.  

Do you need a Chief Digital Officer? – image courtesy of Pixabay

The digital disruption changes the traditional frameworks companies operate in and makes it vital that they evolve to remain competitive, a study by Robert Half UK reveals.

This has led to the rise of the CDO: chief digital officer/chief data officer. But is this the new norm for success?

As companies move away from their traditional routes to market, they need to examine how to make the most of their data, as well as its potential return on investment.

Richard Phillips, accountant director at GE, said to The Manufacturer: “For GE it is critical to have someone who has a title that enables him to solely focus on our digital strategy and road map.

“When we transition into the digital industry, we must ensure that people knew where to look when you wanted guidance in what we should be doing in different spaces in digital, and then referring to the CTO from a technology perspective.

“The CEO for us was very strategic, how do we change the game, how do we transform ourselves from a business and HR point of view, and rolling that out as a vision for the team.

“Whereas the CTO and CEO roles are very internally focused, the CDO for us has his feet in both camps. They have a lot of focus externally and they know how we do make that work for us internally.

“From a manufacturing perspective, we have 200 manufacturing sites globally, and the CDO has been crucial for us to make sure that those sites start to make use of the digital technology that are coming available from ourselves.”

“And to do so in a logical pattern, we don’ t just throw new tools at a team. We actually take them through a journey, to absorb our technology and improve the productivity. And for us that was crucial to achieve our $730m worth of cost-takeout in our manufacturing sites last year.”

For companies without a dedicated digital insights team, keeping data at the heart of the business is both a challenge and an opportunity. Adrian Hollister, head of strategy, Plymouth University said: “Data is a borderless currency. Whether a company is large or small, everyone can use data to their advantage to create a lucrative stream of revenue or cost savings.”

Whether you have a dedicated digital team led by a CDO or a culture of digitisation and analytics embedded in departmental frameworks, addressing the digital challenge needs both leadership vision and organisation-wide adoption and understanding. This brings challenges, of course, especially for small and medium-sized firms.

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