In the first part of this article we discussed the tasks of the CDOs and important success factors. Now follows the second part, which deals with possible alternatives to the CDO and the resulting conclusion.

Alternatives

Using CDOs is not always the best way to drive digital transformation. Even the CEO of a company can be a driver of digital transformation. The CEO is responsible for the company's success and already has the necessary power of decision and thus the ability to introduce changes. However, it is important for the CEO to have a basic understanding of technology and to be able to recognize new business models and opportunities resulting from digitization. Also it is to be considered that his previous duties as CEO will continue to exist, and that the pushing of digital transformations would be added to his daily tasks. The CEO must therefore balance his priorities and free up capacity to drive the digital transformation.

As an alternative, an Office can also be used as a staff unit, which reports directly to the CEO and forms a cross-divisional function within the company. Thus, the digital transformation is driven not only by one person, such as the CDO or CEO, but by a whole team. In doing so, the office must be composed of employees with a technological understanding and it needs the support of the CEO to gain the necessary assertiveness.

Another option may be a board of executives, e.g. to be a Digital Transformation Board. As with the CEO, there is already a high degree of decision-making power here. In addition, the business is directly involved because representatives from different disciplines and business fields are represented on the board. This creates transparency and a common understanding of the digital transformation in the company. The board should coordinate the digitization strategy as well as IT initiatives and projects.

It is important that the executives have the necessary technological understanding and that they understand the role and added value of IT. It is not about technical knowledge, but more about how IT and business can work together successfully to realize new opportunities. The cooperation between business and IT is essential when it comes to identifying and implementing new competitive potential and new business models. The business is therefore called upon to gain an understanding of information technology, digital solutions and potential, which speaks in favor of setting up a board anyway.

Conclusion

Using a CDO can be useful and can do a lot for a company. But it should first be examined whether the necessary conditions can be created so that the CDO can exploit his full potential. Instead of a CDO, further alternatives can be considered as drivers for the digital transformation. A CEO or Board may be a better choice if the necessary prerequisites for a CDO described above are not met. Consequently, there is no digital transformation driver that is the best choice in any business. Every company has to examine its own situation and make its choice based on it.

Author: Jenny Schwarz