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More chief digital officers in largest companies

Strategy& report shows rise in number of organisations with chief digital officers

More chief digital officers in largest companies
19% of the largest global companies now have a senior executive in charge of digital transformation.

The number of large enterprises are appointing Chief Digital Officers (CDOs) has increased significantly in the past year, according to Strategy&.

The consulting firm says that its 2016 study of the 2,500 largest public companies in the world showed that 19% of companies have a designated executive for digital transformation, up from 6% in 2015.

The growth of CDOs - defined in this case as any executive tasked with putting into practice the digital ambition of his or her company or business unit - is due to an increased focus on digital leadership and more advanced digital competence, according to Strategy&.

In terms of verticals, consumer-facing industries such as communications, media, and entertainment; food and beverages; and transportation and travel are leaders in digital transformation, although in 2016 insurance and banking are taking the lead in appointing CDOs, with 35% of companies in the insurance sector and 27% in banking saying they have CDOs.

The CDO is typically a member of the c-suite, around 40%, although in some organisations the CDO is director level (17%) or VP (19%).

Typical skillsets for CDOs vary according to the strategy of the company, but normally they include both technical and vertical domain expertise and the ability to manage large-scale change. CDOs also need the ability to unify digital transformation efforts across the company.

Report authors Pierre Péladeau Mathias Herzog and Olaf Acker wrote: "When hiring a digital leader, companies must consider not just the individual's background and expertise, but also his or her position within the organisation and the governance mechanisms from which he or she will derive the responsibility and authority needed to carry out the mission. Of course, such considerations come into play whenever a large company hires any top executive. The role of the CDO, however, is a relatively new one, and many companies are still trying to figure out what works."

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