If You're Hiring A 'Head Of Digital Innovation' You're Doing It Wrong

from the sorry-bloomberg dept

Way back in 2006, we wrote about how silly it was that all of these old school media companies were suddenly hiring "chief digital officers" or "chief internet officers" -- and how that was a sign that they were in trouble. That's because "digital" or "internet" is not a separate silo. Companies that are going to succeed today on the internet need to get to the point where the internet simply infuses everything they do -- such that they don't even need to be thinking about it as a "separate thing." It's just part of what they do. Many of the companies who went down that route discovered that pretty quickly. Those top "digital" people often had no real power or no real authority, and with the companies hiring them, it made others believe that they didn't need to be thinking about the internet, because "someone else has got it covered."

I'm kind of surprised that any company is still thinking that way, but apparently Bloomberg has just hired a former GE exec to be its "head of global digital innovation." Bloomberg has been, somewhat notoriously, going through some turmoil lately in its news division, and setting up a separate silo to focus on "digital" seems like the exact wrong strategy, yet again. The company either is digital or it's not... and having to hire someone to focus on digital innovation suggests... it's not.

Reader Comments (rss)

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2014 @ 12:05am

    How fitting

    If a company is digital or not is binary.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jay (profile), Jan 7th, 2014 @ 12:34am

    When questioned about this hiring decision, Bloomberg's spokesperson had this to say: "Well, we realized that we had to catch up with the times, and be hip to the groovy Internets the young kids are doing these days, so we cast out a world wide web to find someone good with numbers who could explain this "digit-all" stuff to us. With his help, we should be able to computer all this stuff out." At which point Bloomberg's spokesperson winked to convey his clever puns, then was confused when the interviewer performed the rarely seen Double Facepalm Maneuver.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2014 @ 1:30am

    This 'digital innovation' thingy is something that companies should have been doing two decades ago when the world wide web was brand new. But then let's not forget that it's taken the record industry an astounding 20 years to finally restructure its business model into what it should have been long ago (including getting rid of layers of do-nothing fat-cat management).

    But for many of those otherwise-smart people who at first thought the internet would be just another passing fad, and then stubbornly fought the 'digital revolution' tooth and nail ... well, the future finally caught up to them -- like neck-deep quicksand.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ECA (profile), Jan 7th, 2014 @ 1:38am


      you are almost right..
      make it 40 year and you should be about right..

      The problem here is:
      Watches?? been there done that..TO DEATH..
      To many people are using a SUDO -dictionary..and making their OWN meanings, and NOT konwing what they are even SAYING..

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2014 @ 3:08am

        Re: Re: SUDO-dictionary, etc.

        OK, let's make it 40, then!

        Well, 40 years ago there were so-called "digital" clocks that worked by dropping metal plates with numbers painted on them off a rotating spool (presumably it would no longer be "digital" if clock faces had been painted on each of those plates instead of numbers)

        The 100+ year old IBM punch card (base-92?) could probably also be classified as a form of "digital" media, at least in a strict technical sense, but to most of us, the term "digital" generally refers to any content that can be instantly transmitted across the globe an infinite number of times without any degradation.

        I couldn't find any such "SUDO" dictionary - or even the word "SUDO" in any dictionary - but hey, how about a SUMO dictionary?


        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          MonkeyFracasJr (profile), Jan 7th, 2014 @ 6:11am

          Re: Re: Re: SUDO-dictionary, etc.

          From Google:
          adjective: pseudo

          not genuine; sham.
          "we are talking about real journalists and not the pseudo kind"
          synonyms: bogus, sham, phony, artificial, mock, ersatz, quasi-, fake, false, spurious, deceptive, misleading, assumed, contrived, affected, insincere; More
          informalpretend, put-on
          "her 'diamonds' are so pseudo"
          antonyms: genuine

          late Middle English: independent use of pseudo-.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          ottermaton (profile), Jan 7th, 2014 @ 6:32am

          Re: Re: Re: SUDO-dictionary, etc.

          Obligatory xkcd

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2014 @ 6:18am

        Re: Re:

        Sudo dictionary? So they call dictionary with root privileges?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2014 @ 3:05am

    Maybe some more Chinese government ass-kissing will help grow their business. Did they hire a Head of Ass Kissing for the Chinese government, too?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/09/world/asia/bloomberg-news-is-said-to-curb-articles-that-might- anger-china.html

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2014 @ 3:27am

    Some people are just lucky, I wish I could land a multimillion made up job.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), Jan 7th, 2014 @ 4:37am

    Truth be said ever since Mr Jobs died it seems Apple lost its head of global digital innovation... Sometimes that person does exist I guess.

    Still, it's amusing to see the companies hiring some pretty brilliant minds nowadays to change stuff. And when they arrive in their workplaces they are told to do exactly as the company has been doing wrong and end up arguing with the company management when they try to introduce effective change.

    Of course one must also question if the person accepting such titles aren't just in for the money..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    madasahatter (profile), Jan 7th, 2014 @ 8:10am


    Since most online activities mirror offline activities these companies do not need a "Chief Internet Officer". They need to look at what they do and some how mirror the important customer and vendor facing activities on to the Internet. Yes, there will be team of programmers/designers needed to put the website up and maintain it.

    There are three basic activities a site could fulfill: point of contact for customers, point of "sale" for customers, and point of contact for vendors. The importance of each varies, so there is no one solution but what a company does offline should be an excellent guide to what they need to online.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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