Chief Digital Officers (CDOs), do organisations want / need them?

The five foundations of successful IT project management
Will Astbury
by Will Astbury 22 June 2018

The debate whether major organisations need Chief Digital Officers (CDOs) and whether CIOs could and should take-up CDOs’ responsibilities is still being hotly discussed in 2018.

In April 2017, Caisha Sheikh, former CIO head-hunter within Crimson’s IT recruitment agency, penned an article entitled ‘Should CIOs apply for CDO roles?’ which determined the two roles had “vastly different” responsibilities, and that CIOs, CDOs, and CMOs (Chief Marketing Officers) should collaborate to achieve corporate objectives.

However, Harvey Nash’s 2018 CIO Survey, which was produced in collaboration with KPMG and interviewed 3,958 CIOs from across the globe, has revealed that 51% of organisations do not currently have a CDO. What’s more, it revealed that only 11% had a dedicated CDO, with 24% having the CIO fulfilling this role, and with 14% having another job title owning CDO responsibilities.

What do these figures say about whether organisations actually need CDOs? Well, if we look at those figures from another perspective, half of all organisations identify as having a dedicated or acting CDO. Therefore, it has been recognised that someone is required to drive the value of digital in the business, across technology and operations.

We might even conclude that, as these roles are relatively new to many organisations, that the 51% of organisations that don’t have a CDO just haven’t caught up yet. Indeed, this newness can be viewed as beneficial, as the CDO role has less legacy and baggage than more traditional roles like the CIO, although many CIOs would argue that they are CDOs in everything but job title.

It’s worth noting that CIOs serving as CDOs dwarfed the number of dedicated CDOs by over two to one, and the size of the IT budget is directly proportional to the likelihood of having a dedicated CDO, with larger organisations much more likely to have one.

The survey also discovered that digital leaders (IT leaders whose organisation was ‘very effective’ or ‘extremely effective’ at using digital technologies to advance their business strategies) were more likely to have appointed an acting or dedicated CDO, which suggests that the role may be crucial to success.

What’s more, the research showed that having a dedicated or acting CDO ensured that organisations were better placed to take advantage of digital, both in ‘redesigning business processes to take advantage of digital’ and ‘promoting a vision for digital to transform the business’. By singling out the digital remit formally, whether as a separate role or as a formal additional responsibility for an existing leader, digital transformation was accelerated and gained the attention and sponsorship of the board.

If you would like to find out more about the Harvey Nash CIO Survey 2018, click here.

To download the results of Crimson’s Annual IT Salary survey, click the image below.

Crimson IT Salary Survey

Crimson is an IT consultancy, an IT solutions provider, an IT recruitment agency, and a Microsoft Gold Partner operating across the UK.

Topics: CDO