An analyst from Garner, an information technology research company, estimates that 25 percent of all businesses will employ a Chief Digital Officer by 2015. This individual will manage the digital side of business operation – such as social media, online customer service, and Internet marketing. The question is whether this new position should exist in a sphere outside of the established IT department and current business framework.
A History Lesson
In the 1990s, some companies experimented with e-commerce teams that managed developing digitalization. The process caused confusion because these teams were not part of the tech service. There were territorial disputes and duplications of effort. It was a failure of both efficiency and collaboration.
The current shift toward utilizing a CDO might be a similar situation, and it has the possibility of producing similar pitfalls.
The Changing Scope of IT
The problem is seeing the advancement of digital services as something other than a shift in information technology. IT is evolving into a department that includes marketing venues, customer-oriented technology, and other forms of digitalization.
Given that viewpoint, it might be more productive for businesses to work within the current business framework and build on what is already there instead of trying to force a new role. Many companies have a Chief Information Officer. One choice might be to rename and reorient that title and position so that it covers the digital scope and emphasizes the IT sector in that equation.
A second option is to regroup the market-facing services under the IT umbrella and have those in that division report to the CIO. There is a clear connection between application development and the digital functions of marketing. Once incorporated into one department, they can segregate into two divisions – one under the CDO and one for back-office IT processing.
Companies could break down business solutions and back-office functions to work under two department heads. The infrastructure sector would report to a Chief Technology Officer, and the business side could work under the CDO. If an enterprise currently operates within the CTO model, it might consider assigning market-facing technology under that one realm as well.
The point is that many of the responsibilities considered for this new title of Chief Digital Officer are not new at all. They just exist under different labels. IT is the heart of digitalization. It only makes sense that they be part of that focus and not left outside of it.