Do chief digital officers spell trouble for CIOs?

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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. About 20% of CIOs have already taken on digital officer duties, according to Gartner. For example, CIOs at the construction company Brady Corp. and clothier Burberry recently expanded their roles that way. In many more cases, however, the CDO is an executive from outside the company--and outside IT--who parachutes in at the behest of a CEO who is adamant about corporate transformation. Usually reporting to the CEO, the CDO gets the authority to rearrange staff and request funding to launch big plans. (See " So What Does a Chief Digital Offcier Do All Day?")

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