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CDO Roadmap: Craft Strategy, Avoid New-Tool Tsunami

2014: The year of digital? That wouldn't be accurate since we are well into the era of digital.

But it's here — and today we share insight from one of digital's biggest fans, David Mathison, the curator for the Chief Digital Officer Summit. As we embark on the next 365, we asked Mathison to explain the role of a chief digital officer (CDO) and some focus areas for 2014.

Questions and Answers

David Mathison.jpg

Q. If you're a chief digital officer, what's primary on your 2014 to-do list in January — and why? 

A. To start the New Year off right, the most important thing a new CDO can do is to craft and deliver the digital strategy. This should be a cross-departmental blueprint with input from all key stakeholders. It must include achievable and realistic goals; identification of the tools, resources, capital and team necessary to achieve those goals; a clear definition of roles and responsibilities; and key performance indicators (KPIs) for measuring your team's performance against the goals. Once this is complete, the strategy should be clearly communicated to all involved.

If you are a CDO who already has a  digital strategy, January is a good time to measure your results against last year's goals, and then refine and optimize the strategy and metrics — and possibly even create a new strategy entirely.

For example, in 2011, (former) New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced NYC's first Digital Roadmap. By 2013, thanks to the help of (former) NYC Chief Digital Officer Rachel Haot (now New York State's Deputy Secretary for Technology), 100 percent of the objectives in the Roadmap were complete. So it seems NYC needs a new Digital Roadmap for 2014.

Q. What's one thing a CDO must achieve by the end of 2014?

A. Internally, they need to align the digital strategy with the organizational strategy and continue to get everyone to start thinking digitally. Externally, they need to work with the CIO and CMO to create an outstanding, unified digital customer experience across all channels. 

Q. Looking back at 2013, what are the significant accomplishments — and why — for CDOs?

A. The biggest achievement for the CDO space in general is that it's now widely accepted that someone, CDO or not, needs to be responsible and accountable for the over-arching digital strategy. The most significant accomplishment for CDOs in 2013 is that a number of CDOs became CEOs and board members: a clear indication of the strategic importance of this role.

Q. Who in the organization will be the CDO's best friend in 2014 — and why?

A. The CDO, CMO and the CIO should be called the "Three Amigos." And if that's their user name, the password is "collaboration." The CMO is responsible for the brand, internally and externally. CMOs craft and own the customer experience, from end-to-end, and are also responsible for omnichannel outreach, which includes the new social, mobile and traditional media channels.

The CIO is responsible for the infrastructure, upon which a whole range of new services and apps can be delivered. Digital transformation is not an individual effort — it takes a team and close working relationships. Senior management needs to create incentives that will encourage more collaboration.

Q. Tell us one mistake a CDO should absolutely avoid in 2014.

A. Avoid shiny new toys and other distractions that have no material impact on your digital strategy and its goals. CDOs face a tsunami of new tools, apps, platforms and channels, and there is only a limited amount of time in the day to investigate and evaluate them all. Let the early adopters beta test them for you. You have more important things to do.

Q. Give an organization without a CDO one reason to adopt one in 2014.

A. Digital disruption has now hit every sector. There is nowhere to hide. No organization or business is safe. If your traditional competitors have hired a CDO (or equivalent) to centralize the digital strategy, you are already at a disadvantage.

And even worse, if your field has low barriers to entry and is affected by "disruptors," your entire company is at risk. These companies started out as digital natives and are not encumbered by crusty legacy systems, siloed thinking, turf wars, fiefdoms and kingdoms, corporate politics, established cultures and lengthy, unnecessary processes. To remain competitive, and more importantly, to survive, it is now critical to appoint a qualified leader responsible for the overall digital transformation strategy.

 
 
 
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