When it comes to digital transformation, the CDO matters, survey says

19 December 2019 Consulting.us 2 min. read
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Survey results from technology services and digital transformation consultancy Mindtree shows that the chief digital officer (CDO) role is key in driving digital transformation within organizations.

This information may seem obvious, but Mindtree posits that the CDO position is often seen as one with a short shelf – at least to C-level executives. The 323 business and IT professionals who took part in Mindtree’s survey, however, overwhelmingly responded that the CDO is an instrumental agent of change.

This contrast can be attributed to the fact that these professionals, not C-level execs, are tasked with the actual implementation of the CDO’s strategy, thus putting them in a prime spot to judge the role’s importance. Twenty-seven percent of respondents, for example, stated that the CDO is responsible for providing customers with “seamless digital experiences,” while 20% said he or she is effective in creating and pushing new business models.

"As enterprises make progress with digital transformation and discover new possibilities to reinvent their businesses, leaders across industries are making long-term investments in organization capabilities and leadership. We're not surprised that the CDO role is not seen as a limited duration project or initiative leadership role, but much more of a long-term change agent," Sreedhar Bhagavatheeswaran, senior vice president and head of digital at Mindtree, said.

When it comes to digital transformation, the CDO matters, survey says

The survey also showed that the CDO role has a true purpose  – 74% of professionals believe that their organization’s CDO has a clearly defined role, with 81% stating that these responsibilities and duties are specific and differentiated enough for a specific role, rather than those better suited for distribution among the existing C-suite.

A CDO, according to business and IT professionals, should have a deep understanding of technology, as well as an ability to carry out strategies – approximately 70% of respondents’ CDOs come from an IT background. It also seems that CDOs from IT backgrounds are more effective – or at least are perceived as such. Eighty-four percent said their company had made “significant digital progress” with an IT-linked CDO, compared to 74% of those without.

While important and needed, CDOs undoubtedly face their fair share of challenges upon accepting the role – namely change-resistant cultures, increasing intra-organization collaboration, and sourcing and retaining talent related to in-demand technologies.

"Our conversations with executives show that it's a pivotal role for enterprises to fully embrace the potential of digital technologies. With technology change accelerating, the CDO needs to master technologies like cloud and AI and deeply understand the business to be successful. They also need to understand organizational culture and navigate change management expertly to succeed," Bhagavatheeswaran said.