You already know the CIO (Chief Information Officer), the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) as well as the COO (Chief Operations Officer). Now let’s say hello to the newest arrival, the CDO, or Chief Digital Officer. By 2015, 25% of companies will use a CDO. An introduction to this new executive who is perhaps already essential to your company.
The Chief Digital Officer: the CEO’s new right-hand man?
Companies have no choice if they wish to keep up with technological changes and respond to consumers’ specific demands: they must continue to become more agile. Digital strategies and the use of digital tools can no longer be compartmentalized. Whether web, mobile, social or local…digital technology is omnipresent for today’s companies. To address these challenges, companies are now recruiting CDOs. Chief Digital Officers oversee this strategy and are in charge of the transformations brought about in the company. Does it seem that the brutal changes caused by digital transformation need their own boss? The CDO is that boss.
While digital technology was traditionally seen as a component of the marketing department, digital managers can now take their place at the CEO’s table. Why? Because for many companies, digital technology is the channel experiencing the strongest growth in terms of revenue generation. Digital directors thus enjoy the right to speak their mind. Their opinions interest those at the very highest levels of the country. A good Chief Digital Officer needs to be up to date on all digital issues as well as an excellent communicator in order to perform their duties in a cross-cutting way. These candidates are hard to find, recruit and keep. So many talents are required that many people already see the position as a springboard to general management! The CDO: management’s new darling?
The CDO: a new strategic partner for the company
As contradictory as it may seem, the Chief Digital Officer has a limited shelf life. By working in a cross-cutting way, for the benefit of all the other departments in the company, CDOs bring in a breath of fresh air. They support those that are the most resistant to change, push companies to introduce data analysis tools and management solutions. Better yet, they educate the entire company about digital technology. In reality, their work will eventually make them obsolete. If they are successful, the company will transform into a connected company…that no longer needs a CDO! This is an ironic state of affairs for a position that is currently booming.
Candidates seeking a job as CDO are faced with a dilemma. They may see traditional, well-established companies as “out of their depth” and prefer to join groups that are evolving in an already mature market in terms of digital issues. And yet, these are the companies faced with less serious challenges. From the perspective of companies that are hiring, some habits will also need to be changed in order to make room for a CDO. CDOs are innovative, rewrite the rulebook and are able to interact with everyone…they may become an interesting topic for HR departments to study, but the future of many companies may also depend on whether they can be integrated successfully!
A few recent examples:
- La Poste Group has named Nathalie Colin as CDO (formerly the Deputy CEO in charge of communication)
- Sanofi Pasteur MSD appointed Norbert Seimandi as Chief Digital & Information Officer Europe.
- The French government has not been left behind either: Henri Verdier will become the first CDO of the French government
Other examples include Vivek Badrinath at Accor, Lubomira Rochet for L’Oréal and Thomas Romieu, Global Digital Director at LVMH.