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New Survey Says Chief Digital Officer Has Pivotal Role


Mindtree, a global technology services and digital transformation company, published the results of a survey providing insights about the relevance and staying power of the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) position. Contrary to a widespread belief that the CDO position has a short shelf-life, an overwhelming majority of business and IT professionals participating in Mindtree’s survey see their organization’s CDO as an effective change agent and champion for achieving digital transformation and delivering a customer benefit.

The survey included data from 323 global business and IT professionals in the U.S. and U.K who work under a CDO. These professionals play a large role in executing on the vision of the CDO and have a valuable perspective about the effectiveness of the CDO as a leader. It was found that the CDO has been effective in championing many business-driving digital initiatives, such as giving customers the seamless digital experiences (27%) and creating new business models (20%).

According to Sreedhar Bhagavatheeswaran, SVP & Head of Digital Business, Mindtree, “Guest experience is the cornerstone of success in the hospitality industry, and having a robust digital strategy is of paramount importance to engage with guests in a contextual manner in order to deliver superior experience, drive loyalty and enhance lifetime value.”

Bhagavatheeswaran adds, “As guest expectations continue to increase with innovations in digital technologies, the Chief Digital Officer, who is entrenched at the confluence of business, technology, strategy and marketing, has emerged as a pivotal role in not only defining and implementing the digital transformation roadmap, but also in shaping the future of the enterprise.”

The CDO role has a clear purpose and is gaining in relevance

There is a widespread sense that the CDO is an ambiguous role, whose functions and responsibilities could be distributed among different members of the C-suite. Contrary to these claims, Mindtree’s survey found today’s business and IT professionals see a clear need for the continuance of the CDO position, with 74% of respondents stating that their organization’s CDO has clearly defined responsibilities and 81% agreeing that these responsibilities are differentiated enough that a dedicated CDO position is needed.

Further, business and IT professionals believe that the CDO role is becoming even more relevant compared to when it was first created (76%), demonstrating a clear mandate for the CDO to accomplish his or her digital objectives.

CDOs tend to have more technology expertise than business

Business and IT leaders named a deep understanding of technology (61%) and the ability to execute digital strategies (53%) as their CDO’s main skills. Almost 70% of respondents said their CDO comes from an IT background, suggesting that while many CDOs possess a good combination of technology understanding and “soft skills,” they may have less visibility into or are still acquiring an understanding of how parts of the business function. 84% of respondents in organizations whose CDO came from an IT background said their company had made “significant” digital progress since the CDO role was created, compared to 73% who come from organizations with a CDO having a non-IT, business background, answering the same.

Despite the progress, CDOs still face obstacles, including siloed initiatives and talent gap

About a third of respondents (32%) named change-resistant culture as the biggest obstacle CDO’s face in making greater progress. Relatedly, “changing the culture to iterate faster” is the lowest ranked accomplishment by CDOs. When asked what the CDO needs most in order to be successful with digitizing the business, 38% of respondents said it will require more collaboration across business units, combined with an infusion of new talent with skills aligned to in-demand technologies.

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