CIO vs CDO? Competitors or collaborators?

Is the role of CIO still fitting this changing world? Or maybe engaging a CDO has become a necessity?

As technology is growing and transforming the industry worldwide, the roles in IT industry have grown in popularity and importance. Is the role of CIO still fitting this changing world? Or maybe engaging a CDO has become a necessity?

CIO - Chief Information Officer - The role responsible for the management, implementation and usability of information technologies and information. The CIO analyzes how different technologies benefit the company or improve an existing business process, and then integrates the system to realize that benefit or improvement. “Fewer CIOs now sit on the board - dropping from 71% to 58% in 2 years but CIO influence remains intact (66% see the role gaining influence compared to 65% in 2018)” CDO – Chief Digital Officer – The role is responsible for driving growth and strategic renewal by transforming traditional analog organizations into digital enterprises, with a focus on creating new value through the intelligent use of digital tools, platforms, technologies, services and processes.

While the CIO traditionally oversees the company's IT infrastructure to improve operational efficiency, the CDO is more concerned with implementing digital initiatives that enable strategic innovation and business transformation. One could say that a traditional CIO is a continuity manager, while a CDO is a change manager. CIOs inevitably focus on the company's existing business activities, while CDOs look at issues such as customer loyalty, brand experience, future strategy and creating new business models and revenue streams. Companies know that they need to balance the continuity of current business with rapid technological change and deep strategic renewal on the other hand, so they define two leadership roles. In companies that have chosen both CIO and CDO roles, those two can work together to stimulate digital progress inside, outside and throughout the organization. Based on research from KPMG and Harvey Nash, the most successful companies employ both CIOs and digital directors (CDOs) who work in tandem to leverage innovative technology.

What is your opinion about these two roles within the organisation?

Author: Magda Wojtasik


Harvey Nash, KPMG ‘A changing perspective’ CIO Survey 2019