By Dinte
Jan. 21, 2013

Over the past decade, technology has revolutionized the way organizations conduct business.  These changes are visible in nearly every aspect of life. Kindergarteners are learning how to add and subtract on iPads.  College students are earning their degrees online in the comfort of their parents’ basement (parents everywhere are thrilled). Business executives can skip the ticket counter at the airport and get their boarding pass on their iPhones. Today’s digital age has presented numerous opportunities and challenges for organizations looking to stay ahead of evolving technology and consumer behavior.

As digital media continues to evolve, so does the organizational structure within an organization.  Over the past few years, many organizations have decided to add one more chair to the executive board room, a spot reserved for the Chief Digital Officer (CDO).  According to a recent study by Gartner, one quarter of all organizations will have a CDO by 2015.

So what does a CDO do? Due to ever-changing technology and customer demands, the answer to that question continues to evolve. The primary role of this executive is to develop and execute digital strategy across multiple platforms including web, mobile, social, and local. This person is a driver of digital innovation and must discover new ways to present and sell products and/or services through digital media.  The CDO develops a unified user interface that ensures all customers will receive a similar digital experience no matter which platform they use.  They must not only be masters of digital but also have strong overall business acumen.  According to David Willis, vice president at Gartner, “The Chief Digital Officer 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.”

Due to the complex role of the CDO, finding the right candidate to fill this position may be a challenge.  The role is unique in that it requires a balance of both technical ability and business acumen.  In working with our clients, Dinte Executive Search has identified several key competencies necessary for this position.

• Leadership. CDOs by definition are transformational leaders. They inspire, motivate, and influence people and organizations to move in a new or different direction.

• Vision. CDOs have a vision for the future. They are able to see “through the maze” to identify opportunities, white space, and potential revenue streams. They also thrive on innovation and look at ordinary things in a new way.

• Results, Results, Results. The most successful CDOs literally capitalize on their vision by driving business results. They tie everything to measurable results important to the organization. They are willing to take measured risks -- and make the tough decision when an initiative is not yielding the desired results.

• Strategic Agility. Today’s CDOs need to be adaptable, flexible, and agile. The evolving world of digital, coupled with each industry’s own dynamic changes, requires CDOs to deftly navigate within their organizations, gain internal and external buy-in, influence the key influencers, and get things done.

Do you have a CDO in your organization? How do you think a CDO can add value to an executive team?

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