Correction: In a previous version of this article, CDO was misidentified as chief data officer.
- A new PwC report found only 6% of the 1,500 largest global companies have hired a chief digital officer. But, 31 of the 86 total CDOs were hired last year, suggesting a growing interest in the role.
- By 2020, IDC predicts 60% of CDOs in global organizations will replace CIOs for the delivery of IT-enabled products and digital services.
- But, PwC thinks the CDO role will ultimately fade as companies complete their digital transformations.
Unlike CIOs, who are sometimes viewed primarily as managers of back-office technology, CDOs are charged with leading a company’s digital transformation, including everything from delivering mobile applications to consumers to empowering workers with emerging technologies.
At times, hiring a CDO can upset a company’s CIO.
"People get all bent out of shape whether the CIOs own this [digital] stuff or not," PwC CTO Chris Curran said in a CIO report. "There is a lot of work, particularly in consumer-facing businesses, and I don't have any problem splitting the load."
Though their role may ultimately fade, CEOs often seek CDOs to jumpstart innovation and avoid losing market share, according to Curran.
"You need to either mix things up with a new leader to accelerate the transformation, or you need to be real aggressive in terms of getting everybody on the same page," Curran said. "The CDO model is a way to catalyst change and get the organization fired up."