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Digitally transforming any company requires the creation of new roles, alongside the development of new skills and ways of working. And while DX projects need specialized leadership to help realize the maximum benefits, that doesn't mean having to hire a slew of new executives or middle managers.

Instead, what's required is a shift in the organization's mindset, especially at the executive level, that expands the possibilities for every role in the company. This can drive a broader, more collaborative approach to everything from resource deployment to recruitment. Executive teams that embrace and drive digital adoption outperform comparable enterprises in both revenue and valuations by nearly 50%. And when DX efforts are led and prioritized by top leadership, the implementation is significantly more likely to succeed.

Narrow thinking about organizational roles can needlessly limit the scope of a digital transformation. Executive teams looking to maximize the benefits DX can provide must lead the way by embracing transformation within their own roles.

The CEO: Minding the gaps

The benefits of a successful DX extend broadly, impacting everything from revenue to brand sentiment to employee turnover. Because the CEO has a bird's-eye view of the organization, they are in the best position to advocate for (and ensure) broad alignment with the project.

Alongside identifying the business targets and strategic concerns behind the DX, a CEO must make the case for change while modeling the cultural and perspectival shifts needed for effective implementation. They don't need to have a sophisticated understanding of the tech behind the DX to push organizational change and enable cross-departmental alignment, but they do need deep domain and institutional knowledge. Cultural change will further reinforce the value proposition the DX enables, and highly visible involvement by the CEO can set the tone for that culture change and bolster confidence in the project among both internal and external audiences.

The CTO: Steering the implementation

Though much of the CTO's role in DX will have taken place in the research and evaluation phase, it does not stop there. This role, once limited to evaluating the pros and cons of emerging technologies, becomes pivotal in steering the organization's processes through a successful transformation. The CTO's purview now includes developing new digital strategies and finding new opportunities to link business processes to DX tools.

Apart from designing the DX project, selecting the appropriate enterprise business software tech stack, and overseeing many of the logistical aspects involved in the implementation of new technologies, the CTO will also play an essential role in motivating employee adoption for new initiatives and technologies. And because the technology that's used for work plays a huge role in the employee experience, the CTO needs to closely collaborate with HR to understand employee sentiment and drive retention.

In close conjunction with the DX evangelizing/marketing team, the CTO is also particularly well-placed to spot and solve managerial concerns before the project begins. And addressing these concerns is key, as 70% of DX projects fail as a result of managerial resistance. By working with the implementation team to drive the message about the benefits automated solutions can provide for management, employees and customers alike, the CTO plays a vital role as technological cheerleader.

The CFO: Watching the bottom (and top) line 

CFOs might not typically be labeled visionaries, but when it comes to successful DX, they need to be. By forming a deep understanding of the organization's current technology stack and what the changing digital landscape is going to require, the CFO becomes empowered to build systems that manage risk and foster financial resilience. They have a vital role to play in the DX evaluation and vetting process, and that process feeds back into their primary goal of mitigating organizational risk.

Because the CFO focuses on multi-month and multi-year operations, they can come to a DX project with the kind of long-term thinking that drives successful transformation. This role holds the knowledge to discover new, sustainable streams of revenue and growth opportunities made possible by DX, while an effective DX implementation gives the CFO a fantastic opportunity to automate and consolidate their reporting processes for more precise analysis and BI.

The CMO: Delivering the message

The digital marketing landscape changes by the minute, with new channels, new algorithms, and new technologies constantly disrupting the status quo. With an increasingly tech-savvy and surveillance-sensitive audience, this means that CMOs are also contending with evolving laws and shifting consumer sentiment surrounding data collection and privacy.

In this environment, the CMO plays a pivotal role in DX by leading the broader conversation on improving the customer experience, and working to ensure organizational alignment around that goal. This entails serving as an internal cheerleader for the improvements DX will bring, from new data-driven insights that can improve every aspect of CX to automation and streamlined processes that will do the same for the employee experience.

In conjunction with the CTO, CEO, and DX evangelism team, the CMO must drive internal messaging about the value of the larger project. Good digital transformation begets more DX, so the CMOs job isn't "one and done" when it comes to the internal messaging. As the footprint of the DX expands and the challenges of adoption impact additional teams, the CMO must foster ongoing conversations about the realized and potential benefits DX is bringing to employees and customers alike.

The CHRO: Making it personal

DX will accelerate shifts that are likely already in progress at most HR departments. While HR departments are usually associated with "people processes" rather than technology, DX success depends upon collaboration between the implementation leaders and the CHRO.

Naturally, DX will drive a need for upskilling and retraining, to set employees up to perform new or revised roles. This is one area where the implementation team will need to closely work with HR to manage the internal pipeline and determine what methods of training will prove most effective. And since retention is largely linked to the employee experience, the CHRO will now have the deep analytics essential for shaping a data-backed vision for future of work.

Going forward, the challenge of attracting talent with emerging digital and technological skills will create an opportunity for the HR department to spearhead close inter-departmental communication about the organization's new needs and roles. The need to source and anticipate the company's future workforce means today's CHRO has to be as attuned to emerging market shifts and technological innovations as a CEO or CTO.

Building the C-suite of the future

DX offers opportunities for improvements not only in revenue and customer experience, but also in organizational processes and structures. While some DX implementations will rely on new C-suite positions such as CIO, CDO, and various forms of BISPOs (business information and security officers) in order to maximize the impacts of the DX, the greatest transformations are likely to occur in organizations that take the opportunity to reshape the resources they already possess.

Executive teams are already equipped with the skills needed to drive DX success. Whether that success is realized is highly dependent on the ability of the C-suite to reimagine their roles beyond the traditional—becoming evangelists, visionaries, and technological strategists both internally and externally.

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