Do Chief Digital Officers Spell Trouble for CIOs?


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CEOs are hiring hotshot chief digital officers to run strategic, customer-facing operations such as online sales. Is this good news or bad news for CIOs?

When consumers wanted movies, TV, music and other media to be online and on mobile devices, entertainment companies started recruiting chief digital officers (CDOs) to transform their businesses.

Now the brisk hiring of CDOs and similar executives in other industries, including manufacturing, retail, food and financial services, leaves CIOs wondering where they stand. Contemplate too long, though, and you could be sidelined.

Twenty-five percent of companies will have a CDO in two years, Gartner predicts. In the past year, the number of employment searches for CDOs in the United States has grown by one-third, says recruiting firm Russell Reynolds. Some CIOs will get the job, no doubt.

So What Does a Chief Digital Officer Do All Day?

The week before Christmas found Scott Durchslag, Best Buy's top digital leader, experiencing his first holiday shopping period as a retail executive. Every morning he combed through online sales figures from the day before, adjusting plans for the day.

As it happens, his boss, Stephen Gillett, submitted a surprise resignation that week and Durchslag, unperturbed, absorbed some of those duties, including oversight of all marketing. The youngest office manager in McKinsey's history, Durchslag had learned to expect the unexpected while in previous jobs as president of Expedia Worldwide and COO of Skype.

Best Buy Trying to Give Customers That 'Aha' Moment

The top digital exec at Best Buy has the hard job of making today's retail systems produce the shopping experience of the future

Scott Durchslag, president of online and global e-commerce at Best Buy, talks of reshaping the company's processes, habits and mind-set for a new objective: to be a digital, omnichannel retailer that puts customers first.

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