Data Management

A Day in the Life of a Chief Digital Officer

Teresa Wingfield

February 20, 2024

Chief Digital Officer

Almost every organization is embarking on some sort of digital transformation initiative. The role of a Chief Digital Transformation Officer (CDO) has emerged to lead and oversee success. Major responsibilities of the CDO include:

  • Define and implement a digital strategy for the company’s future that includes technologies such as the cloud, artificial intelligence, automation, Internet of Things (IoT), and social media.
  • Integrate digital initiatives with strategic planning to gain executive leadership commitment and budget, and resource allocation.
  • Work with cross-functional teams to generate innovative digital solutions for products, services, customer experiences, sales, marketing, and optimized business processes
  • Own, prioritize, monitor, and manage the company’s digital innovation project portfolio.
  • Serve as an evangelist and a change agent, championing the use of digital technology and practices.

Top Challenges for the CDO

Executing the above activities is a demanding job. While specific challenges may vary based on the industry and organizational context, some common challenges faced by the CDO include resistance to change, budget justification, hard-to-replace legacy technologies, the skills gap, and demonstrating success as discussed below.

Resistance to Change

A general sentiment expressed as “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” competes with an overarching sense of urgency created by the need for digital transformation. To overcome the status quo, CDOs are constantly engaged in identifying and clearly communicating the pain points stagnation is causing. These often include compatibility and obsolescence issues, security and compliance risks, missing functionality, lack of scalability to meet business growth, expensive maintenance, inefficient workflows, and processes that hamper business agility, and poor user experiences.

Budget Justification

It can be challenging to show that the cost of modernization is significantly less than maintaining legacy systems over time. The budget justification challenge is compounded by maintenance and innovation budgets that are usually separate along with the sentiment that money might be better spent on opportunities other than what is working as intended, especially if the return on investment of modernization will take time to materialize.

These issues place a heavy onus on CDOs to highlight the opportunities that digital transformation presents. By embracing digital transformation, CDOs elaborate on the business value, such as operational efficiency, optimizing the customer experience, product innovation, data-driven decision making, business agility, sustainability, and staff productivity.

Plus, it’s a lot easier to integrate digital technologies with a wide range of systems, processes, and functions across an organization than to integrate legacy ones. This is important because digital technologies play a critical role in optimizing the supply chain by improving visibility, efficiency, and collaboration. Legacy modernization in the realm of electronic commerce is another key example that can lead to a more agile and user-friendly online shopping experience that supports a greater choice of web and mobile interfaces.

Hard-to-Replace Legacy Technologies

As businesses attempt to modernize, many have legacy systems and infrastructure that are hard to replace. On-premises to cloud migration can be a long and risky journey. Migrating or replacing these systems while ensuring business continuity requires careful planning and resources. The CDO often oversees the development of a data migration strategy to ensure a smooth transition from legacy systems to modern platforms and their integration with existing applications, databases, and platforms. Identifying and mitigating risks associated with legacy system replacement is critical to avoid disruption of mission-critical systems. 

Talent Acquisition and Skill Gaps

Not only is attracting, developing, and retaining talent with the right digital skills a constant challenge, but existing legacy staff will need to be retrained and/or upskilled. Layoffs in technology may be in full swing, but demand in 2024 for digital transformation technical skills such as cloud, DevOps, security, privacy, development, artificial intelligence, automation, system updates, data integration, and analytics is high according to Robert Half Technology’s 2024 IT salary report.

Showing Success

Demonstrating positive business outcomes is critical to continued success, but how to measure them isn’t easy. CDOs often use these types of key performance indicators (KPIs) to gauge impact:

  • Percentage increase in digital sales or revenue.
  • Customer satisfaction scores (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), and other customer engagement metrics.
  • Time to launch for digital products and services
  • Percentage of users or employees adopting new digital tools and processes.
  • Cost savings achieved through process automation or efficiency gains.

Digital Transformation with Actian

Actian transforms business by enabling customers to make confident, data-driven decisions that accelerate their organization’s growth. We are committed to helping our customers secure their digital future by making it easy to modernize their databases and database applications, including flexible choices for on-premises to cloud migration.

Related Resources

About Teresa Wingfield

Teresa Wingfield is Director of Product Marketing at Actian where she is responsible for communicating the unique value that the Actian Data Platform delivers, including proven data integration, data management and data analytics. She brings a 20-year track record of increasing revenue and awareness for analytics, security, and cloud solutions. Prior to Actian, Teresa managed product marketing at industry-leading companies such as Cisco, McAfee, and VMware.