Writer, classic rock lover, dog rescuer, company founder, software exec, and now independent management consultant--I speak, blog, and pester my friends about these topics. My current focus is getting IT and business organizations to collaborate more effectively and not kill each other. I also talk and write about big data, why analytics is fundamentally strategic, how to pitch business execs on IT projects, and why not to buy a dog from a pet store.

I’ve lived in London, Paris, and Sydney, but call L.A. home. #weatherwimp. I cultivate an organic vegetable garden and friends with issues. I’ve written three books, co-authored a fourth, and contributed to a bunch more. (I have another one in my head waiting to come out, but it’s crowded in there right now.) I prefer Def Leppard to Bon Jovi, mashed potatoes to brown rice, fly fishing to golf, Pinot Noir to Zinfandel, and nice people to assholes. I have a tattoo. I’m not telling you where. I feel guilty that I go hot and cold on social media, that I don’t spend enough face time with my friends, that my French is rusty, and that I ate that whole bag of Kirkland peanut butter cups in less than a week. I have to live with those things.

The Six Key Functions of the Chief Digital Officer

The Six Key Functions of the Chief Digital Officer

In which Jill describes what the Chief Digital Officer actually DOES.

“Your company is probably struggling with technology issues that are very different from those at Amazon, Facebook, or Ebay—never mind Airbnb, Lyft, or TaskRabbit. You probably don’t roam the hallways advocating for creative destruction. It’s a pretty sure bet that your executives are only now waking up to the digital future.”

-- The New IT: How Technology Leaders Are Enabling Business Strategy in the Digital Age (McGraw-Hill, 2015), page 157.

At the Argyle Leadership in Digital Marketing Forum in New York a few weeks back I delivered a keynote on the rise of the Chief Digital Officer. Turns out that half the attendees were already performing the CDO role, while the other half was considering it.

The challenges of the new digital age make the role of a CDO a no-brainer. After all, who else will ensure that the company’s key strategies are supported by emerging technologies and new organizational competencies?

I should have put that last part in quotes, since it’s an actual job description for a financial service firm’s Chief Digital Officer.

To answer my own question: Plenty of people! Chief Marketing Officers, Chief Information Officers, Chief Technology Officers, Chief Data Officers, Chief Strategy Officers, and newly-anointed Chief Marketing Technology Officers all assume they’ll be rolling out digital capabilities in their workaday roles.

In the meantime, newly-minted CDOs have their own challenges. They’re caught between competing visions of CMOs and CIOs. They’re expected to leverage the technology expertise of an often-marginalized IT department. Ownership of digitally-adjacent solutions like big data, analytics, and mobile, is vague. High touch legacy cultures may even sabotage digital efforts.

It turns out that many companies hire the CDO before completely defining the role. In my experience the Chief Digital Officer needs to excel at six key functions in order to be truly effective:

  1. Map digital capabilities to strategic priorities. Digital won’t get the visibility or support it needs if it’s not helping the company get where it wants to go.
  2. Serve as the executive sponsor for digital process innovation. Other executives might not be measured on new functionality or economies of scale that digital capabilities enable. For instance, consider the complexities of digitizing the mortgage loan application, and how that will impact a variety of existing business processes.
  3. Develop and administer the digital project portfolio. Responsibility for actual deployment of digital solutions might rest with line of business executives. Centralized monitoring of often-heterogeneous digital initiatives is critical.
  4. Measure new efficiencies and ROI. Replacing manual processes with technology drives both cost savings and revenue generation. The CDO’s oversight across digital initiatives positions him or her uniquely well to measure success.
  5. Develop ways to attract and retain top talent. Companies often have more mature visions for digital than they do skills.
  6. Be the “executive intermediary” during delivery. This often means enlisting involvement from other executives, re-establishing priorities, acting as a coach, or serving as tiebreaker during the rollout of digital capabilities.

Most of these responsibilities are brand new, and thus won’t step on the toes of incumbent executives, many of whom—once they realize the additive value of the Chief Digital Officer—will welcome the help.

Original article on CIO.com.

The Rise of the Digital Enterprise

The Rise of the Digital Enterprise

Everything’s a Moon Shot: Creating Space for Innovation

Everything’s a Moon Shot: Creating Space for Innovation