Getting a Grip on Digital Leadership

The tidal wave of digital transformation is sweeping over executive suites and boardrooms across industries and enterprises large and small. C-suite leaders, regardless of their role, are now firmly entrenched in the race to understand and capitalize on technology to innovate, reinvent and ensure the competitive future of their company. Technology – long the purview of the CIO and CTO – is now a part of every function, and the diffusion of control over technology investment brought about by the advent of mobile, social, and cloud is both an opportunity and a challenge for delivering on a strategic transformation.

With every C-suite leader involved and vested in the future of digital, one key question is who is going to lead the transformation?

This evolution has given rise to the role of Chief Digital Officer (CDO) – an executive-level champion to step in and take the reins to guide the strategy and the process.  While the role of CDO is still relatively new, there is widespread agreement about the need for digital leadership. However, there is also an ongoing debate about who should take on that job, and where the CDO role should fit into the next generation C-suite team leading digital transformation. Here are three recent articles that I think provide a useful perspective on the role of the CDO and how executives should think about getting a grip on digital leadership in their organization.

Raising Your Digital IQ, published in Strategy + Business, 2/15/16

The authors share some thought-provoking research by PwC on what it takes to be a digital leader and use digital technology to strategic advantage. In their 9 years of research, they have evolved a Digital IQ index to assess digital prowess. They share a set of 10 attributes for a digital growth engine which are worth testing against your own organization’s approach to becoming digital. They also talk about creating a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) or similar role to lead digital transformation efforts, and pose a point of discussion that suggests while this trend focuses C-suite attention on a company’s Digital IQ, it also adds to potential uncertainty regarding responsibilities and governance around technology—a debate that is useful for leaders to consider.

Chief Digital Officer or Chief IoT Officer?, published in Datamation, 2/25/16

This article takes the debate about the role and need for a Chief Digital Officer to the next step, pointing out the importance of the Internet of Things (IoT) as companies develop a strategy and drive towards digital transformation. Even as companies begin to get their arms around the role of the CDO to lead transformation and address changing customer engagement requirements, the author points out that a new set of challenges are emerging as a result of the rapidly evolving world of IoT which adds a more complicated dimension to creating a digital strategy. The discussion on IoT helps contribute to the dialog on who should lead digital, and what the span of role should comprise.

4 Must-do’s for Chief Digital Officers in 2016, published in Power More Dell, 3/4/16

This article provides a perspective on how CDOs can leverage their position driving digital innovation to have even more impact on the enterprise. The author suggests four ways for CDOs can go beyond the hip title to help shape and deliver a better customer experience: listen, continue to go mobile, lay the digital foundation and sell the strategy. They take the perspective that by listening to their audience and peers, managing connectivity, preparing for the future, and being proactive, CDOs can take command of the data driving their enterprise’s digital business. It’s worth a read to calibrate how your own organization is seizing the opportunity.

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