The Rising Significance of CDOs in a Digital Era

June 19, 20178:20 am742 views

With Asia Pacific expected to see strong investments in digital transformation technologies in 2017, business leaders are increasingly cognizant about the importance of chief digital officers (CDOs) as guiding hands, seamlessly vacillating between IT and operations.

According to IDC, one-quarter of C-level executives in the top 1000 companies in APAC will have at least three years of experience in technology leadership roles by 2020. This clearly highlights the growing significance of digital technology and how the role of CDOs is expected to grow further in the near future.

Digital innovation is quickly becoming the cornerstone of business strategy and CDOs will be cast as the agents of change. They will play a key role in the transformation of digital enterprises and the future success of business. From monitoring the emergence of new IT technologies to choosing the right technology to enhance digital capabilities within organizations while meeting business goals, CDOs will need to display a multifaceted approach to business.

CDOs hold the key to future growth

The threat of becoming merely a hardware or solution provider for leading digital players remains persistent among every traditional business across industries, and is the reason for most businesses in Asia to look at digital disruptors with apprehension.

When digital challengers attack a market segment, they drive a wedge between the existing businesses in the market and their customers and provide a completely new way of customer interaction based on digital technology. Uber does it with taxi services. Airbnb does it with accommodation rentals. In Singapore, we are observing disruptors emerging in the financial services and banking space.

The job of a CDO is to seek opportunities in this whirlpool of disruptions. For CDOs, digital disruption should be embraced. The source of growth for enterprises over the next decade would stem from CDO’s capacity and willingness to embrace disruptive digital technologies to drive new sources of customer value and enhance customer experiences.

Software platform-only based business models imbue agility and flexibility into processes, often resulting in exponential growth in a world dominated by digitalization. Digital disruption is just digital innovation in action. It makes the inefficient efficient. To survive and remain relevant in this era, CDOs need to be proactive in developing their enterprises’ in-house IT infrastructure and software development capabilities.

See: Role of HR in Streamlining Effective Communication in a Digitally Disrupted Era

They have to move the focus away from outsourcing competitive advantages and support key decision makers to create a new path. In addition, CDOs would need to invest in emerging digital trends and identify new opportunities in the rapidly evolving innovation landscape and strengthen their IT ecosystem at macro and enterprise level to create big impact on business growth.

In a nutshell, if software is the pivot between the digital and physical world, the CDO is the pivot between IT and business.

Where corporate meets digital

Change starts at the top of every organisation and innovation through software is currently the best approach.  A CDO must focus on bolstering enterprise innovation capabilities through agile in-house data analysis, software development and software architecture know-how within the enterprise.

Businesses would find it increasingly challenging to survive in the digital age, if they exhibit over reliance on pre-packaged business logic and models provided by Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and other relatively static applications. Every business is becoming a software business today and hence it is imperative that every enterprise utilises software to sharpen its own competitive edge.

The modern-day business strategy requires in-depth knowledge of threats, challenges and possibilities presented by digitalisation and the IT technologies. The ability to identify the most impactful technologies for business is crucial, thus requiring professionals to possess both strong technology and business acumen.

The CDOs are the ideal amalgamation of technology and business acumen, especially in a constantly evolving business landscape such as Asia Pacific. CDOs have a significant role to play in the enterprises’ success and future growth.

To conclude, in this new era digital strategy has to become part of an organization’s corporate strategy in order for them to remain relevant in the current business environment, and the role of CDOs is gaining significance.

Author credit: 
Mike Saxton 1

Mike Saxton, Senior Vice President, Software AG Asia Pacific & Japan

Feature image credit: shortways.com

Also read: The Digital Imperative: 6 IT Trends to Watch Out for in 2017

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