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89% of firms say CDOs should lead digital strategy 

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17th Feb 2016
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New research from IDC states that 89% of global decision-makers see the future of their digital strategy being placed in the hands of a chief digital officer (CDO), yet only 28% currently have one.

The study also adds that 50% of C-level decision-makers predict it will take their companies more than five years to apply a digital transformation strategy, with 64% stating concern at the pace of change.

According to the study, business agility and the “ability to deliver a seamless customer experience” across channels are the first and third most critical capabilities needing to be addressed.

Providing an omnichannel experience across services also ranked as third in terms of digital transformation priorities within the next 12 months, together with improving customer experience (53% of respondents) and business agility (65%).

“The majority of service providers today are actively working to deploy digital technologies to improve their businesses, but this is happening without a unifying top-level vision and strategy,” says Andy Hicks, research director, telecoms and networking, EMEA at IDC.  

“They are also telling us they are struggling to re-align processes and re-train staff at the same time, further delaying real business outcomes.

“They may be able to keep up with other service providers, but they don't think they can keep up in the broader digital world unless they address gaps in digital strategy, skills and leadership. Our research suggests they will source professional services to bridge some of these gaps.”  

Transformation is seen as the fundamental reason for incorporating a CDO into the C-suite, yet the role still divides opinion.

As Aingaran Pillai, CTO and founder of Zaizi, explained on MyCustomer.com last year, too often the CDO role was focused on disruption as a vehicle for transformation, as opposed to a “sound and seamlessly connected infrastructure”:

“The world of the CDO is fast, agile and disruptive. It’s decentralised and democratic. It’s focused on transforming businesses through better use of information, engaging customers and boosting employees.

“With so much data now flowing through corporate systems, security is more important than ever. As digital technologies expose businesses to more and more national and international regulations, compliance is getting trickier.

“These are the areas in which CIOs and their teams have traditionally built their expertise and it is a mistake to suggest that these operational requirements are in some way less significant or less important than the digital services they support.

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