Dion Hinchcliffe explains the primary difference between the Chief Digital Officer role and the Chief Information Officer role. CDOs are responsible for creating business value using existing assets, channels, and IT. They have P&L responsibilities. CIOs have operational responsibilities. They use technology to support business operations and efficiencies.

CIO and Chief Digital Officer

The big differences in the CIO and the Chief Digital Officer is this responsibility for turning IT into a value creator, being a business to the extent of actually having a P&L, which is something that the CIO typically doesn’t have in most organizations.

And so we also see the CDO as something that is really leading digital business from the front in a way that most CIOs aren’t. Most CIOs are not trying to think of new markets, new channels, new business models that the organisation should be getting and making that a top priority. And that’s pretty much all the Chief Digital Officer thinks about is how to take existing assets, existing information, existing knowledge and making a business out of that creating products and services and entering new markets.

I think that the CIO, however, is used to operating much larger operations, so I think what remains to be seen we’re not seeing Chief Digital Officers have as much operational experience, or even necessarily seem to require it. Although I think the really successful digital businesses will be able to scale up their organizations really well, they’re going to have Chief Digital Officers that are good at that, we’re not seeing operational jobs as job number one, quite the same way as we’re seeing it in traditional CIOs.

In terms of really any other big differences, we see that Chief Digital Officers are very multidisciplinary, so they have a lot of different experiences, and there’re very comfortable in talking with marketing and sales in their language. They’re very good at talking to the product teams in their language and operations in their language, and executives and so on. And not to the same degree that we see the CIOs that don’t really talk the language of business, and they talk the language of the IT department but that tends to be it.