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ICTjournal - The Chief Digital Officer Role is More Complicated than Expected

Egon Zehnder's recent study finds that the role of the Chief Digital Officer is different from initial expectations.

  • July 2019

The role played by the Chief Digital Officers does not correspond to their initial expectations, shows a recent study by Egon Zehnder, especially concerning the difficulties encountered to change the culture in favor of innovation. LCOs also want more support from other executives to carry out their mission.

The Chief Digital Officer (CDO) remains a misunderstood role, according to a recent study by Egon Zehnder. Based on the responses of 107 Chief Digital Officers of large companies in 20 countries, the survey focused on the difficulties they face. It appears that for nearly half of the CDOs, their role is significantly different from their initial expectations. A clear majority of 80% find it more difficult than expected to change the culture in favor of digital innovation, and more than two-thirds concede that they have struggled with the challenge of eliminating silos. In addition, almost half thought it would be easier to pilot their digital strategy and monetize or value the data.

"It's critical to understand how a company is open to change before turning to a digital transformation specialist. It is also essential to ensure that the CDO is supported in its attempts to eliminate the silos."

CDOs feel more supported by CEOs than CFOs

The interviewed CDOs emphasize the importance of having the explicit support of other executives, especially in terms of the allocated budget. Above all, they need to be able to count on the support of the CEO to be more successful in their role. Although many CDOs rarely meet other leaders, most think they have enough support. Nearly two-thirds of respondents believe that their CEO is aware of the issues related to the ongoing transformation in their industry, whereas less than half say the same about their CFO. In addition, only a third of respondents believe that the profit and loss managers in their organization are inclined to innovate.


Original Article (in French): Chief Digital Officer, un rôle souvent plus compliqué que prévu, ICTjournal. 17 July 2019. Yannick Chavanne.

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