Who’s Owns the Digital Strategy in Your Company?

The Problem: What CxO role makes more sense to own the Digital Strategy?

It appears a simple question that no one seems (or wants) to answer. As companies are getting a better understanding of “What” a Digital Strategy really is and “Why” we need one, the next natural step is to wonder about the next W in the sequence: the Who. And here is where the heated debate starts.

The well know battle has been between the CIO (Chief Information Officer) and the CTO (Chief Technology Officer). However, do to the history of company hierarchies (specially technology organizational structures) the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) or COO (Chief Operations Officer) can get in the mix. Other contenders have emerged: The CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) due to the new nature of marketing being immerse in social media and other Internet platforms and, new roles in the C-Suite such as CSO (Chief Strategy Officer) and CCO (Chief Creative Officer).

Also New CxO are being created to address this. For instance, CDO (Chief Digital Officer) and CCO (Chief Customer Experience Officer):

At last but not least, in the absence of accountability, the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) will take care of it. However, this doesn’t solve the core issue.

In summary, The bigger the company the bigger the list of CxOs. If the company is small, the complexity still exists with people wearing multiple hats (e.g., CIO/CFO in one role) creating potential conflict or bias. But the issue doesn’t reside on the C-name game, lets discuss what is the real question we need to ask.

The Real Question

So really Who do you think should own the Digital Strategy? Regardless of who do you think should own the Digital Strategy of your company, I can tell you right out of the bat that, if you picked any CxO individually, your answer is not correct. Actually, we are not asking the right question. The Key question is: What are the key elements needed by the leadership of the company to effectively define and execute a successful Digital Strategy? I bet you answer to this one with no hesitation: Collaboration and Orchestration (Rhythm). From Who? All C-Level executives

The Rhythm Tree

In order to learn music, The Rhythm Tree is one of the most important tools to learn. It describes each one of the notes, values and how they are related to each other (see image below)


A successful Digital Strategy needs all groups in the organization to be involved (collaboration) but the most critical factor is the relationship and sequencing of their participation (rhythm).

For example, The sequence that needs to occur in a successful Digital Strategy should be as follows:

  1. All C-level Executives outline the Digital Strategy and objectives
  2. CTO identifies the key technologies that will help transform the company into a Digital company
  3. CFO approves funding of the Digital Strategy resources (staff, time and budget)
  4. CIO coordinates the implementation and Operation of these technologies according to schedule
  5. CHO drives the organizational change that will address the skills gap between the team and future state of the company (Digital Company). CHO also coordinates training
  6. The CMO produces the content and develop the right story for the right platform
  7. COO ensures platforms are delivering the value originally expected and collects feedback from business and clients
  8. All C-Level executives confirm objectives have been met
  9. Back to step 1

The diagram below shows the addition of two more C-level jobs: the Chief Digital Strategy Officer (CDO) and the Chief Customer Care Officer (CCO). This roles help enhance the orchestration aspect of the strategy from the perspective of the Strategy itself and client’s feedback.

In summary, an open minded Collaboration and Orchestration are the core requirements of any Digital Strategy. A successful Digital Strategy has many owners. Not all the same time but at the right time.

Thanks so much for reading. If you would like to discuss this topic in further detail, join the conversation on snapchat (Snapchat User: gerardo.amaya). We can have a one-on-one consulting session over Snaps and Stories. So send me your questions and/or comments. I’ll answer asap. Cheers