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The fleeting role of the Chief Digital Officer
Mon 12 September 2016 - 10:57 amDigital | Marketing | News | Tech
When it comes to innovation efficiency, Australia ranks 72nd – among the lowest of developed nations. This highlights the urgent need for businesses to think and act strategically about various digital transformation processes including big data, new technologies and adapting to new platforms like social and mobile.
The more digital our interactions become, the greater need there is for a role to take control of this transformation. Some may excuse a CEO’s decision to hire a chief digital officer (CDO) to help define a digital business strategy, but as ‘digital’ becomes obsolete as a standalone aspect of an organisation, the once exclusive responsibilities of the CDO will soon become ingrained across all aspects and teams.
A temporary solution to a permanent problem
To grapple with this global transformation, executives have installed a chief digital officer (CDO) to adapt the organisation for the digital world and fill the skill-set gap in the boardroom. A survey of 100 senior Australian executives found 47% believed the role of the CDO is becoming more important, while 69% view digital as a strategic element to their business. Whilst the latter is undoubtedly true, implementing a CDO to drive this digital change is neither a strategic nor clever move.
Deloitte’s recent CDO report indicates the CDO role is only temporary, and for many industries ‘digital’ will become so infused with the business that it will be nonsensical to have a separate leader and a separate team. In the long term, businesses must evolve digitally and transform all parts of their businesses to drive efficiencies and adapt to the new digital ecosystems.
Many organisations fail to realise the rise of digital technologies requires a complete overhaul of traditional business processes in order for a business to consistently be successful. According to Mckinsey, a high functioning digital company does not need a CDO and the rise of CDO roles can be directly linked to the lack of digital innovation at the majority of organisations. Instead, the roles of CMOs have been promoted to become the hubs of digital innovation.
CMOs must align corporate strategy to survive the digital era
CEOs recognise the role of the CMO as critical to the organisation of any business, providing insight and integrating with teams across all departments to ensure strategic planning. In recent times, CMOs have also been establishing their reputations as prime examples of successful digital innovation, with unique customer experiences and decision-making in these departments becoming increasingly reliant on data and new technologies. The advent of new adtech and martech have forced marketers to become more digitally nimble and face digital transformations head-on, providing them with the experience and insight well above other departments. But there is still a long way to go.
If the marketing function is ever going to be taken seriously as an organisation or business digital driver, CMOs and marketing leaders need to rise to the challenge and make digital their strongest capability. A recent study by Accenture stated that it’s up to the CMO to prove they can serve as catalysts embracing broader digital opportunities for their organisation while defending against threats.
If businesses are to truly be successful in the digital era and achieve long-term sustainability, they must place digital innovation at the core of their business. In order for them to harness the potential of the digital technologies businesses must undergo significant change in all departments.
About the author
Bill Binch is the ANZ Managing Director at Marketo, a digital marketing software and solutions company based in San Mateo, California with offices all around the world.
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