‘Disrupt digital businesses before you get disrupted!’

‘Disrupt digital businesses before you get disrupted!’

Fostering a culture of digital DNA is important in order to succeed in the digital age, but who should lead this task? Ray Wang of Silicon Valley-based Constellation Research answers this question for enterprises building new businesses with disruptive technology.

All organisations must embrace a central champion who ensures that the digital business principles and policies are in harmony with the organisation’s overall strategy, says Ray Wang, principal analyst and CEO at Silicon Valley-based Constellation Research.

Wang calls for fostering a culture of digital DNA in the organisation as it strives to build new business models with disruptive technology.

Digital leadership is important, and digitally transformed organisations do differentiate themselves with higher margins, greater market share, and increased brand relevancy and massive scale. And this is really where we want to go, as we live and work in this era of digital business, notes Wang, who discussed this theme in his upcoming book Disrupting Digital Business: Create an Authentic Experience in the Peer-to-Peer Economy .

But this redoubtable task does not fall on just one person, he says. While a chief digital officer can lead the charge, there need to be a broader bench of digital CXOs.

“Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think a single chief digital officer will be enough,” Wang tells CIO New Zealand.

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“It’s a good start but the goal is to digitally enable all CXOs. For example, the HR head should be hiring for digital artisans - those who get digital DNA. The head of finance should be looking at on demand digital models.”

“The head of IT should be looking at agility to support digital,” he adds. “The line of business leads should be understanding the possibilities and constraints of technology.”

“The bottom line: digitally enabled CXOs are needed.”

While the existing patterns of CDO appointments may run by industry, Constellation Research sees three board trends emerging, he says.

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Digital infusion is a requirement for the modern leader

Ray Wang, Constellation Research

The first is that the the chief digital officer role will continue to proliferate.

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Constellation expects that half of the Fortune 500 companies will appoint a CDO by 2016, he says. The roles and responsibilities may vary slightly but the emphasis on new business model creation and support will remain a key and common denominator, he says. “A chief digital officer must have P&L responsibility to be effective. Most will but many will not.”

The second trend is that digitally enabled CXOs will emerge over time.

While the CDO will spearhead and rally the troops towards digital business transformation, Wang says all leaders inside the organisation must gain a digital orientation. More than technology, this shift involves both business and technology savvy required for CFOs, CEOs, CIOs, CMOs, COOs, chief people officers, and others. Digital infusion is a requirement for the modern leader.”

The third trend, he says, is that the digital moniker will disappear before 2020. “As with cyber, social, e-business, etc, these monikers will go away as digital becomes mainstream,” says Wang.

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“However between now and 2020, boards will see the largest change in requirements for their executive management team. Technology savvy and business acumen will no longer be isolated and separate requirements of future leaders.”

Next: Who should be appointed chief digital officer - the CMO, CIO or COO?

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