The digital revolution and the rise of the CDO

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Many organisations are starting to see their investments in digital transformation pay off, a few years into the revolution. From reduced time to market, to improved customer experiences, increased productivity and empowered staff, the advantages are many and the opportunities wide.  

Large organisations are embracing digital transformation to help simplify products and processes, and to meet the rising expectations of customers for an intuitive digital experience. In turn, we’re seeing a shift in key roles within the business in order to implement their digital strategy.

The Chief Digital Officer (CDO) refers to any executive leadership role (which may also have “digitisation” in the title) charged with developing strategies and implementing solutions that help to meet the organisation’s digital objectives. CDOs may be responsible for digitising consumer-facing solutions, or for executing an internal strategy to optimise operations.

The CDO is a new role at most workplaces, but it has gained importance in just a few years. In 2015, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found 6 percent of the top 1,500 organisations employed a Chief Digital Officer. This year, Telstra’s and Ovum’s Global Market Insights Report found that more than half (58 percent) of multi-national organisations now employ a CDO, a staggering jump in such a short timeframe.

The CDO is an important connection between major company stakeholders as organisations collaborate on all facets of business objectives at the board level. Data-oriented, tech-savvy and focused on delivering brilliant digital customer experiences, the CDO has a holistic role within the organisation – from customer engagement to operations, and everything in between. The CDO role is complementary to the CIO role by being a strategic partner leading the delivery of technology.

Making a success of digitisation investments requires close collaboration with all other C-level executives, as the benefits and outcomes will be felt across the organisation. In fact, the 2018 Global Market Insights Report predicts that by 2020, the CDO will be the custodian of between 20 to 25 per cent of the total information and communications technology budget.

At Telstra, we realise that digitisation is not a choice – we must transform and challenge every aspect of how we work and how customers interact with us. We’re undergoing our own journey, investing over AU$1 billion in our digitisation program, which consists of three core elements: creating great digital experiences for our customers and our people, building modern digital platforms, and moving to digital ways of working.

Our goal is to offer a simple, digital experience that transfers seamlessly between self-service and in-person channels, backed by intuitive digital platforms that offer full access to our suite of services and billing information. For customers, it will mean a significantly improved experience, including simple digital applications, fewer errors, useful self-service tools and proactive fault resolution. For our frontline staff, digitisation will enable them to personalise service to each customer and offer them relevant products and services.

Like us, businesses around the world are realising the need for a holistic approach to digital transformation that helps accelerate innovation and business outcomes, while meeting other key performance indicators. At a time when many organisations face challenges in leveraging technology in a competitive environment, the role of the CDO to guide them in this journey is more important than ever.