Formerly referred to as the CIO for Swiss manufacturer Schindler Group, Michael Nilles recently took on the title chief digital officer and CEO of Schindler Digital for the company instead.
Nilles believes as Schindler undergoes a digital transformation, the title of CDO makes more sense because it’s customer-focused and invested in growing the top line, he said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
"Ultimately you need a person who is managing the technology side, so something like the CIO. But I believe the best model is to have a CDO, and then the CIO should report to him," he told the Journal.
Business technology is in a permanent state of upgrade, and in turn CIOs need to keep up. Because of that, the role of CIO has changed in the enterprise, with more businesses tech chiefs leading through influence rather than control over technology. As a response to that some companies, like Schindler, are moving away from the CIO role altogether, instead focusing on leaders who can expand their digital transformation efforts.
Schindler Group is undergoing a digital transformation wherein it will offer Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and analytics services. Nilles says the traditional CIO role focuses more on internal services, while Schindler’s new focus will be on the external customer, so a CDO role is more appropriate.
The roles are very different, so doing both at the same time is not possible, according to Nilles. He also believes the two roles need to work together to enable success. "The CDO cannot be successful if he does not have a strong CIO organization that is running in the same direction," said Nilles. "If there is competition internally, then you have no chance."