If Your Company Has A Chief Digital Officer, You're Doing It Wrong

from the this-is-a-mistake dept

Nearly five years ago, we warned that media companies were making a big mistake in hiring "Chief Digital Officers." The problem is that, these days, especially in the media world, thinking digitally isn't a separate silo or a separate job function. It needs to be the thinking throughout the organization. Just setting up a position of "Chief Digital Officer" is all about shunting digital thinking off into a silo. Even for companies who claim that the Chief Digital Officer's role is to get everyone thinking digitally, it doesn't really work. The chains of commands are not structured correctly. You're asking "everyone" to pay attention to someone who they don't really report to.

For a little while, it had seemed like media companies had moved away from such positions -- and I had hoped it was a sign that they had realized what a mistake it was. Instead, it seems like the concept was merely lying dormant. AdAge reports that the role of the Chief Digital Officer is making a comeback within media companies. Thankfully, the AdAge article at least suggests that the new rush to hire such positions often indicates that a company "is behind." Of course, what it doesn't really acknowledge is that hiring a "Chief Digital Officer" probably isn't going to solve the problem. It's more of a sign that the business isn't really thinking digitally at all.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 10:52pm

    They should fallow the lead of people that accidentally discovered success.

    http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-11-music-insider-shatters-digital.html

    As a result, TuneCore has positioned itself directly in the mainstream of one of the music industry's few growth curves: digital distribution.

     

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    dobi, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 10:53pm

    That's like saying a CIO isn't of value to the organization. Everyone doesn't report to the CIO, but the CIO suggests and recommends what direction the organization should take with regards to their information technology.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 11:25pm

      Re:

      That's like saying a CIO isn't of value to the organization. Everyone doesn't report to the CIO, but the CIO suggests and recommends what direction the organization should take with regards to their information technology.

      I disagree. A CIO has a specific job function in terms of managing the informational infrastructure for the company.

      But a Chief Digital Officer is about an overall *externally focused* digital strategy. It's not something that can be silo'd.

       

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      PaulT (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 11:34pm

      Re:

      Nope.

      CIO = person in charge of information infrastructure INSIDE the company. It's their job to ensure that digital information flows between employees, regardless of their business model. Their job exists because the IT infrastructure and other parts of the company (marketing, sales, CS, accounting, etc.) are naturally different functions, although they may have some direct relationship to IT.

      Chief Digital Officer = person in charge of digital information OUTSIDE of the company. The fact that their job even exists suggests that the company does not recognise that, in the modern marketplace, there is no natural separation of digital information and other parts of the company. It also suggests that within the company, sales of digital items is regarded as a separate function and perhaps lower priority than physical items - practical suicide for a media company.

       

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    Monica, May 14th, 2012 @ 9:15pm

    Hmm... This man seems to be making progress with this company though...
    This company did go down under a bit, but they've been making a comeback.

    http://www.fastcompany.com/most-creative-people/2012/adam-brotman

     

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    sprearson81 (profile), Jun 10th, 2012 @ 9:02am

    Yeah, quite a comeback

     

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    chris, Aug 1st, 2012 @ 7:00am

    how about now?

    So, almost 2 years later do you feel the same? Funny how times change.

     

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