Only 1 in 3 companies forecast need for Chief Digital Officer in next 2 years

“Ideal Chief Digital Officer is equal parts technology leader and marketer,” Says IIC Partners

NEW YORK, Sept. 13, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Organisations across the globe report they do not have a Chief Digital Officer to manage digital transformation or digital strategy. According to a survey of 501 global business leaders conducted by IIC Partners Executive Search Worldwide, 3 out of 4 survey respondents (76 percent) said they did not have a Chief Digital Officer in place to own their digital transformation strategy.

80 percent of senior executives stated that they believe investment in digital transformation within their organisation is very or extremely important to future success. In contrast, however, only a third of survey respondents said they plan to hire a Chief Digital Officer within the next two years.

Companies that do not have a Chief Digital Officer said the CEO, CIO and CMO roles serve as the primary leadership figures responsible for managing the vision and implementation of digital transformation, alongside their other responsibilities.

Ruth Curran, Managing Partner of MERC Partners based in Dublin and Global Chair of IIC Partners Executive Search worldwide commented: “Senior executives recognize the importance of investing in digital transformation for future success. However, as technology evolves and digital continues to disrupt business units and industries, a CEO who has primary oversight for this mandate will diminish their capacity to effectively manage the rest of the organisation and lead their teams.”

“Management of digital transformation is best directed by a devoted leader who can competently own and execute a comprehensive strategy.”

The survey found that respondents were divided when asked which functional background best qualified an executive to fill the role of Chief Digital Officer. 45 percent of executives surveyed said the ideal Chief Digital Officer should have experience within the Technology or IT function, while 43 percent said he or she should have a Marketing or Sales background.

IIC Partners Executive Director, Christine Hayward, commented on this divided perception: “The schism we are seeing in the ideal functional background of a Chief Digital Officer speaks to the hybrid nature of the role. He or she should possess an innate understanding of technology accompanied by a firm knowledge of employing digital transformation and strategy to support organisational growth. This cross-functional skillset will drive continued innovation and programs across the enterprise from a central visionary perspective,” Ms. Hayward said.

The survey also revealed the key responsibilities executives expect a Chief Digital Officer to manage, including:

  • Ensuring digital assets work across business units
  • Articulating the strategic vision to other leadership teams
  • Championing increased value through use of digital transformation

“The qualities sought after in a Chief Digital Officer are rooted in the softer skills of management,” said Curran. “A successful CDO must exercise and exhibit persuasive leadership tactics to garner the buy-in and support of other senior leaders across the organisation. Companies are not only looking for a candidate to identify valuable opportunities for digital transformation to work for the business, but lead through influence and instill confidence from other key stakeholders critical to its success.”

View the full IIC Partners report: The Rise of Digital Leadership 

About the Global Digital Transformation Survey

Over 500 senior-level executives completed an online survey during a six-week period in 2016.

  • 70 percent of respondents were at the C-suite or Managing Director level.
  • 250 respondents were from EMEA, 134 were from the Americas and 76 were from Asia-Pacific.
  • Survey responses came from 43 different countries.
  • 38 percent were from publicly held organisations, 41 percent were from privately-held firms, 8 percent were from family-owned businesses, 7 percent came from not-for-profit organisations, and 6 percent were from other types of business models.

About IIC Partners

IIC Partners ( is one of the top 10 executive search organisations in the world. The network of “Independent International Consultants” is made up of 43 independently owned and managed executive search firms representing 52 offices in 34 countries, all considered to be leaders in the geographic and industry markets they serve. Questions or comments can be directed to Thaddeus Andres, Senior Marketing & Communications Manager at

IIC Partners offers solutions in addition to executive search for digital talent advisory and leadership needs. IIC Partners’ global capabilities include organisational assessment, talent mapping and board consulting services to strengthen and elevate a client’s digital transformation strategy. For more information on our Technology, Digital Media and Telecommunications Practice contact Christine Hayward, Executive Director of IIC Partners, on