Blog // Digitalisation


There are some progressive organisations who are considering establishing a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) in top management, or have already done so. Other firms have installed a Digital Innovation Officer (DIO) at board level.2

He describes the key tasks of a CDO as understanding IT systems and processes, recognising the potential of digital business processes, analysing business cases and, in particular, understanding the language of the Chief Information Officer (CIO).1

"He should be able to develop a digital version, place the customer’s digital experience at the core of this vision, get customer-oriented projects off the ground and devise corresponding marketing models.”1

A particularly exciting aspect in this connection is the debate about CDO or CIO. The CIO seems like a relic from the twenty-first century. They were tasked with ensuring that reliable and forward-looking information technology was introduced in the company, with the aim of designing fast and efficient processes. The job specification for a CDO, however, goes way beyond this level of expertise.

The requirements for such a digital manager should not be linked exclusively to technical and business management know-how. We need people with a wide experience of credible transformation processes, experiences with genuine participation and the willingness to promote and demand this, as digitalisation is a cultural trend and as such, like innovation, it cannot be “managed” by one individual executive.2

Or, in the language of Sebastian Saxe: “Nowadays companies must incorporate some kind of ‘preacher culture’, identify trends and be able to understand and communicate their effects”…“For me, the mega trend of digitalisation is a cultural change in stages that is just around the corner.“1

The question remains whether there is a “jack-of-all-trades” manager who meets this ambitious skills profile. Cultural change is a tricky business. It all sounds so simple. Let’s change the culture of a society or in an organisation that has existed for donkey’s years! Cultures cannot, in any case, be changed by means of modern approaches such as a few creative workshops and a bit of brainstorming. To change cultures you need a well-thought-out concept over the medium term, resources and, above all, creative power.


1 Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Verlagsspezial, CDO, 10 March 2016, V 7

2 Geschwill, Roland & Nieswandt, Martina, Laterales Management, Das Erfolgsprinzip für Unternehmen im digitalen Zeitalter, Springer 2016