Expect to see more chief digital officers and professionals, survey says

Number of chief digital and chief data officers keep doubling every year as organizations seek leadership to embrace tech-driven opportunities.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

The ultimate fusion between tech know-how and entrepreneurial passion is found in the emerging "digital" professional.

Data published by the Chief Digital Officer Club shows that the number of chief digital officers worldwide (or, almost interchangeably, chief data officers) continues to double from year to year, growing from about 500 to 1,000 CDOs by the end of 2014. 

While the number of CDOs is still miniscule compared to the tens of thousands of CIOs in the world, such growth validates the continuing push by many forward-thinking organizations to digitize their operations and customer relationships. (CDO Club also cites a Gartner estimate that foresees 1,500 CDOs by years' end.)

So who are these CDOs? They tend to be those who have already risen through the corporate ranks, and are ready and willing to move tech visions to the next level: In the words of the CDO Club post: "Overall, CDOs are well-seasoned, veteran, professional leaders and business builders with digital DNA who have P&L responsibility and backgrounds in general management, corporate and business development, entrepreneurial disruption, and the ability to get buy-in from multiple stakeholders across company silos."

The CDO Club survey also finds that media/publishing and financial services organizations have the highest-paid CDOs, with salaries ranging between the mid to high six figures and low seven figures.  Other sectors are embracing CDOs as well — Sephora, L’Oreal, Benetton, Pizza Hut (YUM Brands), and McDonalds "have all hired Chief Digital Officers in the last year," the report notes.

There are many variations and reports to the CDO position, as seen in the CDO Club's job board:

  • Senior director, digital product solutions: (Healthcare): "Directs the development of company internet marketing programs. Manages the research, analysis, and monitoring of financial, technological & demographic factors, and designs marketing plans to capitalize on market opportunities. Directs overall web strategy relating to usability, functions/features & customer interface from a marketing perspective."
  • Director Release Management (Cross Experience) Consumer Digital Technology: (Sportswear manufacturer): Will "play a key role on the team that enables the digital team to bring its world-class products and applications to market. Will work across digital experience teams to understand key business drivers and enable the delivery of successful releases for digital technology.  Will be responsible for enforcing release framework and governance."
  • Data Scientist Leader Predictive Modeling (Digital Marketing Analytics): (Software/SaaS provider): "As a member of the analytics team, responsible for managing and executing data sciences vision across multi-disciplinary teams. Will own the full predictive modeling life cycle: data collection, data standardization, variable transformation, model construction, validation, operational implementation, decay tracking, and presentation of the final results."
  • Sr. Engineer Search (Digital Engineer) (Retail): "Software developer with an entrepreneurial streak to build great products - ready to do whatever it takes to build scalable guest focused, world class eCommerce applications."
  • Manager - Digital User Experience (Retail):"Responsible for helping to guide the strategic evolution of corporate websites. Will have a strong background in e-Commerce, mobile, social and digital. Perform competitive analyses, identify business opportunities, develop ROI cases, champion projects through the approval process, write functional specs, develop wireframes and manage user testing."
  • Java Engineer (Digital Engineer) (Retailer): "Engineering professional who can connect the in-store experience to the digital environment by creating scalable and seamless multi-channel experiences. Work with experts in the eCommerce, multichannel retail, product management and software engineering fields."

(Thumbnail photo: USDA.)

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