Italy has a community of Chief digital officers. This news is not irrelevant. Not even a month ago, when I first posted about CDOs, I thought I had spotted a futuristictopic. But this trend is far more widespread than I had thought.
In Italy there are still few CDOs who are effectively working as such, while there are several candidates and many who are‘unaware’. All of them (us) together form a community: embryonic, still searching for a precise identity, interested inunderstanding the developments of the association between digital and company rather than the professional role. My remarks are based on the comments that were posted on the blog and on discussions I had over this last month.
Hoping to provide you information that will be useful, I’ll list a few points that rose from these conversations. They are randomremarks containing reflections, questions, simple statements made by different people. Pieces of a puzzle that are being put together and that can broaden the discussion.
- Digital cross-cuts all corporate areas. From customer care to procurement activities, from information to marketingand knowledge management, which is common throughout the whole company. A CDO must innovate the existing setting,creating systems, sharing and awareness.
- A CDO’s scope regards the company’s external and the internal sphere because since punched cards were created till now, digital has entered traditional processes revolutionising them, but not always improving them (floods of emails, redundantprogrammes and platforms that don’t dialogue, multiplication of information and communication flows…);
- Where’s the right balance? It’s important to make people aware of the value of digital activity both inside the company(corporate empowerment) and outside of it. The final yardstick is still determined by the revenues for which marketing and sales are two essential fronts. It’s not easy to make people aware of the extent to which digital activities contribute to the entire production chain.
- CDOs must deal with the cultural gap that prevents digital from becoming a unifying and cross-cutting factor within the company. It is decisive to involve the top management, including the CEO.
- A continuous technological training is needed. Is it sufficient?
This summarising collection of ideas is not meant to be a handbook of CODs like that published by Chiefdigitalofficer.net. Maybe in Italy’s current situation it’s still early to achieve a real definition that is not only formal. In fact, the United States teach us that, among the CMO, the CIO and the CEO, the CDO is a somewhat self made chief.