How digital transformation and innovation led to the ascent of the CDO


Between 2013 and 2014, the number of Chief Digital Officers (CDOs) doubled. And it happened again between 2014 and 2015. Let’s take a look why.

Transformation and innovation are two words for change that are often overused and yet seldom fully understood. Both terms present opportunity. However, there is a difference.

Businesses seek transformation often as a result of, or to react to, a realisation. This may be a realisation of cost, that other organisations are working better than you, that you are not serving your customers as they might expect, or the realisation that you are no longer able to compete.

The differences between innovation and transformation

Both transformation and innovation are difficult. And let’s be honest, it is hard for people to move away from a comfortable operating model.

Organisations that seek innovation are looking to lead and proactively evolve. These businesses want to be first; they want to introduce new ideas or products to the marketplace. Again, this can be difficult, as your organization needs to stay in front of trends that are constantly changing.

Businesses that are looking to transform want to take that innovation and use it to change. Transformation is also challenging as goal posts seem to ever-inch further away and new technology constantly shifts our expectations of what transformation actually means.

At the same time, we know only what we know, so to simply say we want to innovate or transform is not enough. It has to start somewhere, or with someone.

New technology, competitive products and consumer habits have forced change on the world. It’s not that businesses need to start thinking about transformation and innovation. The simple fact is that if you are not, you are unlikely to keep pace with those who are.

Enable innovation and transformation with the right technology

Many CDOs have steered their organisations to use Enterprise Content Management (ECM) technology, but few truly embrace it to achieve transformation or use it as a platform to drive innovation. This is, in part, due to the fact that many businesses have not yet realised that these software platforms can also act as enablers for change.

Or, they’re simply using a legacy document management system solely as a way to reduce paper usage.

Modern ECM platforms are easy to deploy and offer much more than simply providing document management functionality; they provide a complete content and information management platform that can live at the centre of an enterprise architecture. Organisations can also use these platforms to provide a single instance of data and document objects which internal users – as well as external customers and third parties – can access quickly and securely. These platforms include traditional features such as document and records management (of all file types), but also include business process management, workflow engines and dynamic case management functionality.

Moreover, the best ECM solutions provide this functionality with easy-to-use point-and-click configuration tools designed for the business to self-configure. As such, these platforms provide the toolset for innovation.

Recognising the need for change, and having a toolset that provides security and compliance as well as rapid application development is all well and good, but change will not occur unless strong leadership is managing the process.

Traditionally we have looked to the Chief Information Officer (CIO) to bring digital innovation. But their remit is typically too far-reaching. They are responsible for the information systems through which data is stored, but not necessarily concerned with the business responsibility of those systems.

CDO rising

The market has recognised that a CIO doesn’t necessarily drive the business forward; instead, he or she is a technology enabler. And so, new senior roles focused on transformation and innovation are appearing; namely a “Transformer in Chief,” or a CDO.

In their roles, CDOs focus on providing fundamental transformation of the way businesses operate, as well as doing better for customers. They are there to provide innovation and lead transformation.

Companies that have appointed this role have embraced digital transformation and innovation as a strategic goal. Not only does this keep their organisations current, it helps them stay ahead of the competition.

These are the companies that are using technology like ECM to integrate all those important software systems in use throughout their enterprises, giving them the ability to communicate and share real-time information. They’re also using ECM platforms to take advantage of the cloud, as well as mobile solutions that keep employees connected to information and processes – wherever they are located.

So consider these questions. Has your company truly embraced the digital age, with lean modern processes?

Do you do the best for your customers by providing digital alternative communications? Do you and your employees have the right tools to encourage innovation? Do you have the right leadership in place to implement change?

Do you have a CDO?


John Rockliffe

Working out of Hyland’s London office as part of Hyland’s Enterprise Solution Architecture team, John brings more than 10 years of corporate experience ranging from enterprise content management (ECM) to... read more about: John Rockliffe

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