Bowling Alley & Cafe

Is It Time for a Chief Digital Officer?

I took part in a Twitter discussion the other day around CMOs, CIOs, data, and how organizations should be run in a rapidly changing market (and marketing) environment.

We can all agree the ground has shifted.

We’re awash in data (BIG and small).

New technologies have enabled disparate people to find each other, and conversations to happen pretty much anywhere. This has accelerated the rate at which information spreads and given every customer a megaphone.

How your organization adapts and harnesses the information, the data, and the market signals is the challenge of becoming a more social business.

I firmly believe this evolution has to happen.

It’s not about titles.

CMO, CIO, CDO. What’s in a name?

During the Twitter chat, one person stated that in the next few years more and more companies will have a CDO—a chief digital officer. He might be right. But so what? It won’t make any difference who has this role as long as authority to be social is perceived to belong to one person. Or one department. This misses the point.

You can’t silo social.

To be fair, you never could. But the speed and breadth at which messages (good, bad, and ugly) now spread means organizations need to shed themselves of the illusion of command-and-control.

While it’s not likely that every employee will be empowered to speak for your business, every employee is already talking about your business. In bowling alleys and sitting on barstools. At conferences. At parties with their friends. And, yes, on Facebook and other social networks too. The messages have always come from top-down and bottom-up. The difference today is you can’t avoid hearing them.

I don’t know what the “ideal” org chart for a more social business looks like. No one does. But what I do know is that it’s not about appointing a chief digital officer any more than marketing ever was the purview of a lone CMO.

PS: Digital Marketing News wrote a good recap of the conversation.

Photo by All ~ Troy (Flickr).

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Comments ( 2 )

  • THIS. This is why I want out of ‘small minded’ business, to get back to organizations that think bigger, that get that everyone is in PR, everyone is in Social Media, in Support, in R&D. Whether they like it or not. When I do company newsletters, I fight the good fight on messages: what they want to share vs. what employees would actually read, value. I fight to get more people in the room, and to check job titles at the door (one of my things!!). As you say it’s not limited to department or person. It’s one of the first great things we learn as humans; it’s is almost always that which is either championed as key or scapegoated as failure: Communications. Can’t exist in a silo. Which is why I’m always trying to say that if you’re business isn’t communicating, you’re not doing business. FWIW.

    • Hi Davina,

      It’s definitely nice to work with enlightened companies. But, then again, if organizations did everything right up front then what would we be doing all day?

      I guess the good and bad news about digital platforms and real-time communications is that the gaps show up quicker, whether it’s command-and-control decision making or reactive-only engagement. You just can’t get away with it the way you used to.