As businesses are evolving at a rapid pace, digital transformation has taken a centre stage, and so has the role of chief digital officer. While the position isn’t very new, their roles and responsibilities have evolved substantially over the time as they are no more responsible just for introducing the basic digital capabilities but transforming the overall processes to get a better sync with the disrupting technologies.
As McKinsey rightly pointed out CDO as “transformer in chief”, they are charged with coordinating and managing comprehensive changes—that may include everything from updating how a company works to building entirely new business.
Chief Digital Officer vs. the others
The C-suite today is crowded with attractive titles and companies are carving out new executive roles such as as chief data officer and chief analytics officer, being the popular ones. Though these roles have different functions, they may overlap quite often. While the latter are responsible for overseeing the data in an organisation and carrying out data analysis, the profile of chief digital officer often goes on and off with analytics. The popular roles and responsibilities that define chief digital officer comprises envisioning a company’s digital future—keeping in mind its people, processes, technology and how digital enables all of that.
Though all these titles were created to harness the power of data, each of them approaches the problem in slightly different manner. To give an overview, while the role of chief data officer is to mainly manage data by collecting high quality and meaningful data, creating an infrastructure to store it, chief analytics officer is usually responsible for data analysis and business intelligence, and generating insights out of data. Whereas chief digital officer’s role is to change the overall business process.
CDO may come from various backgrounds such as technology, data science, marketing, and play a role in building strategies and overall business ability. As businesses are becoming more data driven, the role of CDOs has become popular than ever.
Roles and responsibilities of chief digital officer
That being said, what are the major roles and responsibilities that’s perceived to be taken by a chief digital officer? They are expected to leverage the technology expertise of an often-marginalised IT department, to begin with. As long as two years ago, a chief digital officer was expected to map the digital capabilities, bring about digital process innovation, develop digital project portfolio or measure new efficiencies, but today, the profile is associated with much more than that—use of analytics being one of them. They work closely with the CEO, CIO, and financial officer to shape up the strategies.
As we mentioned earlier, just being focused on digital experience into a bringing a combination of strategy, innovation, technology and operations, chief digital officer has come a long way.
How chief digital officer can utilise analytics
Since the late 2015, sectors like insurance and banking has seen a tremendous increase in these roles, where they have started bringing advanced technologies in combination with new business models and processes. For instance, Amazon is using deep learning in combination with other technologies like computer vision and sensor fusion”, to delight their customers with unique new shopping experiences, amongst many other instances.
The relevance of customers has increased tremendously over the years and companies are looking forward to know and understand their customers better. With technology and customer habits changing so quickly, companies are looking to develop a deep and detailed customer behaviour across all channels. CDO can do the big data mapping of these paths to explore various opportunities, create clear and visually compelling dashboards on the customer journey etc., which will help the businesses to start thinking about the customer in a more specific way.
“Digital capabilities ultimately provide an important foundation for improving the customer experience. It’s up to the CDO to identify those functions where digital is critical: for example, investing in automation capabilities to rapidly respond to customer interactions, developing sophisticated reporting and analytics capabilities to interpret customer needs, building innovative interfaces to gather customer data”, wrote McKinsey in its company blog post.
The new chief digital officer is expected to build agility, speed and act upon the data to build crucial strategies, better capabilities and move on with better plans. If the collected data show a prototype that doesn’t work, CDO’s role is to decide what’s best for the organisation without being biased. Based on analytics on this data, they also play a role in establishing flexible budgeting processes so that projects that show signs of success can get resources to scale quickly.
Why analytics should be on his agenda as a priority?
The present day CDOs are also being responsible for sorting out their data strategy in an organisation, which includes analytics, regulatory compliance and more. It is about creating insights from these data to deliver business growth by overcoming the limitations. As the power of data and analytics is profoundly altering the business landscape, capturing on this avenue has become a mandate. CDO too need to acquire a knowledge on data analytics so that they can understand what’s rapidly becoming feasible and to embrace data for greater benefits.
CDO’s across organisations have realised the importance of data and analytics, and are constantly adopting these tools to deliver better performance in terms of productivity and capturing customer behaviour. Capturing the potential of data analytics can very well help them establish priorities, plan a well defined path and fetch good business results. The creation of powerful data assets along with properly implanted statistical and analytics tools therefore is an agenda for most CDOs. It not only underwrites and effective planning but ensures an overall growth.
Any business is always about people, processes and technology, and if digital along with analytics is enabling them, there could be a no better platform to implement it, and CDOs are doing just that.
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Srishti currently works as Associate Editor at Analytics India Magazine. When not covering the analytics news, editing and writing articles, she could be found reading or capturing thoughts into pictures.