Chief Digital Officer (CDO) or Another Chief Is All We Need

Steve Martin
Steve Martin: Unrelated, love this guy.

Here is a full interview I did with Matt Alderton for PM Network Magazine that only got published partially. I think you guys might find it interesting.

1. First of all, let’s define the role of “Chief Digital Officer” (CDO). What is a CDO, exactly? What does this person do, and why is their job important? How is this person different from a Chief Information Officer, or a Chief Technology Officer?

The three positions are not mutually exclusive nor does one replace the other.
Here are some rough definitions.

CTO
Focuses on technology and technological innovation.
Specializes in technical architecture, frameworks, platforms, deployments and R&D.
Ensures the technological stability of the organization, and drives technological research and innovation.
Education (in order of importance): Computer engineering / management / business.

CIO
Focuses on business processes, information architecture, and internal organizational workflows and finding the technology that best fits them.
Specializes in business processes, content architecture, production and management, strong technical background.
Ensures the integrity, production and dissemination of digital content throughout the organization; optimizes business processes.
Education: Business engineering / Computer engineering / Management

CDO
Focuses on communication, digital tools and business optimization
Specializes in using digital platforms/tools for internal/external communication and to drive business opportunities.
Ensures the integrity of the digital communication, drives business using digital channels
Education: Marketing (Communication) / Business / Management / Computer engineering

 

2.     In your opinion and experience, is the CDO role becoming more common? Is demand for it growing? Why or why not? What’s driving the evolution of this new role?

Absolutely more common.
There are a couple factors which contributed to the evolution of the CDO role:

–       the high adoption of social media by the public (consumers)

–       the standardization of social media platforms with similar user experience: Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Reddit, Blogger, Wikipedia

–       the standardization of content types (tweets, statuses, images, videos, comments, etc.)

–       the standardization of the SAAS / SAAP (soft as a platform) model (businesses can use the same type of platforms with similar user experience)

In the past 10 years the digital consumer behavior, product usability and the type of networks and the SAAS platforms have converged.

Thus:
The technological implication of a CTO is mainly focused on new product development and no longer on supporting an operational technological framework.

The business practices and information architecture are also pretty standardized, so the CIO mainly focuses on highly innovative business engineering or driving organizational change, no longer requiring a technological or content specialization.

Nowadays, with consumers converging in predictable usage patterns and networks, the focus is on communication.

The role of a CDO would be inputting all the existing pieces together (internal and external, earned and owned digital assets) into the optimal business configuration.

Thus the question is no longer what technologies should we develop in order to optimize our internal and external communication, but: which social networks we should use, and what existing technologies we should adopt internally. What is the optimal configuration for communicating internally and externally (with regulators, consumers, etc.)?

There is a clear business shift towards more open and transparent practices of communication. The CDO must have extraordinary understanding of the digital space from a communication, technology and social perspective.

 

3.     Where (i.e., in what industries and at what types of companies) are you most likely to find a CDO, and why?

In B2C and public entities (municipalities, government).
Especially companies that deal directly with consumers, since by using the available social digital assets, they will irreversibly cross paths.
However, since behind every B there is a C, I’d say that all companies should at least consult a CDO/digital expert

 

4.     In organizations that have one, is the CDO on par with other senior executives, such as the COO and the CMO? Or is the CDO a more junior role? Please explain.

By default, having a new position (that some might consider only a trend) and being younger (important) the CDO will not be considered on par with other executives.
Now, a smart CEO will take the CDO and protect the position until the latter gains enough traction inside the company to earn the respect of the other Cs.

The results will not be there right away. There is a team to be built, business cases to prove, communication philosophy and methods to change.

The best ally of the CDO should be the CMO, unfortunately it’s rarely the case. (Is a CEO ready to change his/her CMO for the strategic sake of developing a strong CDO practice?)

 

5.     In your opinion, would a project manager make a good CDO? Why or why not? Specifically, what skills and experiences do project managers have that might qualify them for the CDO role?

Every C must be a manager. Period.
Now, I happen to believe that project management is the best way to get into business management.

A project manager understands with great precision, how resources are allocated, the budgets used and timelines respected.

A good project manager can develop unprecedented insight into the organizational issues of a company. Very often project managers have to deal with communication risks between departments, bad hires, unmotivated employees, unclear business objectives, client management issues, etc.

This experience is crucial in understanding how the business works and what needs to improve.

Now, take a digital seasoned PMP with business and digital communication experience and you have the potential for a great CDO.

 

6.     What are employers looking for when they’re hiring a CDO? For example, are they looking for people with specific skill sets (e.g., risk management, project management, communications, IT, leadership, strategic planning), credentials (e.g., degrees, certifications, etc.) or experience (e.g., e-commerce, Internet marketing, social media)? Do they typically want someone from a digital background, or someone from a business background?

Many companies don’t understand the strategic necessity of having CDO. I guess most people learned about the title when Rachel (Sterne) become the CDO of NYC.

The decision to hire a CDO must come from a strategic plan focused on the evolution of  the company, not merely improving the existing practices. The mission of a CDO is more specific than that of a CIO. In the case of the CIO, change management is about knowledge, processes, leadership, information management, collaboration and ERPs. The CDO has more concrete KPIs as: improving the direct communication internally as well as externally, and detecting actionable opportunities created by digital assets and platforms.

In terms of competency, it is much easier to have a digital basis and then develop marketing and business competencies.

Social media is always an asset since this is the revolution that created the CDO position in the first place.

I would be looking for a manager of a digital business in charge of marketing with a social media flavor.

Being PMP is a great asset, especially for those working in communications since there are very few managers with expert project management knowledge in the field.

Education, degrees, awards: Computer BSci, PMP, MBA, a couple awards like Cyber Lions or SxSW.

 

7.     Where are most CDOs coming from? Are they being promoted from within? Are they coming from marketing departments? IT departments? Certain parts of the world (e.g., North America, Europe, Asia)? In other words: Where are employers getting CDO talent from?

On client side: from marketing departments, someone in charge of digital would be best (and this is one of the key reasons the CMO will not always get along with the CDO). Absolutely not IT. The focus of the CDO is communication over existing and new digital assets and platforms. You don’t want someone who will overthink the best technological configuration and ignore the business communication aspect.

Best source of talent: digital ad agency execs with a great understanding of social media and experience in your industry.

Absolutely North America. It’s the home of social media and we have the full spectrum of communication to deal with (from very open to closed networks). You want someone who will be able to see the big picture and scale it down to your specific business needs.

 

8.     What can project managers do to groom themselves for a future as a CDO, in terms of developing appropriate skills, experience and education? What skills and/or experiences do most project managers lack that they should work on?

Project managers tend to be very technical. Many lack the ability to manage creative people, find creative solutions to business problems. (an ad agency PM is a good solution).

Also surprisingly, communication skills are also very often lacking. In order to be a successful exec, you need to develop communication charisma. Having a blog and writing smart stuff is not enough. Public speaking (panels, presentations, conferences) is a great way to practice for anyone interested in evolving into good executive material.

Thirdly, social media! If you think social media is fad, and you’re waiting for the bubble to burst, you’re the wrong person for the job. What are the business opportunities offered by social media, that go beyond having a Facebook fan page and tweeting your lunch? Above any technological hype (that might come and go – FB, G+, etc), the usage of social media will it only grow in the future? You need to embrace these realities in order to be a good CDO candidate.

 

9.  How can project managers effectively market themselves as a superior CDO candidate? In other words: I’m a project manager submitting my resume for a CDO position. What’s your advice for me? How do I get noticed? How do I show employers that I’m the best person for the job?

Be passionate. Believe in what you want to do. Your goal is to help the organization tap into new business opportunities, become a more open organization, provide superior customer service, and eliminate costly technological and prejudiced business decisions (every company has some).

Put emphasis on: Communication, Digital, Business and Management – in this order.

Also, as an organization, if you want to hire a CDO only because your chairman read it on Forbes Magazine, you’re doing it wrong. This is a strategic business decision that will have a financial and cultural impact on your organization. Some businesses are more ready than others for this change.

 

10.  What didn’t I ask about that you think is important? Any final thoughts or miscellaneous remarks?

In spite of recent economic debacles, we live in extraordinary times.
There are more opportunities than ever, for business and professionals.
A great educational foundation is only the beginning. Openness, transparency, care and intelligence are qualities that we shouldn’t only expect from businesses but also from ourselves. 

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Please discuss.

Digital Business Planning, A Long and Smarter Road: From your Business Objective to a Tweet

Every Titanic has its iceberg
Every Titanic has her iceberg

Some notes regarding digital strategic planning, data & tactics. Will detail them in the next posts. This might seem complicated. Strategy is about asking the right questions, having the right data and setting the right priorities. Those who take shortcuts on strategy are just lousy tacticians.

STRATEGIC PLANNING

  1. Determine the Business Objective
  2. Build a Business Case
  3. Identify the KPIs
  4. Identify the Necessary Programs
  5. Global Plan & Budget
  6. Strategic Creativity Alignment
  7. Determine the Tactics & Creativity Alignment
  8. Build the Conversion Funnel
  9. Specific Plan, Budget & Resources
  10. Execution, Metrics, Iterations
  11. Review

DATA

  • Program Maturity Audit
  • Media / Audience  / Touchpoint Ecosystem Audit (owned, earned, bought – analytics)
  • Competition Audit
  • Trend Analysis
  • Current Communication Portfolio
  • Social CRM
  • Conversion Funnels
  • Previous Campaigns Metrics & Lessons Learned

TACTICS

  • Contests
  • Email based
  • Display ads
  • SEO/ SEM
  • Blog
  • Social content
  • Microsites
  • Mobile apps / advertising
  • Social advertising
  • Facebook app
  • Point of sale (physical)
  • Event
  • Affiliate
  • PR
  • Stunt
  • Guerrilla
  • etc

How Deep Is Your Love? or About Building Advertising Business Cases

Sometimes communicating is repeating. So here we go again trying to make an argument for building business cases in advertising. (You might know that I’m a big fan of P. Drucker’s down to earth and common sense business approach.)

MEASURE IN ORDER TO MANAGE

Any business operation must be measurable. Including advertising. But I’m not talking about putting numbers on a pretty dashboard.  Those actionable KPIs must always be the result of a specific business case.

A business case is a simple walk-though justification of the business objective that generated the advertising operation.

As a digital business planner you need to learn to help your clients to derive the right KPIs from their business objective. This is why it is imperative that you start by defining the right business case. (You can see an example of a business case here.)

CLEAR BUSINESS OBJECTIVES

Some business objectives are easier to measure than others. (more on business objectives here)

For instance: increasing sales, increasing the customer satisfaction can easily be supported by very simple KPIs (e.g. from 12% to 18%, etc).

However, some advertising objectives sound as if they came from a graduate level social engineering course: e.g. Changing consumer behaviour

Whenever faced with these kinds of demands, we can always translate them into a specific business objective. Exactly how do we want to change the consumer behaviour? By how much? etc.

After analysis, you should be able to define the value to be created by the specific business objective. The business case will present a path to profitability if that business objective is attained.

EXAMPLE: A CLEAR BUSINESS OBJECTIVE

Business objective: Increase from 7% to 14% the use of a smartphone while watching TV.

Reasoning for the business case: By increasing by 100% our customers’ use of smartphones while watching TV we can increase their engagement with the brand by 10% and also the download of our custom TV watching app by 200%.
The 10% engagement increase will generate $X in customer loyalty and decrease in attrition rate by 3%,  +4% social media equity and +5% in customer recommendations, etc. This will result in a cumulative revenue increase of $YM over the next 3 years.

You always need to know why you are doing a specific operation and analyze all the pertinent details.

Once the Business Objective is set up we follow the previously discussed process:

Business Objective -> Business Case -> KPIs / Metrics -> Program Maturity Model -> Prerequisite Programs -> Planning

So the conclusion to take away as an advertising planner is that you should always be able to justify your advertising initiative with a business case. And that business case has to support the business objective.

Next I’ll talk about Data and Digital Strategy.

I’mma Let You Finish: A Digital Business Planner Sequence

Magic mirror on the wall who's the digital plannerest of them all
Magic mirror on the wall who’s the digital plannerest of them all

Digital Business Planning Review

So far I’ve been trying to make the following points:

  1. The digital / social media planner and strategist role must have a very strong business component (metrics, analytics, and general business model understanding).
  2. Any strategy must support a business objective with clear KPIs
  3. Plan for one business objective at a time
  4. The above KPIs must result from a business case
  5. The execution of a business objective is subject to a series of prerequisite strategic programs

Simple Sequence

Business Objective -> Business Case -> KPIs / Metrics -> Program Maturity Model -> Prerequisite Programs -> Planning

Case Study

From the previous example:

Business Objective

Increase the Customer Recommendations by 20% in the next 12 months.

Business Case

Customer base: 600 000
Customer annual value: $1 000 (Annual revenue $600 000 000)
Customer annual net profit: $200 (Annual profit $120 000 000) (20%)
Customer annual churn: 30%
Current recommendation rate: 20%
Recommendation conversion rate: 50%
On average a customer recommends 2 people.

A 20% increase in recommendations (from 20% to 24%) = 4% increase in total recommendations at a 30% churn rate, both cumulative over 3 years = 53.5K customer years

So the increase program will generate in net profit of $10.7M over 3 years.

Determine a budget based on previous programs. Say $1.7M over one year.

KPI / Metrics

Increase by 24K new consumer recommendations for a $1.7M budget.

Program Maturity Model

Determine the maturity level by assessing the quality of current digital programs.

Let’s assume the client program review reveals the following programs maturity:

Digital business model and objectives – Level Advanced (needed Advanced)
Digital analytics & monitoring – Level Basic (needed Advanced)
Digital and social media framework strategy and implementation – Level Advanced (needed Advanced)
Social media policies & governance – Level Advanced (needed Advanced)
Community building and engagement – Level Basic 8% (needed Advanced 12-15%)
Social CRM – Level None (needed Basic)

Prerequisite Programs

Based on previous analysis here are the necessary programs needed to execute the business objective in a single strategy.

  • Implement a more advanced digital analytics & monitoring solution
  • Increase the community engagement from 8% to 12%.
  • Implement a Social CRM

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Now you’re ready to do the planning. And you have 3 new programs to implement…. And only $1.7M… Get ready to build more business cases and negotiate.

You cannot commit to the required business objective with deficient prerequisite programs. 

More soon. Would love to hear from you, does this make sense to you?

A Case-Study in Building A Digital Strategy :: Business Objectives + Data & Insights + Programs

Saying it doesn't make it so. Results do.
Saying it doesn’t make it so. Results do.

This is a post about the importance of numbers and data when doing strategic planning.

We’ll look into :
– How to Calculate the Investment in your Business Objective Based Marketing Program
– What data we need to gather in order to create a successful digital plan and strategy
– The Programs that could be associated with this business objective

A FICTIVE CASE STUDY

Say the board of a mobile company decides that one of the business objectives is to Increase the Customer Recommendations by 20% in the next 12 months.

Assume the we are talking about direct and influent recommendations (for instance as a response to a personal query “Do you like your phone? Should I buy one?”; a mere Facebook like won’t be considered a recommendation). Also this is not an exercise in online ads (ppc, etc.). We stay focused on the business objective.

SOME BASIC FICTIVE DATA

Gather all the  necessary business data. 

Customer base: 600 000
Customer annual value: $1 000 (Annual revenue $600 000 000)
Customer annual net profit: $200 (Annual profit $120 000 000) (20%)
Customer annual churn: 30%
Current recommendation rate: 20%
Business objective recommendation rate: 24%
Recommendation conversion rate: 50%
On average a customer recommends 2 people.
4% increase in recommendations results in 2×2% increase in new clients (24K).
At a 30% churn rate over 3 years we end up with 24K+16.8K+11.8 = 52K

Calculate for the new Customer recommendations + respective churn, cca 1.5K

So the increase program will generate in net profit about 53.5K consumer years or $10.7M over 3 years.

Say invest 20% of the potential profitability. That will generate an additional investment of 1.7M/year in the Recommendation program for a $9M profit. (I would keep this number for now and adjust it once the exact operations are determined. see Programs).

KPIS

Determine the KPIs

20% increase, from 20% to 24%
12 000 more customers to recommend the product to an average of 2 people
24 000 new customers

Investment $1.7M
Estimated net profit: 9M.

Of course assuming that profitability, consumer churn, recommendation rate and conversion stay the same.

REVIEW

In conclusion: 
We have 600K consumers
120K will already recommend the product
We need to get 12K more existing consumers to recommend and we have $1.7M ($142 per recommending customer or $71 per recommendation).

OWNED MEDIA CHANNELS

Gather more data by listing all the current owned eco-system.

Facebook page 100K fans (98% customers) with 8% engagement (8K fans interact every month)
Customer newsletter 20K subscribers with 20% open rate (4K customers)
400K print invoices / month + 200K electronic invoices
300K website visits from existing customers over the year (50% will come to the website)
50K Twitter followers with 2% engagement rate (1K)
40K have the mobile app
20K in store visit from existing customers.

EXISTING MARKETING CALENDAR

Analyse the existing marketing calendar and media plan.

Q1 & Q3 Digital & Social media engagement campaigns
Q2 Digital notoriety campaign
Q4 Global all platforms new product launch
Monthly social media contests / campaigns (by topics: Customer care, Client recommendations incentives, FB community building, etc)

IT’S ALL ABOUT DATA

Ask the right questions. Get more data.

Having the right data is crucial. Any answer the following questions has the power to change the digital strategy.

Do we know who are the customers who already recommend?
Do we know what the customers who make recommendations have in common? (product, service, customer experience?)
Do we know to whom they are recommending the product? (friends, family, etc?)
Are the customers who make recommendations proportionally represented over social media?
Can we assume that 20% of the 8K who interact on Facebook already made a recommendation? Or are they more around 40%?

STRATEGIC CONSIDERATIONS

Once the right data is gathered the strategy writes itself.

Understand the target audience (the consumers who haven’t recommended the product yet, but are very disposed to do so)?
On what channels are they most active?
Create the tools / mechanisms for them to quickly recommend should they want to
Develop a value proposition
Tailor a creative advertising solution
Determine the types of operations  / campaigns
Integrate them in the existing marketing calendar
Set up a monitoring solution
Plan for at least one or two cycles (to have an opportunity for improvement)
Execute, monitor, optimize

PROGRAMS

Determine if you have all the prerequisite programs in place.

I have started the post by defining the business objective to Increase the Customer Recommendations by 20% in the next 12 months. Now we want to attach some of the previous programs to the business objective.

What are the prerequisite programs that the client needs to have in place before tackling this objective? It all depends on what digital properties will play a role. However some of them are pretty essential.

Digital business model and objectives 101 – having a digital business model, objectives, business cases
Digital analytics & monitoring 101 – determine the reporting format, and the necessary data to collect and analyse
Digital and social media framework strategy and implementation 101 – determine and implement the optimal digital eco-system
Social media policies & governance – produce, legally approve and publicize the policies, terms and rules
Community building and engagement 101 – develop monitoring, operations and content plans to build the social media community and its engagement
Social CRM 101 –
have implemented a social CRM solution that along with the digital analytics and monitoring system will provide the proper strategic insights and support the campaigns 

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This post went a bit too long and I hope you were able to follow. I have left out a bunch of small details and consideration, however I hope it was insightful.  Looking forward to your comments.

The NeverEnding Story: Digital & Social Media Programs

Fostering creativity, $2K at a time
Fostering creativity, $2K at a time

This is the second set of note regarding the social media framework I’m building with Rock&Social.

In the previous post we have defined Business Objectives, now we want to define a set of digital and social media Programs that will be used to answer specific objectives. In a subsequent posts I will link specific business objective with a series of tracks, and later on detail each track from a planning perspective (timelines, budgets, strategic impact, etc.).

Following is a list of digital programs (in no particular order). The 201, is a more advanced version of the 101 and usually has several other programs as prerequisites. Essentially, the goal of this framework is to create an easy model of detecting digital planning solutions to business objectives.

See the programs as iterative projects (or operations), in need of regular monitoring and update in order to attain the business objectives.

DIGITAL AND SOCIAL MEDIA PROGRAMS

Digital business model and objectives 101, 201
Optimize the business model to include the digital and social opportunities. Determine the business objectives, metrics, success business cases and acquire business leaders’ approval. Approve the budget and the roadmap to attain the determined business objectives.

Social business culture 101, 201
Determine the roadmap for creating a social business culture

Digital planning and social operations 101
Determine how the digital and social objective will be accomplished – internal operations, external operations, budgets, planning, etc.

Social media policies & governance 101
Create the social media policies and regulations, legal approvals, determine the stakeholders, etc.

Digital analytics & monitoring 101
Get the right tools and procedures in place – determine the reporting format, create a crisis plan, stakeholder analysis

Digital and social media framework strategy and implementation 101, 201
Ensure all the digital is strategically connected and optimized

Sales funnel 101
Set up sales funnel strategy and tools, include the digital and social to the existing sales funnel.

Build community 101, 201
Determine the community platform (FB, forum, subreddit), community building tactics, promotional, newsletters, convert current consumers, community value proposition (push&pull)

Build community engagement 101, 201
Content planning, community management, tactics and metrics

Advanced sales based operations 201
POS, Event, Mobile, FB, e-commerce tactics

Likeliness to recommend 101, 201
Determine the factors that influence the likeliness to recommend, implement the proper tools, and develop the communication program to increase L2R.

Social brand awareness building 101
Determine the factors that influence the brand awareness, benchmark against competition, monitor and implement the necessary advertising campaigns to build awareness.

Customer social support 101, 201
Build the customer support processes and implement a technological solution, provide a training program.

Social CRM 101
Create customer relationship objectives, procure and implement a technological solution, provide a training program.

Create a social media department
Validate the business needs, plan, fund, build a social media department.

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The previous programs are examples meat to create a better understanding of what it takes to attain a specific business objective. More in the following post.

Keeping It Classy: Business Objectives For Digital Planners

Keeping it classy
Keeping it classy

The rapid evolution of digital and social media technologies over the past 10 years generated a dilution of goal of strategic planning in this space. Very often communication and technology professionals take the role of what should be a business discipline. For the past year we have made a conscious shift at Rock&Social to focus almost exclusively on business services and less on basic communication.

I am currently preparing a detailed framework of digital planning. The goal is to present a formalized top-down approach; from the business objectives to the communication tactics. Over the next couple weeks I will post bits and pieces of my research and work-in-progress.

Following is a list of business objectives that should guide the business digital planning. (in no particular order)

WHAT IS YOUR BUSINESS OBJECTIVE?

Optimize the digital business model
Metrics: build several business cases that prove the viability of using digital opportunities

Build a targeted social media community
Metrics: increase the size of the bull’s eye community (specific number, benchmark on competition, etc).

Increase the social community engagement
Metrics: increase in the community engagement (a series of KPIs like: mentions, interactions with the brand over the social space, call-to-action conversions, etc)

Increase my business’ social awareness
Metrics: increase the number of positive mentions (specific number, benchmark on competition, etc).

Develop a social customer support solution
Metrics: Successfully implement a customer support solution, optimise the operations, train the team, etc.

Increase sales
Metrics: Increase the sales using the new and existing sales funnels (specific number or interval)

Create a social media department
Metrics: Successfully create the departments’ business model, recruit, train, and operate until becoming independent the said department.

Implement a social CRM
Metrics: Successfully implement a social CRM that takes into account the existing customers and the social community. Use this CRM to drive other business objective as to increase sales, return sales, customer engagement, likeliness to recommend, etc.

Increase the likeliness to recommend
Metrics: Increase the likeliness to recommend (over a specific period of time to a specific number, benchmark on competition, etc).

Become a social brand
Metrics: Successfully build an engaged community, strong brand equity and be overall recognized as a social brand (specific KPIs for several variables including mentions, community engagement, likeliness to recommend, benchmarks against competitors, social sales improvements, etc).

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These are only a couple of business objectives that should guide the thinking of any business leader and digital planner before any communication tactic is deployed. Looking forward to your comments.