The role of the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) has come to the fore amidst the pandemic. The catastrophic impacts on organizations prompted companies to rethink, re-strategize, or abandon business models. As organizations rushed to take stock of the situation, one decision stood out as an impending future-proof strategy — the need for digital transformation.
Digital strategy is now taking center stage at C-suite level discussions and has a confirmed role in mapping out the company’s future footprints. However, the existing C-suite isn’t proficient in handling the magnitude of digital transformation. To drive growth, companies without CDOs will have to consider creating the chief digital officer role. Those with CDOs will have to increase their reliance on them.
Here are four ways C-suite-level decisions can benefit from chief digital officers in the post-pandemic world.
1. Enterprise-wide Digital Transformation
In the pre-pandemic world, digital was seen as a complementary addition to business. But now, companies have realized that digital transformation is necessary for the future of work and business. It isn’t about implementing siloed digital initiatives but about digitalizing all aspects of the business — from operating models and delivery channels to work culture and customer experience.
For fast-food giant KFC, digital became one of its biggest bets during the pandemic. The result was that KFC saw multiple years of progress in under nine months and sales grew by billions.
Constant technological innovations require attention and prioritization. Taking rapid digital advances into account — especially due to the pandemic — businesses need to appoint a dedicated CDO to oversee operations. The task will involve revamping legacy systems, introducing agile processes, onboarding new technology, and, most importantly, persuading employees toward adaptation.
2. Accelerated Digital Technology Adoption
A report by cloud communications company Twilio found that 97 percent of enterprise decision-makers believe that the pandemic accelerated their company’s digital transformation. The result is that companies will have to step up digital initiatives to address business challenges.
According to Gartner’s 2021 board of directors survey, 78 percent of respondents trust analytics to be the top game-changing technology due to the COVID-19 crisis. This will necessitate a chief digital officer who is well-versed with digital technology such as big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics, etc.
For a chief digital officer, this will be a two-pronged approach, given the age of social distancing:
- How can digital technology improve communications and business with customers, clients, and partners?
- How can digital initiatives enhance humane values and improve work-life balance while working remotely?
Chief digital officers with tech and digital skills will now be valuable assets. Senior digital strategists aiming to step into leadership roles should consider upskilling themselves for evolving business needs.
3. Informed Business Decisions
Business performance will witness multilevel growth in the post-pandemic world when digital strategy aligns with business goals. For this to happen, C-suite executives must work closely with the chief digital officer.
While crafting the future road map, a chief digital officer can provide valuable insights on market trends, beneficial digital technologies, changing customer patterns and behaviors, and business model opportunities. They will be critical in identifying ways to capture value from the digital sector and increase the company’s bottom line.
As we stare at a fully digital future economy, CDOs will have to work closely with C-suite executives for efficient navigation. This will involve understanding the complexities faced by the Chief Financial Officer or the Chief Human Resources Officer and deriving digital solutions for them. Most notably, it consists of aligning digital sector innovations with the CEO’s vision.
Without creating this core leadership role and nudging them in the right direction, companies will not be able to make futuristic decisions.
4. Seamless Customer Journey
It wasn’t until the pandemic gained momentum that companies woke up to prioritizing the customer’s digital experience. Businesses operating offline before the pandemic had to improvise as countries went into lockdown and social contact reduced. However, the reduction in their in-person presence was supplemented by their online activities.
Short attention spans and multiple stakeholders vying for customer eyeballs need to be addressed. The customer’s digital experience must now be more enjoyable, usable, and seamless. Moving forward, businesses cannot afford to ignore digital initiatives.
For instance, Swedish brand IKEA, known for its unique store-based experience, pivoted to an online model to retain customers. It embedded AI and ML to understand customer needs and set up innovative customer service solutions using mixed reality.
The chief digital officer’s skills will be key to address customers’ pain points and identify inconsistencies in the customer’s digital journey. Eventually, this will enable IKEA to derive better insights from customer data.
The pandemic jolted businesses out of their complacency and pressed upon the urgency to drive digital transformation. As a result, senior executives driving digital strategy or aspiring to lead digital transformation in their organizations as future CDOs should consider upskilling themselves with relevant programs such as the Berkeley Chief Digital Officer Program. By combining program learnings with real-world case studies, CDOs will be better positioned to tackle the post-pandemic new normal and deliver tangible business value.
At Berkeley Executive Education, we wish to support your participation in this transformative program. We offer payment options that will make this immersive learning experience possible for you:
- Employer Sponsorship: To help outline the program benefits for you and the return on investment for your organization, you can use this template to draft an email to your employer.
- Individual Referrals: You will receive five percent off the program fee when you refer a friend or colleague. Each of you will be eligible for tuition assistance of US$1,400.
- Group Enrollment: Enrolling with your team members fosters collective understanding and the ability to apply lessons learned as a group more impactfully. When you enroll as a group, you receive a discount, which varies depending on the size of your group.
For more details, please contact your learning advisor.
Explore how the Berkeley Chief Digital Officer Program can propel your career forward.