Strategic CIO // IT Strategy
Commentary
6/5/2014
03:20 PM
Susan Nunziata
Susan Nunziata
Commentary
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The CIO's 2 New BFFs

Now that business is digital at its core, it's time to buddy up with the CDO and CMO.

Is your business digital? A better question to ask is: Which part of your business isn't digital? Most organizations -- whether they are corporations, government agencies, healthcare organizations, or educational institutions -- are now digital at the core, including their interactions with customers.

Still not convinced? Here's what George Westerman, a researcher at the MIT Center for Digital Excellence, had to say about the companies that his research has found to be "digital masters." For them, "technology is not technology. It's an opportunity to rethink the processes of how they do business."

[Lets not forget the question of corporate culture. Read Geeks Versus Jocks: CIOs, Beware Your Culture.]

He discussed his team's research during a panel session on business transformation at last month's MIT Sloan CIO Symposium in Boston. "Digital masters all have a common approach to managing digital and are 26% more profitable than their peers," he said. "They lead differently. For all the talk we've seen [advising us to] 'let innovation happen around your organization,' these leaders drive transformation from the top down."

Westerman and his research partners identify companies as digital masters if they meet the following two criteria:

  • They invest in technology with the viewpoint that it represents an opportunity to transform their business, and they have leaders who are proactive about finding ways to use digital technology to benefit all aspects of the business.
  • They drive technology innovation across all business departments, marrying a clear digital vision with a strong governance foundation, preparing the company to change, and seeing that change through.

He gave some examples in a prepared statement, citing Nike, Caesar's Entertainment, and Chilean mining company Codelco as digital masters:

[Nike] is end-to-end digital, from supply chain to design and marketing. It combines custom-designed social media with a digital supply chain. By creating its Nike Digital Sport group, Nike linked all of these functions together, and the company is able to launch more products, customize products, test new designs, and customize advertising to a highly personal level. Within a Caesar's venue, customers are supplied with a concierge on their personal phones that immediately responds to any need, perceived or actual. And the largest copper company in the world, Codelco, is using digital technology both to track production in its copper mines and to update customers about orders. Digital technology also allows Codelco to use driverless mining trucks, and it may even help increase production while minimizing the volume of human activity underground and corresponding safety concerns.

According to a report released earlier this year by Forrester Research, the "biggest test on the road to becoming a digital business is convincing senior management that it's worth the effort. Only one in six of the 1,254 global business execs surveyed by Forrester said his or her company has the competencies to execute a digital strategy.

Indeed, as he noted during the MIT CIO Symposium, "If you think of your organization as a caterpillar, then digital should turn you into a butterfly." The problem, he said, is that many of the businesses his group has studied "are using digital to turn themselves into really fast caterpillars."

What does all this mean for CIOs? For one thing, it's time to

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Susan Nunziata works closely with the site's content team and contributors to guide topics, direct strategies, and pursue new ideas, all in the interest of sharing practicable insights with our community. Nunziata was most recently Director of Editorial for ... View Full Bio
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Broadway0474
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Broadway0474,
User Rank: Strategist
6/9/2014 | 11:33:31 PM
Re: CDO turf
Do any of these consultancies like a Forrester keep track of how many Fortune 1000 organizations have a CDO? Who is pushing for these newfangled C-suite positions? Consultancies like Forrester? If I were a CIO, I would be pissed if my CEO decided to create a CDO. Slap in the face. Likewise for a CMO.
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Strategist
6/9/2014 | 1:53:21 PM
Re: CDO turf
 

 Sane I agree the proliferation of C levels often causes role conflict and slow down the progress. For some organizations it might make sense to have a CDO for others a digital specialist that reports to another c level might be better suited. I don't think it's a one size fits all org chart. There is allot to be said for being lean and nimble at the top.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
6/9/2014 | 7:23:32 AM
Re: CDO turf
With the CDO/CMO and various other titles it makes me wonder if we're going to see those titles shrink back in the next few years.  The org chart seems to be in a state of expansion for the C levels right now but when we start having more specific titles added it sounds like a bubble forming.  Maybe there are companies out there who need a CDO and a CIO but I can't say that I've ever been part of one of those companies.   The hand offs between such similar roles makes me wonder how responsibilities will be split, how departments are staffed and how they avoid duplicating positoins.
jastro
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jastro,
User Rank: Ninja
6/7/2014 | 10:46:29 AM
Re: CDO turf
A quick look at the Glassdoor listings shows 388 openings for a CDO and 4,473 openings for a CIO. New roles take a long time to catch on (if they do); the one I'm thinking of is CMO, which is a relatively new role in an organization (the last decade or so). There are still companies that don't know how to create or empower a CMO.

The CDO is the digital business strategist the CIO will never become because the latter is focused on more basic aspects about technology than the former. Whether CEOs realize they need a digital strategist along with a technology manager may depend on their marketplace performance and stock price. In the meantime, if your organization has a CDO, getting to know them is probably a very good idea.
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/6/2014 | 6:02:50 PM
Re: CDO turf
@snunyc

Gee, I still remain unconvinced that a CDO will have an obvious mission inside the organization. You see these well-known names pop up inside a company now and again, spreading the Digital Message. Except that message is 10 years old. 

Given a post-Snowden internet, someone that figures out how to use carbon paper and multiple forms in a manila envelope is powerful and far less likely to be intercepted by NSA types. Does the CDO tell us when to stop using things digital?
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/6/2014 | 4:33:53 PM
Re: CDO turf
@SaneIT: Yup, there are a lot of new "c-level" titles being flung around, as well as the concept of the "CIO Plus" role, which is sort of a catch-all for anything to do with tech and business. Re. the CMO, the language and culture barriers there are hard to overcome, I've seen this firsthand as well. Everybody's got their jargon and perspectives. To some degree, a CDO might be able to be the liaison between those two worlds, or the CIO/CDO/CMO combo could be powerful. That requires people who are open to collaboration and not so married to their own corner of the business that they can't step back and take a wider view. It's almost as if meetings between the CIO and CMO require someone who can act as a simultaneous translator, as in high-level multinational diplomatic meetings. Could a CDO could fit that role?
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/6/2014 | 4:25:01 PM
Re: CDO turf
@Li Tan: It's party an issue of data velocity/volume and party an issue of business acumen. CIOs would do well to take on the role or appoint someone to their team who can handle the full scope of digital in the enterprise. Where I see the difference is that the CDO role seems to be a business-first role, rather than a tech-first role. Some CIOs also take that POV, though far too many are still head's down in tech, focusing on keeping the lights on and cutting costs. It really comes down to a matter of having the vision to see how technology can truly transform operations, both in terms of customer-facing and interally facing functionality. The two roles can be complementary and make for a powerful team if done right.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/6/2014 | 4:08:21 PM
Re: CDO turf
@larryloeb: Turf war is the traditional way this could play out, though IMHO the smart CIOs will welcome a CDO and/or work to expand their own role to encompass the CDO responsibilities. The way the CDO role typically is playing out right now is similar to what Tanya Cordrey describes, which is essentially almost one of "Digital Evangelist" who looks at how to tie together customer-facing apps and offerings with back-end infrastructure across the business. Some CIOs already are doing this, and those who are still taking a command-and-control view of IT are going to be hurt in the long run.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
6/6/2014 | 7:39:54 AM
Re: CDO turf
I can't say that I've ever heard of a CDO but I have to agree that I feel like this should fall into the CIOs bucket.  Are we going to start an era of inflated C level positions the way we saw middle management explode a decade or so ago?

 

Shifting gears and discussing the relationship between a CIO and CMO, I can see the issue.  I often feel like I'm speaking a different language when working with a marketing group.  They throw around technical terms like they understand what they mean but when I act on them in a very IT like fashion it becomes obvious that we see are using different definitions.
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
6/6/2014 | 1:51:24 AM
Re: CDO turf
The debating for CxO seems to be endless. I have the same concern here - do we need CDO? Why can't CIO take the responsibility? Or our data volume/variety/velocity is so big that we need a dedicated executive to handle it...?
<<   <   Page 9 / 10   >   >>
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