Everyone wants to digitize, but where are the digital managers?

Everyone wants to digitize, but where are the digital managers?

The world is changing faster than ever before, driven by megatrends and innovations. The entry barriers for companies wanting to get involved in new technological innovations have greatly diminished. Even companies in the manufacturing industries are not immune to this wave of digitization. Nowadays, digitization is leaving its mark on our entire economy and society.

Purely digital or disruptive business models are not the solution

As a result of this trend, many companies are busy working to develop large-scale digitization strategies and make every effort to implement them accordingly. But purely digital or even disruptive business models are not enough in themselves. For one thing, large corporations and established companies cannot simply throw their existing business models out of the window overnight. And for another, any realignment should be implemented as part of a holistic approach. Many German companies that are currently involved in digitization have no main controller, a so-called Chief Digital Officer (CDO), to manage and push ahead with the process.

It starts with a digitization strategy

And this should preferably come from the company itself, and not just from the marketing department, because it affects the entire enterprise.

Many companies set up “Digitization LLCs” or push the issue completely into the lap of the IT department, and thus directly to the CIO. In some companies, departments and teams are established to deal with the issue and implement the necessary projects in the company.

In companies that have already created a digital officer position, this is usually located at management level. Typically, a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) is responsible for the digitization process for the country where his company operates.

Support from HR required

Usually, the Chief Digital Officer is directly responsible to the Board of Directors or the Executive Board. The HR department should be involved in the digital transformation in key areas. Initially in the area of enterprise development. This digital transformation requires well-designed and professionally organised change management. This should be accompanied by HR, ideally with professional support, to implement the new strategy and orientation throughout the entire workforce.

The human design of the digital business model and the resulting derivation of new staffing roles and responsibilities, as well as relevant job profiles, also require competent and professional support.

What does a Chief Digital Officer actually do?

Big-name international companies such as McDonald’s, Toyota, Starbucks, Nestlé and L’Oréal already have a Chief Digital Officer on board. Numerous German companies are currently considering whether to recruit anew addition at board level.

The Chief Digital Officer is the one who develops, drives and is ultimately responsible for the online strategy and the digital transformation. This role requires a strategist, an implementer, a change manager and a motivator all in one person. To ensure that he has the required capacity, he should be a board member as digitization often enables new business models, while rendering other processes and even entire lines of business obsolete.

One of the Chief Digital Officer’s essential tasks is to identify the business potential resulting from digitization, and also to take advantage of this for the company. This includes the development of new digital products and services that, on the one hand, can bring new sources of revenue for the company and, on the other hand, also mean an increase in customer satisfaction. In addition, he must consider in his planning what kind of employee know-how is required for the digitization process, what expertise the company already has and how to go about recruiting the experts that are needed.

Ultimately, all parts of the company are affected by digitization: from the staff and internal processes and structures to the development of new sales opportunities and communication channels.

Various qualifications required

The Chief Digital Officer needs to have many skills, because much is demanded from him. He is not a pure IT manager who has only a technical background; rather, he can come from all kinds of areas: business administration and national economics, communication, IT, management, product development, services and many more. The most important thing is, however, that he must unite highly diverse skills.

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