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Driving Digital Transformation from the forefront

CDO and the evolving role of the Digital Team

With most global organizations now either embarking on or scaling up their digital transformation programs, the role of the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) has also evolved, matured and become more mainstream.

Who exactly is the Chief Digital Officer?

The CDO is a C-level executive whose primary objective is to drive growth by transforming the traditional and legacy aspects of the organization into digital and innovative ones, with a special focus on creating new business value across multiple dimensions of the organization by leveraging digital tools, platforms, technologies and partnerships.

Evolution of the CDO role

The CDO’s role, initially carved out from the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) was limited to enhancing customer experience. Today, the CDO’s role has expanded to reach wider parts of the organization and plays a defining role in corporate strategy, innovation, product strategy, digital partnerships, technology and even production operations.

The CDO’s professional background has evolved from traditional marketing, sales & service towards more software and technology-oriented backgrounds. This transition is an indication of how closely technology is integrated into the digital transformation initiatives of enterprises.

The CDO and the Digital team play a central role in defining the future of the enterprise and closely interact with multiple dimensions of the organization:

  • With plants to identify potential areas of digital intervention and implementation of new initiatives (from pilot to production)

  • With product owners to define and roll-out the digital product roadmap strategy

  • With plant IT and central IT teams to revamp the technology architecture for the digital age

  • With central production teams to ensure digital initiatives are quickly replicated and scaled across different plants and business units

  • With process owners (across HR, Finance, Audit etc.) to optimize and automate processes through digital technologies

  • With external partner ecosystem to accelerate pace of digital innovation

As a result of the increasing levels of interactions across the organization, there is also a growing level of overlap of the CDO’s role with that of CMO, CTO and CIO.

While new-age digital native companies have innovation ingrained in their DNA, the larger, more traditional companies require a thrust to drive innovation and CDO is a strong enabler for the same.

Defining the role and responsibilities of the CDO and the Digital Team

Digital transformation initiatives involve multiple stakeholders and it is critical that CDO positions itself as a lead advisor and facilitator in creating alignment and arriving at a common vision for digital transformation at a corporate level. CDO & the Digital Team need to wear multiple hats to ensure the organization effectively meets its goals


Act as the “executive intermediary” during change management. This often means enlisting involvement and obtaining stakeholder buy-in from other executives, partners etc.


Create awareness about importance of digital across all parts of the organization


Serve as a PoC factory for all digital initiatives across the enterprise


Support in the program management of execution by bringing cross functional teams together and help find the most optimal mechanism (inhouse, partners etc.) to implement new initiatives considering objectives such as high impact, low cost and quick time to value

The responsibilities of the CDO and Digital Team should be aligned to ensure the organization extracts maximum value from its investments across all digital initiatives. Key responsibilities that can be considered are:

  • Define and implement digital strategy in a collaborative manner with all stakeholders within and outside the organization.

  • Define and track success metrics (both lead and lag indicators) to monitor how each initiative is driving business value to the organization

  • Foster new age digital talent and create an intrapreneurial digital culture through dedicated initiatives such as innovation pitch nights, hackathons, accelerators etc.

  • Expand the digital partnership ecosystem and build capability to tap into required digital competencies on demand

  • Provide digital advisory support to different parts of the organization (product roadmap planning, technology architecture, implementation etc.)

  • Host a repository of reusable digital tools, frameworks, IPs that can be quickly utilized across the organization

  • Create a centralized and scalable mechanism for program management of often-heterogenous digital initiatives across the organization

Reach out to us

If you are in a digital leadership role, reach out to us to for insights into how global digital teams are playing a key role in the enterprise growth strategy and identify mechanisms that your team can adopt for the same through our “Value Discovery Workshops

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