C-suite changes

Chief Digital Officer: Hot new tech title or flash in the pan?

Enterprises are tapping CDOs to monetize digital assets, but how will these new execs interact with IT? And will the hiring trend hold?

1 2 3 4 Page 3
Page 3 of 4

Columbia: Changing delivery of digital assets

At Columbia University in New York City, Sree Sreenivasan, a journalism and media professor at the school, also held the title of CDO beginning July 2012, reporting to the school's chief academic officer. His main responsibilities? To "address digital needs to be sure that the school is adjusting and morphing with all the changes that are happening" in the digital marketplace, he says.

Sreenivasan has been cataloguing and placing online two decades worth of media initiatives at Columbia (they used to send VCR tapes of classes to long-distance students in the late 1980s, he reports) and helping faculty, departments and schools learn more about online learning, along with social and digital media.

Sree Sreenivasan. Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art

Columbia has offered online courses for more than a decade and distance learning since 1986, but those efforts typically have been decentralized inside the various schools, Sreenivasan explains. The goal today is to build a single site where all the online material -- from individual courses to entire programs of study -- can be easily found.

"Education is changing," said Sreenivasan. "We need someone to be looking at it centrally. That's my role. We are now trying new things."

One such initiative is a third-party site called Coursera, where people anywhere can sign up to take online courses for free from top educational institutions around the world.

"Coursera is an example of a different approach -- we want to use it to learn how to improve the experience of our in-person classes, as well as reach out to the world," says Sreenivasan. "Our first three classes had more than 100,000 signups, and we have several ideas on how to take this further to improve the experience of our on-campus students as well as those in hybrid programs."

Doe-Anderson: Leading through digital disruption

At Doe-Anderson, the fourth-oldest advertising agency in the U.S., Joe Pierce has been the CDO since October 2009, reporting to the company's chief creative officer. In his job, he oversees whatever the company's clients want to do that's digital, including websites, banner ads, mobile apps and online advertising buys.

"Almost anyone you meet in the land of brand/digital marketing has a horror story they can tell you about the website that never worked, the app no one downloaded, the banners no one clicked on, etc.," says Pierce. "Usually, these horror stories stem from the simple fact that there wasn't a geek in the room who had the experience, wisdom, gravitas, mojo, trust, whatever you want to call it to steer the team away from risk and to keep the focus on the win."

To Pierce, this gets to the heart of what the CDO is all about. "You're a Sherpa. It's your job to get your client, or organization, to the top of the digital mountain as quickly and safely as possible."

1 2 3 4 Page 3
Page 3 of 4
  
Shop Tech Products at Amazon