By Dr. Martin M. Lwanga
Popa Cola Ltd, was a decade old company, currently engaged in the feisty and competitive beverage war of Cola supremacy. Soon after he had taken over as CEO, Gyagenda started familiarizing himself with its organization structure. He was aware the last CEO had been fired because the company was losing out in the Cola wars for supremacy, with sales stagnating.
When Gyagenda was asked what strategy he was planning to engage, if hired, to help the company take on the better known traditional Cola giants, he did not hesitate but quick back: “I will use a digital strategy to popularize our products!”
“Digital strategy!” the elderly Board chair had expressed mild surprise. Besides him was a copy of mainstream daily papers and a file stacked with paper.
“Sir,” Gyagenda turned to him. “The world has entered the digital age. This means our way of doing things must be by engaging digital tools weather it is managing our human resources or reaching out to customers.”
Impressed, Gyagenda, was appointed as CEO. Soon after going over the organization structure, he called up Helen, the Human Resource Director.
“Who oversees digital matters in this company?” Gyagenda wondered. “I have noticed we have an ICT Director, but I wanted to know who is directly responsible for leading the company’s digital strategy.”
Helen pointed to a junior officer quite down at the bottom of the organization’s pecking order. Gyagenda was not impressed. “I am directing we start a restructuring of the organization,” he said. “A position I want to see elevated to top management is that of a Digital Director!”
“We already have an ICT Director,” Helen noted.
“I saw that,” Gyagenda noted. “I am not talking about heading ICT infrastructure acquisition and management, which most of those guys do. What I want is to see someone here oversees the use of digital tools to develop and promote our business!”
Few would argue that in the post COVID- 19 pandemic age the digitization of the way of work is a foregone conclusion. Even as workers return to office from home, a certain number will continue to divide their time between home and office. Customer behaviour has also shifted where an increasing number of consumers rely on digital tools not only to get acquainted with new products but also purchase them.
In this new climate organizations must have a digital strategy at the heart of their operations. A chief digital officer is charged with helping organizations use digital information and new technologies such as cloud, mobile and social media, to create business value. For some it means helping them move from analogue to a digital business model.
Why this cannot be a junior position anymore is because it involves major changes to an enterprise’s technology architecture, business processes, products and job roles. Take the example of a print newspaper or bank whose customers are increasingly shifting to digital mediums to access their products and services. There is an obvious need of who leads this strategy.
Among others a Digital officer is expected to help the company grow brand loyalty on social networks. The officer will help develop new digital revenue streams while working across the enterprise to break down data silos, engender a digital culture and build a digital business technology platform. For example, one such officer helped the organization become a “paperless office.”
The best fit for this role is usually someone with a good ICT technology background, of a lower age bracket as opposed to senior due to being conversant with these mediums and, certainly with marketing skills.