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Arjun Sethi, A.T. Kearney
Arjun Sethi, A.T. Kearney
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Do Organizations of the Future Really Need a Chief Digital Officer?

Charging a single person with executing a digital strategy for the future could be a step in the wrong direction.

Arjun Sethi, A.T. Kearney
Arjun Sethi, A.T. Kearney
As you struggle with how to respond to digital disruption—the wave of new products, services, philosophies, complexities, and relationships brought about by new digital technologies—you may be tempted to try a new idea. You may be thinking that what you need to meet these new conditions is a role with a new title, such as Chief Digital Officer (CDO). If so, you may be wrong.

The notion of a central management group for innovation —- such as a CDO or Chief Innovation Officer -— has some merit. Such a leadership role can articulate a vision, and a strategy to get there. But once that vision is articulated, is a centralized structure really the best way to achieve it?

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Digital failures are often caused by organizational misalignment. And part of the problem is that a centralized team can struggle to drive the day-to-day execution of product innovation. After all, a CDO doesn’t own the products. The CDO owns the vision —- a vision that could quickly become outdated given the speed and unpredictability of these changes.

Think about it: digital disruption will force a formerly slow, conservative, top-down industry to become more nimble and customer-focused. Should that transformation be managed by new top-down structures, with a single individual charged with changing behaviors throughout the organization?

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