Do companies need a chief digital officer (CDO)?
“Disruption” – that is to say, the replacement of an existing business model or an entire market by an innovation – is not uncommonly associated with the phenomenon of digitalisation. We only have to look at Internet companies from Silicon Valley to see how new technologies have turned whole industries upside down. The list is a long one: Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, PayPal, Tesla, Google.
One thing all these companies have in common is that none has a board member with the title “chief digital officer”. Digitalisation is not a departmental responsibility, but something written into each division’s DNA. According to one survey1, only 2% of German companies with more than 500 employees have a CDO.
In fact, digital transformation should not be “outsourced” to a department. The entire top management should have a deep understanding of what drives digitalisation, and its impact on their own segments. Each company must judge for itself whether it falls short in this respect.
If it does, a CDO can close the gap by bringing his knowledge and digital expertise to the company, making digital strategy an integral part of the corporate strategy, and actively driving the change process forward. In the end, disruption through digitalisation only becomes an opportunity if all areas are involved in the transformation process.
In this issue of Update magazine, Dr Jan Spelsiek explores “digital DNA” and what it means for Allianz Global Investors. A key finding is that digitalisation doesn’t let the grass grow under its feet, and nor do we as a company.
A study by Michael A. Osborne and Carl Benedikt Frey shows that hardly any sector is untouched by digitalisation and/or automation. This edition contains an interview by Hans-Joerg Naumer with one of the two authors. Carl Benedikt Frey is in no doubt: the digital revolution is in full swing, and will fundamentally change our society.
An article by Gunnar Miller explains how disruptive trends affect portfolio construction. Thematic investments will play a greater role in future.
I hope you find this issue of our magazine informative and thought-provoking.
Steffen Lanzinner, Global Head of Digital Transformation and Head of Business Management EMEA, Allianz Global Investors