The following is the second in a series of follow-up posts to expand on the 13 Essential Roles of a Chief Digital Officer.
A good chief digital officer must have a passion for the latest technology and an understanding of how it can help the organization. Being excited to read about — and try — new tools, software, and gadgets helps the CDO explore the options available to help advance key goals.
But there’s more to the job than simply being a gadget geek. It’s important for the CDO to serve as an evangelist for the digital strategies, tools, and techniques available. Not just the ones that will directly help the CDO’s own organization, mind you, but for digital in general. A good CDO will have other employees turning to them asking questions about the best cell phone or tablet or tool for social networking.
As an evangelist, the CDO should frequently speak to internal audiences about technology and how it impacts the business. When I was a Chief Digital Officer, I created a “Digital University” where my team and I could share information and help educate the rest of the team about the latest tools. It helped them to see the possibilities and become more excited themselves about integrating their own activities with digital approaches.
As the organization becomes more digital savvy — and successful — it’s also valuable for the CDO to evangelize that success to external audiences. It’s no surprise that you see CDO’s appear at many business and industry conferences and events. They have a lot to offer and can share what’s worked and what hasn’t with others. Public and private organizations alike want to be perceived as digital leaders today, so this external evangelism plays an important role in public perception.
Evangelism must take place in the c-suite as well. The organization would not have put a CDO in place without an expectation that more focus on digital was necessary. But there may still be doubters on the executive floor. As an evangelist, the CDO must work to share the passion with those leaders so that they want to push forward with digital initiatives. A good evangelist may even need to rein in the bosses if they become too excited and see digital as a solution for everything. That’s not bad (as long as they can be educated otherwise).
In addition to big picture evangelism, the CDO needs to work one-on-one and in small group meetings to sing the praises of digital media and tools to help show others how they can be used in specific situations. Helping colleagues to see the potential and then working to integrate digital into key activities means that the CDO has had success as an evangelist.