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article imageWhy businesses need a chief digital transformation officer

By Tim Sandle     Apr 19, 2018 in Business
As businesses grapple with the complexities of digital transformation, some companies have decided a new C-level role is required to help direct digital operations. What does the role of the chief digital transformation officer involve?
For most types of businesses, digital transformation is a must given the shift in consumer behaviors to towards online activity and the expectations of millennials and Generation Z for rapid, easy-to-access multi-channel experiences. In addition, as more businesses 'go digital', the businesses-to-business landscape is dependent upon digital transfactions. These tendencies are borne out by a NETSCOUT survey that showed eight in ten IT and business decision makers being of the collective view that digital transformation was an urgent requirement for business. Moreover, the expenditure on transformative programs will rise substantially across many businesses over the next three years.
Do senior leaders have the required time and skills?
With these developments underway, some businesses are starting to consider if they have the right senior leadership team to deliver the necessary transformation. CEOs and CFOs are focused on particular functions, and although the CTO may seem, on paper, to have the right skills for seeing new technologies incorporated the focus tends to be quite narrow and there is little time for the CTO to look at the bigger picture or for devoting time to the cultural aspects required for organizational change.
As it stands the conventional C-suite roles may not have the necessary skill set and they are even less likely to have the time to oversee the digital transformation project through, business wide.
Introducing the chief digital transformation officer
This is why some businesses have created a new role — the chief digital transformation officer (or CDxO), according to a review of emergent businesses sacrifices by Information Age.
Key duties
The duties will vary from company to company, but will include acting as the "transformer in chief.” By this, the role is tasked with coordinating and managing comprehensive digital changes. Changes include updating how a company needs to works in the digital age and seeking market intelligence on what other companies, especially sector rivals, are doing in terms of transformative activities.
Other functions of the chief digital transformation officer, according to a McKinsey survey, include making digital integral to the strategy, which could involve acquiring technologies, or investing in innovations. A second area is focusing on the customer, trying to see what customers want and understanding what the customer experience needs to look like. This can be twinned with, as the website CIO considers, building customer loyalty and the protecting the brand. A third area involves shaking up the business by building in agility, speed, and data management.
The role also steers changes by creating internal digital factories. These are cross-functional groups that are tasked with developing a product or process using a different technology to what is already in place. In conjunction with the technology the groups may also be looking at new operations or altering managerial methodology.
Finally, the CDxO needs to be aware of business trends. This includes data collection and analysis about opportunities and threats, such as those stemming from start-ups that are introducing new technologies with the potential to undermine conventional business models.
Seeking the right type of person
To achieve these tasks a certain type of person will be required. Newham London Borough Council recently profiled a chief digital transformation officer role, stating they were seeking a "pioneering thinker...a disrupter...an influencer...an entrepreneur...a credible leader." Perhaps 'influencer' is the most important trait required: to determine who and where the influencers within and outside the business; empowering the influencers with tools to drive the message and brand to actual and potential customers; and engaging in bi-directional dialogue with customers.
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