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Chief Digital Officer: a change agent

from .change-management-institute.com

Is a digital manager with the role of Chief necessary? Do CEOs really need a CDO? The debate is ongoing and a post on Gartner’s blog introduces new thought-provoking ideas. With  an important consideration: the CDO must first of all be a “change agent”

In a recent comment posted on Gartner’s blog, Peter Sondergaard doubted that the professional role of the Chief Digital Officer will last for long or will truly  put roots in corporations across the world.

Is the CDO really necessary? Sondergaard asks himself this question that emerges from a study conducted by Gartner Research, to understand if companies need a new Chief added to the many who are already  part of corporate organizational charts.

The relation between the CEO and the CDO is the matter for reflection proposed by Sondergaard, who concludes by saying that he does not believe  it’s necessary to add a new Chief to the various ones who  are already part of corporate organization charts. He gave three reasons for his conclusion, which are the result of a conversation he had with a  CIO.

  • A CDO may not have to carry a degree of accountability, budget and potential people responsibility.
  • The management team that reports to the CEO  must evolve with technology instead of externalizing it to a new Chief
  • Digitalization is not a separate role, but is rather a management skill that must instead be developed by the involved members of the leadership team

The reasons provided to reject the Chief Digital Officer do not finalise this issue, but rather give new thought-provoking ideas to whoever is analysing the role of the CDO. But the sentence with which he ends his post must be added to the three reasons given by Sondergaard, because I think it indicates a perspective that goes beyond the current observations that can refer to any corporation and any country.

The Chief Digital Officer is important “mainly as a change agent”. As companies are obliged to change their features in the age of the web 2.0 and Big Data, “the role of the CDO is still important” says Sondergaard “ to assist the CEO and boards of companies in the process of change driven by digitalization”.

Does the CDO have a role or a task? This might seem a moot point or a question such as : “What came first, the chicken or the egg?”. But I really think it’s an essential issue because  a CDO – precisely because he works in the most interactive and  mobile context of all – cannot limit his horizon to carrying out a role. In order to really execute his role, he must always keep the doors of his company open to technology and users, but also to young people  training centres and all that world of contributors who are often, too hastily, reunited under the name of crowdsourcing.


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