Over the past nine months I've been interviewing chief digital officers and senior digital leaders across a variety of industries to gain insight into the emerging role of digital leadership. My colleague Martin Gill and I wanted to discover why firms hire chief digital officers and what they are responsible for — more importantly I was looking to discover what CEOs should be doing to set up their businesses for success in a digital world.
The initial findings from this research are published in "Chief Digital Officer: Fad or Future" (fee for non-clients).
One aspect of the research I'd like to highlight here is the need to think of digital as more than simply a bolt-on to your business. To create a digital business able to compete in the age of the customer, we need to think of building out a digital business ecosystem. I know what you're thinking — "not another ecosystem" — and yes, it's a very overused term, especially by consultants and analysts. But I simply can't think of a better term to describe the interconnected and codependent relationships needed in a fully digitized business (see diagram).
The simple truth is that very few businesses are currently thinking about digital as broadly as this, but I believe this is about to change. I started the year predicting 2013 would be the year of digital business, and this has proven true for digital leaders and agile startups. But for more traditional companies, digital business will happen in between 2014 and 2016.