Breakthrough or buddy-up: two strategies for chief digital officers


Nearly every public sector agency has a Chief Digital Officer now, but redesigning organisations to succeed in a digital world takes more than just a title.

Growth of the chief digital officer role has been incredibly rapid over the last few years, reflecting the increasing importance of technology to organisational success and survival.

However not all CDO roles are created equal, with enormous variation in their responsibilities, resourcing and capability to generate change, in the form of digital transformation, in the organisations they serve. Some have direct responsibility for business lines and IT teams, others serve primarily as advocates and influencers in the C-suite, with little in the way of direct reports or operational responsibilities.

The candidates appointed as CDOs have also vary enormously in background, some from ‘pure’ IT careers, others from a mix of IT and business and still others from business-based disciplines.

An additional complication is that due to there being so many new CDO roles emerging, in many cases both the organisation and candidate are new to the role. This means the definition of the role might not be as clear as for well-established and understood roles, organisations may be less clear on what characteristics they require.

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