What Successful Chief Digital Officers Do

By Dennis McCafferty  |  Posted 2015-09-28 Email

Today's chief digital officer (CDO) must serve as an indispensable tech expert, informed customer advocate and innovation authority for the organization. Given its multifaceted value, this position is gaining an increasingly high profile in companies. The number of CDOs doubled from 2013 to 2014, and that number is expected to double again this year, according to industry research. These professionals are a breed apart from your standard executive: CDOs are 34 percent more likely to be considered innovators and 32 percent more likely to pursue disruption than other senior leaders, additional research reveals. They are strongly inclined to take swift, bold business actions, while exuding the kind of personal skills that help them avoid bruising egos. To lend further insights about what successful CDOs do, McKinsey & Co. has come up with the following best practices, as summarized in a recent article titled "Transformer in Chief: The New Chief Digital Officer." The capabilities of top CDOs include a strategic mindset, a relentless customer focus and a high comfort level with risk. "While the position isn't exactly new, what's required of the average CDO is," according to the article. "Gone are the days of being responsible for introducing basic digital capabilities and perhaps piloting a handful of initiatives. The CDO is now a 'transformer in chief,' charged with coordinating and managing comprehensive changes that address everything from updating how a company works to building out entirely new businesses. And he or she must make progress quickly." Some of the following best practices were developed by McKinsey based on its recent survey, in which executives from 150 global companies took part.

Dennis McCafferty is a freelance writer for Baseline Magazine.

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