How to get your “Chief Digital Officer” for free!

Posted on: December 3, 2014 by Christian Ruess

They are everywhere! There is no getting around them. Wherever you look and whenever you read about digitalization, you will get to the point where the author recommends setting up a new role called “Chief Digital Officer”: Hiring a smart person to take care of digital transformation is seen as the ultimate weapon and smartest way to cope with the challenges of digitalization. Voilà, done, problem solved. Next please. But does this really solve the problem?

The challenges inherent to digitalization are well known. In short, customers now ask for flexible, personalized and interactive solutions that drive growth and innovation. They want speed, agility, scalability and transparency. As a result, Digital Transformation originates mainly from new customer expectations and only marginally from the digital natives who have gradually entered the workforce and are now pushing for radical changes within the organizations.

When facing such market pressure, companies usually respond in two distinct ways. In a small number of cases, Executive Management may decide to invest heavily to protect its activities by radically and quickly changing both the business model and the business processes. But more often, Executive Management elects incremental changes, where strategy and transformation are implemented through well-measured steps following a “try and evolve” logic.

If you find yourself in the second scenario, which role within your company will be the first impacted by the need to change things? Who will become the counterpart for the sales representatives receiving recurrent customer demands to bring flexible, personalized interaction solutions and sales approaches? Where do the sales representatives place the request to get real time information for customer meetings (incl. order status, customized discount rates, dedicated promotions, feedback on recent orders or delivery times of new products)? The answer lies with your Business Process Sales (BPS) responsible. The pressure originated by customers for Digital Transformation will hit him/her first and with significant force.

Looking at the big picture, there is a natural mechanism within your company that will help drive Digital Transformation. The company’s need for maximizing backend efficiency and operational excellence while meeting the customers’ demands will drive digitalization throughout the organization. Starting with the “first contact with digitalization” in BPS (including Customer Relationship Management), topics like Intelligent Analytics and Collaborative Demand Planning will drive transformation into Supply Chain Management (SCM). And it will not stop there: going further, the need for flexible, scalable and interaction solutions will drive along the value chain into Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). Eventually, support functions like Human Resources will be affected, too, for instance with regards to demand planning aspects. Without these deep company-wide changes, flexible and scalable solutions will not delivered in a sustainable way.

So here is the good news: your Business Process Sales responsible already sits right at the center of attention for Digital Transformation. On the one hand, customers and sales representatives force him to act quickly. On the other hand, he will only be able to fulfill customer requests for end-to-end service/solutions if the business processes SCM, PLM and the support functions start moving as well. But in which direction, and at what speed? Answering both of these questions is essential to keep up with market demand, and should be an inherent part of the role of your BPS responsible. So coming back to the initial question: Why spend additional money for a new role if you have the logical answer already available?

The real question you should ask is whether your Business Process Sales Responsible has the right toolset, the right decision authority and the right visibility in the current setup to make your Digital Transformation successful. If yes, you are in good shape, if not, fixing that might be a great step towards digitalization!

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About Christian Ruess
Head of Telco, Media & Technology Germany at Atos
Christian is Global Head of Telco, Media & Technology within Atos Germany. He has a strong background in Business Strategy and Business Modeling and looks back to many years of Management Consulting expertise. He is also member of the Scientific Community since 2012.

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