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Delivering Digital

Farewell Chief Digital Officer?

The CDO position will vanish by 2022, analyst predicts

In this era of digital transformation, the relatively new role of the chief digital officer (CDO) has come front and center in many enterprises. But a new analyses out this week predicting  that the role is already facing extinction.

According to 2014 research from the European-based CDO Club, the number of working chief digital officers doubled in 2013 to nearly 500, with salaries for these positions ranged from $250,000 to $750,000. The “conservative” prediction at that time was that the number of working CDOs would double within the year 2014.

It’s amazing what a difference a few years can make. A new study from Deloitte Digital now predicts that the CDO position will be gone by 2020.

This week, IDC A/NZ analyst Sean Ashari agreed, and in an interview with CIO Australia the analyst predicted that by 2022 “ the chief digital officer (CDO) title will be in decline, as digital will have become fully embedded into business, while the CDO’s responsibility is spread across the executive team.”

Ashari said the executives that lead digital growth will have a high probability of jumping up to the CEO level to grow the company in that direction. At the same time, he also predicts more than 40 percent of CEOs will have spent part of their careers leading digital initiatives by 2022.

“While the CDO role has become more common amongst Australian organizations over the last few years, when forecasting into the future, one can see digital becoming more and more embedded into the business,” he told CIO Australia.

Does that mean the CIO will take the lead on executing a digital transformation strategy? According to Ashari the answer is “depends.”

“I would say yes, if a CIO has shown the capability to be able to lead digital initiatives in the multidisciplinary environment of their organization, understanding user journeys that they might not necessarily has experience with, and producing results in terms of efficiency or revenue growth, I would say that a CIO can become the CDO, and, if highly successful, can become the digital CEO that organization needs to grow.”

Of course, there are plenty of pundits who aren’t ready to count the CDO position out just yet, just as many major enterprises that have yet to get Ashari’s memo. According to recent studies, the percentage of enterprises with a dedicated or acting CDO rose from 25% in 2017 to 49% in 2018, and we’ve seen very recent movement that indicate the rise will continue, including a move by investment bank UBS to split leadership of its Group Technology Management Committee into two roles, adding a CDO role to work in tandem with the CTO position, both reporting into the CIO.



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