Organizations including Sears, Starbucks, Harvard University, the City of New York and many others have hired CDOs, says David Mathison, founder of the Chief Digital Officer Club, where current and would-be CDOs can find training, job opportunities and more. Their goal? To improve efforts in digital content promotion, a motive shared by CDOs from Forbes, Columbia University and elsewhere, who described to Computerworld how they go about helping their companies take advantage of their large digital resources.
CDOs by the numbers
According to estimates from CDO Club founder David Mathison, the top three kinds of companies hiring CDOs today are advertising agencies, publishers and broadcasters, while the biggest growth is being seen in the non-profit sector and state and local governments.
"When I started tracking this two years ago, there were 75 CDOs worldwide in major organizations," says Mathison, who curated the first-ever CDO Summit last February. "Today there are hundreds -- more than 300 at most recent count."
Mathison started tracking CDOs in August 2011 while working at the search firm Chadick Ellig, and he has continued his analysis via conversations and interviews with corporate executives and by reviewing hundreds of resumes and online profiles.
That research, plus data from CDO Club members, indicates that salaries for a Chief Digital Officer range from $89,000 to $600,000, depending on the business sector and location, with the median falling between $250,000 and $300,000, he says.
"A lot of company leaders really don't understand digital very well," observes Calkins Media CDO Guy Tasaka, who has more than two decades of experience in advertising, strategy and planning, circulation and marketing for media and startup companies. Tasaka, who reports to his company's CEO, says chief digital officers "should have the future vision in mind and not be constrained by the technical or architectural limitations of the current company."
He elaborates, "CIOs and CTOs don't look at the core business. They look at the technology for technology's sake." As the CDO, Tasaka says, "My responsibility is public-facing technology, the mobiles, the online and everything that we are doing going forward. I won't do anything unless there is a revenue strategy and a sustainable revenue model. My job is to separate what will help Calkins strategically from what is just a shiny object that's cool."
Forbes Media: Building audience, increasing revenue