The changing dynamics of this challenging C-level role require extraordinary human insight, an eye for innovation, and innate customer obsession

While digital transformation (DX) is a technological change, at its root it is also a cultural one.

DX essentially requires going beyond introducing new technologies that enable innovation — and influencing the working style and mentality of every person in an organization.

As an agent of this change, a new C-suite position has emerged in the last year or two: the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) — a senior leader whose main responsibility is to drive the cross-functional transformation of her/his company into a fully digital enterprise. Having this role on board means making the best use of technology to solve critical business problems.

The CDO is expected to have a hold over the proper utilization of technology and digital tools to bridge the gap between “old” and “new”. With their role more important now than ever, many organizations will need to move beyond a vague, ill-defined, or outdated job description and enlist well-definedresponsibilities that should be part of a CDO’s job description. Essentially, this means keeping customers at the core: by engaging with them, listening to their feedback, and utilizing their unique role of improvising customer experience. 

How CDOs can thrive
In most organizations today, CDOs effectively cross-collaborate with C-suite executives for a better outcome.

Hence, it is crucial for top management to understand the changing dynamics of the CDO role, which reports directly to the CEO. The latter’s responsibility is to set the right expectations and provide the CDO with a platform to bring out the best results. It is also ideal that the CDO works in tandem with other C-suite executives for efficient navigation of the organization’s goals.

Here are some suggestions on how this can be achieved:

    1. Have well-defined goals for the present and future
      To digitalize a firm, simply transforming everything analog into digital is not enough. Therefore, in order to succeed in this path, an organization must first map strategic interests and objectives in order to create a compelling digital strategy for its corporate future.

      The CEO and CDO should find solutions to recent market problems together, identify beneficial digital technologies, understand changing customer patterns, and more. Once these are better evaluated, CDOs must step into execution and distinctly formulate key responsibility areas.

    2. Instill a culture of customer obsession
      Customers of today are demanding better experiences from the organizations they do business with, and firms must meet, if not exceed, those demands in order to stand out from the crowd.

      As a C-suite leader, driving change with customers in mind is a CDO’s key to success. The CDO needs to invest tireless efforts towards creating strong relationships with customers. By combining tech expertise with real-world human insight, CDOs will be better positioned to tackle and preempt challenges exceptionally, to deliver tangible business value.

    3. Develop an eye for innovation
      Other than having a customer-obsessed vision, a CDO needs to have out-of-the-box thinking. A good CDO will thus have an open mind to taking on new risks and harnessing different technologies with the aim of finding the best way to integrate them and convert the opportunity in favor of the firm’s success.

In this light, it is imperative for organizations to heavily invest and hire the right person for the job: a visionary that understands the importance of the above-mentioned steps in his/her position.

Expectations of the CDOs of tomorrow are higher than ever — with the world looking at them as they take the lead in driving the digital change necessary for each organization to make its mark out there.