It is a sad fact that despite being a major exporter of IT services, India has lagged behind China & other countries in digital business transformation. This is finally now set to change. Driven by the Government’s “Digital India” program with its 22 initiatives, businesses across spectrum are being reinvented through digital technology to improve the way they perform & serve their constituents.
In the past few years, organisations have been rapidly transforming their business activities, processes, competencies & models, leveraging the opportunities presented by digital technology. With the predominance of social media, mobile apps, analytics, internet of things and the cloud, digital technology enables a more targeted approach to marketing, more scientific decision-making, and new types of customer relationships. The opportunities for competitive differentiation are unprecedented – but so are the challenges, the key being the drivers of this change. Enter the Chief Digital Officer, tasked to drive this digital business transformation. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to call him the Chief Transformation Officer, simply because just implementing technology alone will not bring about digital transformation. It will require changing organizational mindsets to reap the potential of those technologies.
To successfully become a digital enterprise, digital transformation must begin at the very top, the C-suite, for it calls for complete retooling of businesses, operating models, products & services. And the person driving this change must be a part of the top management, an enterprise leader, who not only understands new technology but has a strong grasp of general management & various functions within the organisation. Unless driven from the top, effective transformation will remain a dream.
As per a report by Deloitte Digital, authored by Peter Hughes, a CDO has a potentially vital role to play in enhancing the rest of the C-suite.
- The CDO can be a catalyst for the transformation and innovation agenda of the CEO.
- For the chief marketing officer, the CDO can support the shift from transactional marketing to engagement served up through social, mobile, search and wearables.
- For the chief information officer, the CDO can help to build a complementary team of technical resources. CDO = front end, CIO = back end.
- For the chief strategy officer, the CDO supports the strategic direction of the organisation by creating new opportunities to enter new markets.
- For the chief operating officer, the CDO enables operational efficiencies, including digitising internal operations and creating end user tools.
The role of a CDO today is seen as a convergence of a CMO (general management) & a CTO (technology) & gaining increasing importance as digital (the technology that generates, stores & processes data) lays the foundation of new ways of doing business. With corporate strategy likely to become indistinguishable from corporate strategy, this role could well be elevated to a CEO. Hughes says that as CEOs take charge of digital enterprises, the CDO’s role could become redundant in the future & the digital team could become a non-strategic operations group managing content, platforms and apps. But till then, a CDO’s position at the top of C-suite is assured.