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'Hello Chief!'- What is a Chief Digital Officer?

1 October 2017
woman staring at screen

Digital Leadership is a vital component in organizations' attempt to become a digital market-leading force thus attaining a competitive advantage over competition. Studies have shown that companies defined as digital leaders have displayed improved performance compared to other organizations:


This process has introduced a new position to many organizations; the CDO (Chief Digital Officer) who is responsible for implementing professional and organizational knowledge efficiently using leading digital tools such as knowledge videos, smart documents and presentations, portals, social networks, infographics, etc.

A CDO is characterized by four central properties: vision, involvement, governance and a strong connection to the IT unit.

  1. Vision

  2. Each department's CDO must be familiar with the organization's policy on the matter.

  3. CDOs should define their course of action according to organization policies and objectives for themselves as well as for the organization/department.

  4. Employee involvement in the change process is a perquisite for successful Digital leadership:

  5. Employees must understand the vision and the objectives of the transition of work methods. Moreover, they must believe in this change.

  6. The CDOs must make an effort to explain their methods and goals in order to clarify matters to everyone.

  7. The CDOs must be open to receiving new ideas/insights.

  8. Governance:

A CDO must define clear rules of governance, make decisions regarding projects that require digital tools, define the benefits of using a digital tool, prioritize tasks, be involved in decision making processes regarding investments in digital technologies, track progress in various projects and evaluate success.

  1. A good interface with IT:

Both CDO and IT unit should learn to converse in the other part's lingo. The CDO should become acquainted with the world of IT and the IT personnel should learn to speak in business terms in order to explain how these digital tools/technologies may enhance performance.


If you think your organization innovation should be promoted via a more extended use of advanced digital tools and are interested in leapfrogging in this particular field, we suggest the following steps:

  1. Review: does your organization have a clear organization digital vision to which one can connect via carious activities in the organization?

  2. Develop a work plan: define when, where and what range is it most advisable to start promoting digitalism and develop a work plan accordingly.

  3. Appoint CDOs: chart all organization employees who possess advanced digital/technological skills and the aforementioned perquisite virtues. Train the CDOs via a training program including practical experience.

  4. Together with the CDOs, map the daily challenges and seek to understand which digital tools are potentially beneficial, i.e. would assist company workers in performing their job more easily and quickly (consider three levels: individual workers, each department, the organization as whole).

  5. Establish a leaders' community by setting up a CDO network which enables shared learning of digital solutions as well as collaborations and promoting digital matters among workers and edge clients.

  6. Spread the word: Make an effort to ensure that workers are familiar with the new functionaries and their ability to assist and enhance their work processes when necessary (emails, tutorials, portals and all organizational means of communication).

  7. Evaluate success: review constantly in order to inspect whether the change is indeed incorporated and its effects. This can be done through real time feedback; surveys; debriefing; focus groups.

I wish you luck.

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