More and more companies are looking to their management team for direction in preparing for an increasingly digital future. Under the label "Chief Digital Officer", they are supposed to help overcome the hurdles of digital transformation. In other companies, a Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Technology Officer (CTO) takes the role. In these cases, the profile is highly technical. In the case of a CDO, the position’s skill set is already ambiguous. The industry association bitkom describes this position as a symbiosis of commercial and IT know-how.
Sounds great. But it’s not enough of a job description!
What is the desired effect: These digital “Merlins” are supposed to initiate change and push the organization toward digitization. The target of these digital advancements is the customer and success in a changing market!
In order to bring speed and agility, two prerequisites for a successful digital transformation, to the company, we have to talk about changing information flows and fields of action. Information and direction doesn’t have to always be passed down by superiors.
All these are "discursive" tasks. Primarily, the CDO must take the employees from all departments and listen to create a willingness to change from the (by all means justified) fears. Then, in the next step, they can draw on the opportunities for change — with the knowledge and ideas of the employees. In other words, in exchange with the available resources and their expertise.
What skills should such a CDO have?
Following these guidelines, a strategy for digitalization can be developed that is accepted and supported by the company.
There is one insight already derived from the short existence of the CDO, proven by several studies: The most important stumbling block for the CDO's successful operation are — in addition to his/ her lack of decision-making authority — the company's values and working culture.