As the world becomes a digitally connected place, the impact on business is huge. As businesses are not partly affected but as a whole, there needs to be a clear responsibility for the necessary transformatinonal efforts. This blog post outlines, why businesses are in need for a chief digital officer. In a following series of blog posts, I will explain his tasks and responsibilities and finally give and idea how to organize this role inside companies.
In the first blog post, I will focus on the need for such a role in the C-suite.
Understanding digital impact on business
About 200 years ago, people and busineses laughed about the first steam machines. But step by step it became clear that steam machines can do some work cheaper and more efficient. It was the dawn of a new era that transformed business as well as society – it was the begin of the industrial revolution. Today nobody will neglect this very clear observation.
Today, we can see many new steam machines. A global internet connecting people, information and hardware. Smartphones with insane technology. Mobile networks with data speed beyond land line connections. CPUs double their speed every two years. These are not one steam machine. Today, a dozen of transform-class technologies are on the way to shape our landscape of life and business. And all those technologies come simultaneously.
Those technologies already transform societies and markets and well – customers. 10 years ago customers had no chance to make enough pressure on business regarding product wishes – today customers can bypass businesses by crowdfunding their own idea and select for a business partner. Markets are being reshaped in no time – airbnb did not invent to rent a bed, but they reinvented the way how to rent a bed. Uber did not invent the taxi-service. They reshape how this business is done powered by digital technology.
Those technologies will grow into every part of our business life because there is a simple but true paradigm: “everything that can be digitized will be digitized“. And that is even true for the core of every company. Digitalization even affects your business model. Beyond that, with digital technologies it is even possible to create new business models. Not convinced yet? Then investigate on Amazon kindle, Apple itunes, Paypal and so on. Even the producing industry is not in a save place. Todays megatrend in the industry is called industry 4.0 which deals with connectivity between machines, workpieces and humans.
Beyond all business-model views, your workforce is currently being transformed, too. Just in that second. Or do you think that their usage of Whatsapp, Weibo, Wechat, Facebook and many other digital tools does not affect them? Sure, it does affect them very much. To make the picture complete, younger generations who now enter business seeking for a new sense in their work. Just giving them a target and say “go!” make them only leave your company.
So here is the summary of why your company needs a chief digital officer: Digitalization will come to your business model. And if not you do that, another company will do. So here is the big task: You have to transform your company to meet the needs of digitally enhanced or even purely digital business models. Therefore you need a strategy first. But don´t forget a very valid sentence from Mr. Drucker: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.
Building strategy, enhance the business model, develop the company culture – seems to be a CEO-job, doesn´t it? OK but there is a big challenge. As the transformation ahead is based on digital technology, you need to have a deep understanding of technology and the intersection with humans, culture and strategy. And this is not a part-time job. This is why I call the Chief Digital Officer into the C-suite.
In my next blog-post in this series, I will dive into the “what” of the Chief Digital Officer and give a frame to his responsibilities and tasks.