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What is a chief digital officer?

October 18, 2018

What is a chief digital officer?

This post is also available in: Spanish

Chief digital officer: the profile the companies are looking for

Do you know what a chief digital officer is? It’s not a job we invented!

Although in many companies it does not yet exist, the chief digital officer, also known as CDO, can become a very relevant figure within the organization chart of certain companies or organizations.

In this article we are going to find out the tasks of a CDO, this professional profile quite valued by companies.

What are the tasks of a Chief Digital Officer?

Okay, it’s not too hard to figure out, is it? The CDO, in effect, is the ultimate responsible for achieving the digital transformation in a company.

If you are familiar with the concept of digital transformation, it will not be difficult for you to imagine what their work consists of. But if you’re not, it may sound like a modern concept and empty of meaning. However, it is not, it is a very real notion and can reach an enormous relevance for a company or organization.

The main task of the Chief Digital Officer will be to get the company to take advantage of digital technologies for improvement, in a broad sense. This includes improving its performance, customer service, productivity, economic performance, etc.

Of course, and given these possibilities offered by digital technologies, there will be many ways to carry out this transformation. From the opening of new commercial or communication channels with customers to the use of all kinds of technological tools, the CDO will have to implement a large number of major changes, which, in turn, will imply a great responsibility.

However, since the position of the Chief Digital Officer is a high level position, the demands to carry it out effectively will also be high.

Since the CDO must combine a good degree of technical knowledge and a deep understanding of the business, let’s take a look at some of the characteristics and competencies that companies usually look for in this position.

The profile of the Chief Digital Officer

When looking for a Chief Digital Officer, companies are often very clear that it is a position of high responsibility and that they must demand a series of qualities that are not easy to comply with. If we take a look at the job offers, we can extract some of the most frequent requirements:

– High strategic skills

A Chief Digital Officer must be a good strategist. It is responsible for a process of change, which implies having a clear idea of where the company is located, what are the objectives to be achieved and what are the concrete steps to be taken to achieve those objectives.

A good capacity to identify needs, to plan change processes and to know the specific measures to be taken will therefore be some of the characteristics to carry out your work effectively.

– Great leadership capacity

A Chief Digital Officer is also a leader. Therefore, she/he must be able to get those he/she has to lead to follow him/her, convinced of the benefits of the common project. In addition, bearing in mind that the work will involve carrying out changes, sometimes very profound, you must have very specific attributes that allow you to carry them out without causing ruptures in the company.

– Empathy

A CDO is in charge of transforming the company; a Chief Digital Officer shouldn’t break the company into a thousand pieces, or throwing some people’s work off the cliff.

And most of the companies have many years of experience when a CDO comes in to be part of them. And that means that there is a way of working, some habits, some people who enjoy a great experience and an enormous personal and professional value, and who have been doing a great job for years, even though, sometimes, they are not familiar with the latest technologies.

The CDO must be able to implement and integrate the technology into the enterprise in a way that is not excessively traumatic for the people who are part of it. And to achieve this he/she must be able to put himself/herself in someone else’s shoes, understand their needs and make the transition a pleasant experience and not a trauma, which could lead to conflict.

And not only that. In addition, the CDO will be in continuous contact with other management positions within the company, such as the CEO, the CTO or the CIO, so it must also be able to work with them effectively.

– Technological knowledge

It’s quite obvious. The CDO should have a great knowledge of existing technologies and all those that arise and can serve the company. And in addition to knowing them, of course, he/she will need to know how to implement them and take advantage of them.

– Business knowledge

It is the other side of the coin, in terms of technical skills. The CDO will only be able to understand how technology can help the business if he/she knows the business in depth. This will include all kinds of subjects, such as economic issues, knowledge of the market, customer needs, etc.

– Experience

It is true that it will not be easy to find people with great experience in this field, due to the relative novelty of the position, but the high level of its attributions will make the experience as a CDO something that is highly valued by companies.

– Several languages

Considering that the CDO is a position that is usually present in companies with international activity, the command of several languages will also be taken into account by companies. Of course English, as the international language of business, but also other languages such as French, German, Chinese or Japanese will be greatly appreciated.

These are some of the qualities and competencies that companies and organizations look for in a Chief Digital Officer. What do you think?

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