What a chief digital officer is and why you need one now

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Your digital transformation projects may be a work in progress, and chances are you need a dedicated specialist to helm that effort. That’s likely one major reason executives are now embracing the Chief Digital Officer role.

According to a recent Mindtree[2] study, 76% of business and IT leaders believe the CDO role is now more relevant than ever before. On top of that, 81% think they need to hire a CDO in the near future. So what does a Chief Digital Officer really do, and why do you need one? Let’s take a look at the evolving role of the Chief Digital Officer in today’s digitized marketplace.

What’s a Chief Digital Officer?

The Chief Digital Officer (CDO) spearheads an organization’s digital strategies, driving change and growth throughout the organization, according to Russell Reynolds Associates[3]. Beyond a superior digital skillset, a Chief Digital Officer also powers organizational change management processes and initiatives. As a key member of the executive team, the CDO is able to mobilize employees to adapt to new digital business processes throughout the company.

According to the Mindtree study, the main roles and responsibilities of a CDO are:

  • Design and implement a strategy to transform business processes
  • Create customer-centric digital experiences
  • Implement new digital business models with an eye toward strategic growth and change
  • Measure ROI on digital transformation initiatives
  • Lead a cross-functional drive toward digital transformation

Why You Need a CDO on Your Team

An impressive 82% of leaders believe their CDO has helped them achieve their digital transformation and customer-centric business goals. Here’s why a CDO can help you execute your digital transformation strategies:

Technology is evolving rapidly

With a CDO on your team, you can ensure your business carries out an effective digital strategy and meets its business objectives. Each year, new digital technology innovations are on the rise. Employing a full-time CDO ensures your organization stays on track with its competitors to deliver a fully customer-centric experience. The CDO keeps abreast of the rapid pace of technological innovation, which can lead to a long-term role instead of a short-term position.

Ability to lead change management

Usually, a CDO has a specific challenge to overcome: a change-resistant culture. Top CDOs tend to identify a vision and provide the support needed to carry out digital transformation objectives, according to ZDNet[4]
These soft skills separate CDOs from people in other IT roles. CDOs need to be successful at convincing people to buy into their vision.

More customer-centric approaches are necessary

CDOs have the digital aptitude to create a more enjoyable, seamless digital experience for organizations. Their unique and specialized skill set can speed up the transition and help your organization recoup its investment more rapidly.

Help develop supporting digital talent

A CDO can more easily spot the support staff you need to carry out that digital transformation initiative, helping to identify the exact skills for a particular area or project, such as AI (Artificial Intelligence) or blockchain.

Bottom Line

If driving digital transformation is your goal, a Chief Digital Officer can help you realize that goal with a focused and strategic vision. Hiring a dedicated CDO can also help you keep pace with today’s rapidly changing tech innovations.


  1. ^ Sign up for Business Transformation SmartBrief today, free (www2.smartbrief.com)
  2. ^ Mindtree (www.mindtree.com)
  3. ^ Russell Reynolds Associates (www.russellreynolds.com)
  4. ^ ZDNet (www.zdnet.com)

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