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Digital Disruption Drives Total Business Transformation

Digital is changing business as usual. And changing government as usual. And higher ed as usual. Whether you’re Timex, the State of Georgia, or Oxford’s SAID Business School, interacting with the public is rapidly changing and evolving. As organizations struggle to transform, digital strategists of many descriptions and titles are appearing on the scene to help devise strategies and achieve major organizational goals in the evolving digital environment.

Chief digital officers, and more broadly digital strategists, are tasked with paving the way for innovation in the ever-changing landscape of digital disruption. Research firm Gartner, Inc., predicts a quarter of all US companies will have a Chief Digital Officer by 2015. Searches for CDOs are up by a third according to the headhunter firm Russell Reynolds. It’s as if the board of directors at hundreds of companies decided in 2012 to issue the call far and wide for a digital messiah. But whether your brand is in the market for a CDO, the need for someone to lead digital strategy is crucial to organizational success.

And that need shows no sign of diminishing. The sense that no organization is a safe from having the rug pulled out from beneath their feet as digital changes the way we interact is one of the key reasons the position of CDO has appeared on the scene.

Here is a quick survey of some key CDOs in place today in the private, public and non-profit sectors. Following them on Twitter or keeping an eye on their work is probably the best demonstration of the CDO role in practice.

Rachel Haot, Chief Digital Officer of the City of New York. It should come as no surprise that under the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the city of New York was one of the first, if not the first public organization to appoint a Chief Digital Officer. The impact has manifested itself in the city’s use of digital media, particularly social media, to interact with the citizens of the city. Other cities around the world have followed New York’s example. Haot came to the position after founding a digital consulting company and being involved with a number of digital startups in NYC.

Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer of New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sreeniasan, a former TV newsman, co-founder of the South Asian Journalists Association, he was a professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism before becoming Columbia’s first CDO. He blogs for CNET.

Adam Brotman, Starbucks. One of the more prominent and earliest CDOs, Brotman is an experienced technology executive who came to the global coffee giant from Corbis and a career as an eCommerce entrepreneur and attorney. Brotman’s portfolio of responsibilities include the company’s mobile, web, eCommerce, social media, customer loyalty and data driven CRM marketing, the Starbucks card and app, in-store digital experience and new business development.

Vivian Schiller, Twitter. The former Chief Digital Officer at NBC News, Schiller left the broadcaster in the fall of 2013 to join Twitter as the executive in charge of relations with the news media. At the time of her departure from NBC, a spokesman said the CDO role may be phased out. While at NBC Schiller led NBC News Digital and the network’s presence on the web and across multiple mobile device platforms. Her career has been focused in media and included stints as President of National Public Radio and Senior Vice President at New York Times Digital.

Sona Chawla, Walgreens. Chawla doesn’t carry a CDO title but is the President of eCommerce at the pharmacy chain, Walgreens, coming to the post via Dell, where she was VP of the Global Online Buiness, and Wells Fargo, where she was the EVP/SVP of the bank’s Internet Services Group. A techie by training, Chawla came to the forefront of digital through a masters from the MIT Sloan School and a BA in math and comp sci from Wellesley.

For every digital strategist, the objective is different, but there's a common theme throughout each role: brands today are seeking new and innovate ways to engage with consumers through digital.

If you'd like to learn more about ways digital strategists are handling the changing business landscape in a time of constant disruption, read more here!

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