The IT industry is truly an ever changing trendy field that churns out new stuff every year. As technologies and trends rise and some die, so do the human capital roles needed to manage and drive them. Many years ago, there was a role by the name EDP (Electronic Data Processing) Manager, that is no longer mentioned anywhere. Then came a fellow by name of IT Manager, that still features to date. The CIO landed with a bang and it’s still a very coveted role that most IT professionals want in their resumes. With the rise of Digital and Big Data, we are seeing some role definition dynamics that will potentially either put the CIO role under threat or create new opportunities. With the emergence of these new technologies, chief digital officers and chief data officers are starting to occupy the center seat. This new development is raising questions on whether these CDOs are turning out to be a threat to the CIOs role. The strive and appetite for businesses in Africa and globally to cultivate digital enterprises gave rise to the Chief Digital Officer role. It’s imperative to understand the three types of Chief Digital Officers: ex-Agency – these are the traditional interactive marketing leaders that view digital as “digital marketing”, Digital transformation strategists – change agents chartered with the reinvention of their organizations and lastly, Technologists – those who view digital primarily from an technology enterprise perspective. Gartner VP and distinguished analyst Debra Logan comments that the chief digital officers tend to be more on the marketing and sales side. In 2013, Deloitte published a report on the impact of digital disruption across 18 industries called Digital disruption: Short fuse, big bang. At that time, Deloitte predicted 13 of those industries would face significant risk of disruption by 2017 as a result of the sustained growth and penetration of digital technologies. Delloite’s predictions were right and disruption has occurred way beyond the 18 industries and before 2017!. Digital has evolved significantly over the past few years, giving organizations a new approach to how they market and interact with their customers. It’s with this notion that savvy companies are appreciating the role of the CDO and giving the role some space in the ever crowded board room. For lackluster CIOS, the threat posed by a CDO is a relegation of the CIO role as an individual who understands zero about digital concepts and is best bestowed with managing the traditional IT enterprise. The opportunity provided for innovative and “go getter CIOs” is a chance is prove to the Board that they not only understand the traditional enterprise, but they also grasp digital and everything digital. The latter approach provides a golden opportunity for a traditional CIO to learn a whole new market and get some relief from the routine and operations stuff.
The Chief Data Officer is a relatively new title. Two years ago, a Gartner report suggested that 19%of business leaders expected to recruit a chief digital officer while 17% foresee a chief data officer appointment. The chief data officer is primarily responsible for an organization’s data management and data mining with a high demand for them being seen in the in banking, finance and insurance companies that rely on Data management as a competitive tool. The CDO’s position arose in response to the demands posed by Big Data and the need to look at data beyond the transactional lens. In Africa, I can bet that most organizations are yet to appreciate any of these roles. For organizations that want to stay ahead of the pack and be more competitive the emergence of these new roles, provides a perfect moment to bring in talent that will help steer this agenda. An emerging opinion is that the rise of the Chief Data Officer might dilute the CIO role, especially for traditional inward looking CIOs. It’s however an opportunity for ambitious CIOs to either maneuver their way in the board room and get the Data role under their domain or gravitate towards this role. With the rise and rise of Big Data, most organizations will be hesitant to let the CIO wear both hats and would prefer to have a full time Chief Data Officer. The fact remains that the CIO role is here to stay, but pressure is building on this role to be more assertive and forward looking as more “Cs” join the block.