Bask Iyer, CIO of VMware, once told me about the \u201cCEO missing-out syndrome.\u201d It goes like this:\n\n\nMost CEOs really like their CIOs. \u201cMy CIO is great,\u201d they say. \u201cShe has kept costs down, has secured our enterprise, and runs a highly available infrastructure. In fact, she has done everything I have asked her to do since I hired her five years ago. However, I feel like I\u2019m missing out. What with all of that innovation coming out of Silicon Valley,\u201d these CEOs worry, \u201cI must be missing out on some really cool digital disrupter that my competitors have surely discovered.\u201d\n\n\nCEOs who suffer from the missing-out syndrome do one of three things:\n\n\nThey anoint their CIO, formally or informally, as head of innovation and charge her with charting the company\u2019s digital future.\nThey fire their CIO and hire a new one who arrives all shiny with the promise of digital innovation.\nThey gently push their trusted CIO to the operational margins and hire a chief digital officer (CDO), someone with a background in marketing, strategy, or product development to build and drive a digital roadmap.\n\n\n\nThis last move can spell real trouble for a company, says Iyer. \u201cI\u2019ve encountered many CDOs who can talk a good game,\u201d he says. \u201cThey\u2019ve read enough about digital technologies and have used enough mobile apps to convince the CEO that they are the right digital leader for the company. They come in and everyone loves them . . . for about six months. But they don\u2019t really understand how to deliver technology change, so they flame out. A year later, they are gone, and it is the CIO who is left picking up the pieces.\u201d\n\n\nCurrently, the average tenure for a CIO is five years. This means that a company can reel from major IT strategy shifts (\u201cOutsource all of it!\u201d \u201cBring it back inside!\u201d \u201cOne turnkey solution!\u201d \u201cBest of breed!\u201d) twice every decade. That\u2019s a whole lot of change and a whole lot of money for an executive team to stomach. But CDOs, who arrive with their own list of technology investments, have tenures of eighteen months or so. They come in, set the strategy, and then leave before the ink is dry on their new vendor contracts. With two technology executives, each coming and going in a few short years, senior management winds up confused, frustrated, and farther away than ever from the promise of digital.\n\n\n\n\u201cIt appears we are experiencing a revival of a tried and failed axiom that the IT needs of a large enterprise are best served by the adoption of a joint technology leader configuration,\u201d says Bob DeRodes, who has served as CIO of Home Depot and Target. \u201cThis concept is best described as having one bright, energetic technology leader charged with inventing new \u2018digital\u2019 capabilities while the other IT leader (the CIO) oversees \u2018traditional\u2019 IT. Two IT leaders means two IT strategies, two IT architectures, and one assurance of high cost and low interoperability.\u201d\n\n\nWhat\u2019s more, chief digital officers are often really chief marketing officers (CMOs) who have boned up on digital technologies. But \u201cdigital\u201d is so much more than marketing. \u201cWe are so digital,\u201d some CEOs think. \u201cWe no longer use print ads; we advertise on social media now!\u201d But they are missing the point. Digital is not only a new way to market; it represents an entirely new operating model.\n\n\nDave Truzinski was named CDO a year after joining wireless provider NII Holdings as CIO. To him, a digital strategy is one that acknowledges that \u201calgorithms trump organizations.\u201d According to Truzinksi, \u201cFor years, we\u2019ve been taught that when we have a business problem, we can solve it by bringing teams together and that the more people we have, the more power we have. But that thinking is a byproduct of how organizations have evolved. People and processes create latency; algorithms create speed. In the digital age, we need to move our core business processes to algorithms. Imagine what would happen if we automated everything your back office teams did and then told them, \u2018Now that you are free of that manual work, spend more time thinking about your customer and driving top line revenue.\u2019\n\n\nMoving an entire organization from industrial thinking to digital thinking is a big job. We are talking about an operating model that has been with us since the nineteenth century that we are trying to change in only a handful of years. Does a marketing executive have the end\u2011to\u2011end process knowledge to bring digital to the back office? Can a career strategist tie a social media strategy to the messy quagmire of your infrastructure? Does a product executive have the broad influencing skills to change the way an executive team understands every facet of their business?\n\n\nI doubt it, and Bask Iyer does too. \u201cIn many instances, a company\u2019s most promising digital leader is the CIO,\u201d he says. \u201cDigital transformation is more than painting a shiny picture of the future; digital transformation means tying the back end to the front end, which CIOs have done over and over again.\u201d\n\nBecoming a digital leader\n\nA digital leadership void is afoot, which represents either a threat or an opportunity to the CIO. One viable option, of course, is to acknowledge the existence of your company\u2019s new CDO and develop a solid relationship with her or him. You have played this role in the past by partnering with sales, marketing, product, and the like. But, in the past, those partners have not been as involved in making technology investment decisions as the CDO is today. If your CDO is not in it for the long haul, then picking up after this new technology leader may not be much fun.\n\n\nYour other option is to see the void as an opportunity and step directly into it. Should you choose the latter path, you have work to do, especially if your CEO sees you as more operational than strategic.\n\nChange your mindset\n\nAaron Levie, CEO of the enterprise cloud company Box, places CIOs at the center of what he calls \u201cthe industrialist\u2019s dilemma,\u201d where companies that have been around for a while rely on big teams, lots of plants, and big equipment\u2014all of which become a legacy drag on innovation. This is true of CIOs and their infrastructure as well. \u201cThere is a tendency for CIOs to ask what assets they have and how to repurpose them for a new era,\u201d says Levie. \u201cWhen really, you have to do away with your legacy environments and vendors, if you\u2019re going to be competitive in this new digital economy.\u201d\n\n\nDigital leaders need a digital mindset, which is about much more than social media. If you simply must own all of your IT, and you need big teams to get things done, you may not be ready for a digital leadership role.\n\nGet strategic\n\nWe all know about Maslow\u2019s hierarchy of needs, which points out that we tend to take care of food and shelter before worrying about socializing and self-esteem. This goes for CIOs as well, who should not waste their time proposing digital strategy if email isn\u2019t working. Being operationally efficient merely serves as table stakes. \u201cSomeone once told me that, when your operations are not good, you should not talk strategy,\u201d says Iyer. \u201cFair enough. But the opposite is also true. If your operations are good, then you must talk strategy. You can always cut more costs, but you need to break off from an \u2018efficiency\u2019 way of thinking if you are going to evolve into this new leadership mode.\u201d\n\nStop serving and start leading\n\nFor years, we have been telling our IT teams that the business owns IT projects and that our job, as CIOs, is to support and enable. Sure, we can advise on IT investment strategy, but the business sponsor owns the outcome of those investments. If this is the message we are sending future CIOs, how can we raise a generation of IT leaders? How do we teach IT professionals to serve and to lead simultaneously? \u201cThe old story is, IT enables and supports the business, IT is in service to the business, the business owns the project and the job of IT is to deliver,\u201d says Iyer. \u201cThat\u2019s what we\u2019ve been telling our IT leadership teams for an awfully long time now. But if CIOs are going to step into a digital leadership role, they need to change that thinking.\u201d\n\n\nIyer thinks back to a CIO position earlier in his career when he and his team had some ideas for innovating on a major product. \u201cWe were so focused on operations, and so worried about the political backlash from moving in on the product group\u2019s territory, that we didn\u2019t bring our ideas forward,\u201d he recalls. \u201cIn retrospect, we should have played it differently because we could have made a significant difference for our customers and our business.\u201d\n\n\nYears later, Iyer is not making that same mistake. \u201cI don\u2019t need to have a business sponsor for everything we do in IT,\u201d he says. \u201cI always have two or three innovative projects going on in IT where I, as CIO, am the sponsor.\u201d\n\nAsk for the job\n\nDuring the year that Dave Truzinski spent as CIO of NII Holdings, he was vocal about the notion that digital engagement with NII\u2019s customers would be the only business model to survive in the future, and he was named to the digital leadership position. \u201cThe very fact that I had been named CDO signaled to the entire company that we have to move to a new business model,\u201d says Truzinksi. \u201cThe CDO title represented the recognition that we could no longer do business in the \u2018industrial age\u2019 way.\u201d\n\n\nFor Donagh Herlihy, the move into digital started during his interview for the CIO position at Bloomin\u2019 Brands, which runs Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba\u2019s Italian Grill, and other restaurants. During his executive committee meetings, \u201cthe conversation focused on the shifting world of restaurant technology, and how companies are trying to differentiate through digital,\u201d says Herlihy, now EVP of digital and CIO at the company. \u201cWe talked about how marketing, technology, and store operations have to work together to create and deploy digital solutions to deliver a great customer experience. And while collaboration between these groups is critical, we all felt that we needed one member of the executive leadership team to be on the hook for ensuring we had a holistic strategy, roadmap, and investment plan.\u201d\n\nGet to know your CMO\n\nWhile we can all acknowledge that digital encompasses much more than marketing, CIOs who don\u2019t have a great relationship with their CMO will not have much of a shot at the digital leadership position. \u201cHow do you know when the CIO and the CMO don\u2019t get along?\u201d asks Jay Ferro, CIO of the American Cancer Society. \u201cWhen the CEO hires a chief digital officer. The CDO role is a Band-Aid for two executives who can\u2019t get along.\u201d\n\n\nThis CIO\/CMO relationship business is new. Fifteen years ago, marketing was not IT\u2019s focus. IT grew up with finance, supply chain, and operations, while marketing went to their agencies for technology solutions. \u201cTo build a trusted relationship with your marketing function, you need to get out with your end customers,\u201d says Herlihy. \u201cWithout knowledge of your customer, it will be hard to gain credibility with marketing, and without credibility with marketing, it will be tough to move into a digital leadership role.\u201d\n\nMaking digital an enterprise capability\n\nYour operational house is in order, you are thinking \u201cdigital,\u201d you and the CMO are best buddies, and you have stepped into the digital leadership void. Whether you have \u201cdigital\u201d in your title or not, it is time to make digital an enterprise capability. This is not easy work. If you are like most CIOs, you see digital innovation happening all over your company. You are happy to see this activity, but you wonder how to wrangle it into a core enterprise strategy that can scale.\n\nThe digital center of excellence\n\nTo Rhonda Gass, CIO of Stanley Black & Decker, the $11 billion diversified industrial company, \u201cIT is no longer just about being the back-office provider or supporter of transactions. The world is so digital, we are now providing leadership in serving, winning, and retaining customers.\u201d\n\n\nTo provide that digital leadership, Gass and a business unit president have jointly created the \u201cdigital accelerator group,\u201d which identifies opportunities for digital products and processes across the entire company. \u201cIt was important that the digital accelerator group not just be led by technology alone,\u201d she says. \u201cWe needed it to be run by someone accountable for delivering products to the paying customer, which is not something IT traditionally does. We need our business leaders to stop equating digital with technology and to understand that they need to develop digital capabilities within their own businesses.\u201d\n\n\nFor Dave Smoley, CIO of AstraZeneca, getting the company\u2019s business leaders to focus on an enterprise-wide digital strategy is a work in progress. \u201cThe reality is, we\u2019ve got pockets of digital activity all over the place,\u201d says Smoley, who has been CIO of the $26 billion pharmaceutical company since 2013. \u201cOur commercial business is focused on social and content creation, global medicine development is working with sensors and smart devices, oncology is looking at digital injection technologies, and we have multiple groups using digital to improve the patient experience.\u201d\n\n\nSmoley loves to see all of this focus on digital but, as of yet, sees only individual strategies. \u201cEveryone is chasing the same problem, but we are not talking to each other,\u201d he says.\n\n\nFor Smoley, the keys to bringing all of that digital innovation together are relationships and governance. \u201cWe need partnerships with the business so that we can assist in the identification and selection of technology, anticipate scale\u2011up opportunities, and enable a network of common interest that provides visibility to what each group is doing,\u201d he says. \u201cWe need to work with these teams to ensure that their digital activity lines up with our corporate strategy. We need policies, rules, and the ability to fail fast and learn. Our goal is not to control the innovation but to facilitate the networking that results in learning, faster success, and a core digital strategy.\u201d\n\n\nAs a precursor to developing a governance model to facilitate an enterprise digital strategy, Smoley led the executive team in a conversation about what AstraZeneca should be doing in digital. That conversation went well enough that Smoley took it a step further.\n\n\n\u201cI took the CEO and executive staff, and we spent a week in San Francisco,\u201d says Smoley. \u201cMy CTO and I hosted the trip. We met with a group of really interesting cloud companies, some with products and services specifically for the life sciences.\u201d\n\n\nAfter meeting with some bigger players, Smoley and his CTO curated a half day of meetings with startup companies. \u201cWe did speed dating with a bunch of healthcare-related technology companies, and our executives were completely blown away,\u201d he says. Some of AstraZeneca\u2019s leaders thought that the trip would be a waste of time. Why should they travel so far just to meet some technology companies? \u201cBy the end of day one, their eyes were as big as saucers,\u201d Smoley says. \u201cThey couldn\u2019t believe how much innovation was in the room. They said, \u2018We need to be part of this, and we don\u2019t have to do it all on our own.\u2019 \u201d\n\n\nFrom the goodwill created on the San Francisco tour, Smoley established AstraZeneca\u2019s first \u201cdigital center of excellence.\u201d To lead the center, he enlisted a marketing leader from elsewhere in the company who had both the customer perspective and some experience with systems implementation.\n\n\n\u201cThe digital center of excellence spans the whole digital strategy piece, including social, apps, websites, devices, sensors, data analytics\u2014all of it,\u201d Smoley says. While the center is a business construct that stands next to IT, Smoley\u2019s CTO is an official member of the group. \u201cI want to make sure we\u2019re having one conversation around what technology can and can\u2019t do, not two,\u201d Smoley says. \u201cWe want to avoid the scenario where there\u2019s the digital conversation and then there\u2019s the IT conversation.\u201d\n\n\nAstraZeneca\u2019s CTO has considerable responsibility in the digital center of excellence. He scans the horizon for new technologies; connects people across the business who are looking for technology solutions with the right VCs, IT staff, or IT vendor partners; and develops policies and standards around platforms and development.\n\n\nAs CIO, Smoley\u2019s responsibility is to get the center off the ground, select the right leader from the business to take it from infancy to maturation, and champion \u201cdigital\u201d as an enterprise-wide strategy. \u201cPeople have varying levels of urgency on digital,\u201d says Smoley. \u201cSome think we have other things to think about and can wait, and others believe we\u2019ll be left behind if we don\u2019t move now. My role is to facilitate the conversation and build the digital center of excellence model so we are informed and ready to take full advantage as opportunities present themselves. Digital is an emotional area and a new space. There are no clear roadmaps.\u201d\n\nThe CIO as digital communicator\n\nTaking on the role of the digital CIO involves more than bringing digital capabilities to your business. In a world whose employees and customers are becoming accustomed to blogs and YouTube and Twitter, \u201cyou have to be digital yourself,\u201d says Andrew Wilson, CIO of Accenture. \u201cYou need a leadership style that appeals to the post-millennials; you need to be good on camera.\u201d\n\n\nWilson differentiates digital CIOs from traditional CIOs. The digital CIO, says Wilson, is an orchestrator of a whole new supply chain of technology providers, a consultant who brings game-changing ideas to the business, and a new kind of communicator. The digital CIO is a role model for other executives still caught in legacy thinking, legacy operations, and legacy approaches to communication. \u201cCIOs can no longer sit there with an IT budget waiting for the business to make demands,\u201d Wilson says. \u201cTechnology is pervasive and always changing; the digital CIO should be the first to say, \u2018technology can do this in the business.\u2019 That is different from the past.\u201d\n\n\nSo, how does the CIO of a global company of more than three hundred thousand employees, many of them under the age of thirty, demonstrate digital leadership?\n\n\nFor Wilson, who spent more than twenty years running an Accenture business before he became CIO in 2013, digital leadership permeates everything he does, from organizational design to SDLC, to how he communicates to his organization.\n\n\n\u201cAs CIO for a company that employs a large number of post-millennials, I need to cultivate a brand that makes sense to that generation,\u201d Wilson says. \u201cSo, I do not write e\u2011mails; I produce TV shows.\u201d\n\n\nCIO Live is a TV show that Wilson broadcasts quarterly to Accenture\u2019s entire IT organization. It is shot with multiple cameras, on a set, and before a studio audience. \u201cImagine The Tonight Show with guests from the business and our senior leadership team,\u201d says Wilson. \u201cI open with a monologue that reflects on news headlines, some of the themes I am hearing from the Accenture marketing team, our critical measures of success, and key messages from our executive leadership. When we were launching an upgraded CRM solution and were about to relaunch our website, I talked about all of that.\u201d\n\n\nWilson might have a guest from the marketing team demo the new website or ask his DevOps lead to stand up, \u201cweatherman style,\u201d to walk through a new dashboard. \u201cThe PowerPoint is dead,\u201d says Wilson. \u201cDigital CIOs need to communicate with digital products.\u201d\n\n\nAccenture is a sprawling global organization where Wilson\u2019s guests may not be able to make it to the studio. \u201cThe head of our digital practice was good enough to join me, even though he was on vacation when I wanted him to be on the show,\u201d says Wilson. \u201cSo he participated on the big screen just over my shoulder.\u201d\n\n\nWilson doesn\u2019t stop with the TV show; he is turning CIO Live into a social media phenomenon within Accenture. \u201cBefore the show, people start tweeting that they are on their treadmill ready for CIO Live, and I post photos to my blog of me in makeup,\u201d he says. \u201cPeople across the company get together and watch the show as teams.\u201d\n\n\nCIO Live has been such a hit that Wilson has set up a virtual TV studio and green screen at home, which will enable him to broadcast more than four times a year. \u201cI call it Virtual Live, and it is linked to my blog,\u201d he says. \u201cThese are seven-minute vignettes where I interview members of the IT leadership team on topics of interest to the entire IT organization.\u201d\n\nConclusion\n\nThe chief digital officer role is transient. It is the byproduct of an executive team\u2019s surprise and confusion over their company\u2019s sudden transformation into a technology business. After nearly fifty years in IT, Bob DeRodes has seen the dual technology leadership movie before, in which one technology leader is charged with innovation and digital strategy and another oversees traditional IT. \u201cThe movie quickly turns into a horror picture\u2014complete with creepy actors, disappearing bodies, gnashing of teeth, and an all-too-unceremonious public beheading of the CIO,\u201d says DeRodes.\n\n\nIn the new era of IT, digital does not mean handing technology leadership wholesale to a new executive nor does it mean keeping it all to yourself. CIOs in a digital economy need to find ways to distribute technology strategy and innovation throughout the enterprise. When technology is the business, CIOs have a tremendous opportunity to write a different ending to the horror show DeRodes describes. This new movie tells the story of a different operating model, one that involves a major perspective shift and partnerships between the CIO and key business leaders, as, together, they make digital an enterprise capability.