Go digital in 2018: get rid of your CDO
I have never been a fan of the Chief Digital Officers and it seems to me that fortunately the subject is out of fashion. Some observations:
• I don’t get the impression that companies that did not have CDOs made more or less progress on average than those that did.
• Far too many CDOs had a marketing and customer relationship vision above all. We have talked a lot about it but after a few years it is clear that the intern has rarely followed and the facade is cracking. I recently saw a company that everyone was convinced they had masterfully passed the course looking for a director of transformation because ultimately that is the subject.
There has never been an electricity boss so why a digital boss?
• Exactly those who succeeded may have had a CDO title but were more Chief Transformation Officers. Well, you might as well give them their real title.
In general, if we consider that digital is a bit like electricity, I have never heard of a company having appointed an electricity director. On the other hand, there are directors of things we do with electricity. And there we are therefore more in the vertical and in the profession.
And then a lot of CDOs had said it themselves: their goal was to make their function useless. So after a few years they either succeeded, or they failed, or they were useless, but the consequence is the same: we no longer need them.
No more digital “above ground”
Whether you are advanced or new to your digital transformation, more than a CDO, you need people capable of applying digital to business and transforming it. It is concrete, pragmatic, efficient and meaningful. If you need to coordinate initiatives and resources, appoint a transformation manager instead.
But please stop above-ground digital departments or directorates that hover above the professions without knowing them in depth and are not legitimate in relation to them.
Bertrand Duperrin is Digital Transformation Practice Leader in Emakina. He was previously Consulting Director at Nextmodernity, a firm in the field of business transformation and management through social business and the use of social technologies.