Number of Chief Digital Officers Doubled in 2013; Seven CDOs Became CEO and Four CDOs Became Board Directors

Talent Map CDO Growth

Talent Map CDO Growth

Who would have thought the famous Moore’s Law on the exponential growth of computing power might also apply to Chief Digital Officers?

Well, perhaps it could.

According to the latest deep research conducted by the CDO Club, the number of Chief Digital Officers in 2013 doubled again in one year—just as it has been doing since 2005—to a total of 500.

And the CDO Club is conservatively projecting that number to double again, to some 1,000 Chief Digital Officers by the end of 2014.

CDO Club founder David Mathison

CDO Club founder David Mathison

CDO Club founder David Mathison shared these and other findings as part of his CDO Talent Map 2014 keynote address at the second annual Chief Digital Officer Summit held at the Time Warner Conference Center on April 22–23 in New York City.

Other highlights included the expansion of Chief Digital Officers into new sectors and additional countries, and—for an increasing number of CDOs—a fascinating career trajectory taking them from CDO to CEO and even to Board Directors.

Demographics, Sectors, and Industries

A few things about CDOs haven’t changed much since last year’s Talent Map (see 2013 Talent Map presentation here).

CDOs are still overwhelmingly white, male, and primarily seasoned professionals between the ages of 30 and 49. Their salary range remains in the $250,000 to $750,000 range.

CDOs UK by Sector 2014

CDOs UK by Sector 2014

Globally, CDOs were predominantly represented in the advertising sector, at 36% (though down from 40% in the previous year). That industry was followed by media at 18%, publishing (13%), nonprofits and municipal (10%), and financial (8%).

CDOs by sector in the U.K. can be seen in the accompanying chart.

The past year also saw new growth in sectors not well represented in the previous year. These growing “long tail” industries include retail, cosmetics, fashion, and food and beverage.

For example, Sephora, L’Oreal, Benetton, and McDonalds all hired Chief Digital Officers in 2013.

As for geographic representation, while North America still has the most Chief Digital Officers—68%—that percentage is down from 88% in 2013. And significantly, among the 250 new CDO hires in 2013, the majority happened in other parts of the world.

In fact, today Chief Digital Officers can be found literally around the world, in countries such as Argentina, Lebanon, Qatar, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, and Vietnam.

Top 10 CDOs by Country and Per Capita

European Chief Digital Officer hires, in particular, exploded in 2013, and now represent 23% of all global CDOs (up from just 7% in the year before), with hires in countries ranging from Austria to the Czech Republic to Switzerland and more.

CDOs by Raw Numbers and Per Capita 2014

CDOs by Raw Numbers and Per Capita 2014

In addition, a total of 6% of all CDOs are located in Asia, 2% in MEA, and 1% in South America.

On a country-by-country basis, CDOs are found most frequently in the U.S., followed in second place by the U.K., Australia and Spain (tied for third place), France and Italy (tied for fourth), and then Germany in fifth place.

Interestingly, though, the rankings change when looked at on a per-capita basis. In this case, the number one country is Finland, followed by Australia, the U.S., Singapore, and then the U.K.

Another CDO on the Rise: The Chief Data Officer

Chief Data Officers Worldwide

Chief Data Officers Worldwide

For the first time, the CDO Club decided to track an additional critically important and emerging digital title—the Chief Data Officer. The 2014 Talent Map identified 197 people holding that title, and projects that this number will grow to 250 by the end of the year.

Mathison explained to participants in the New York Summit that while that title is new, the position of managing an organization’s data assets is not new—it’s just that in the past that person might have held the mantle of “chief analytics officer,” “chief data scientist,” or other similar title.

The Chief Data Officer-type title was first employed in “digital native” companies like Google, Amazon, Netflix, and Yahoo!—these were the early, fully digital firms that generated mountains of data, which they then needed to analyze to make timely business decisions.

Forbes: "Don't let a CDO steal the best part of your job"

Forbes: “Don’t let a CDO steal the best part of your job”

In 2003, Cathryne Clay Doss of Capital One bank was the first person hired with the actual title of Chief Data Officer. The role expanded rapidly in banking and financial services during and after the 2008 global financial crisis, and could also be found in data-intensive, regulated industries such as insurance, medical, and pharmaceutical.

Today, Chief Data Officers can be found in many more sectors, including Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), retail, small business, and government.

Particularly government.

For, with the growth of open-data initiatives, an increasing number of municipalities have either hired, or will soon be hiring, Chief Data Officers.

And municipalities are hiring Chief Digital Officers, too.

Rachel S, Haot

Rachel S, Haot, Chief Digital Officer at the State of New York

Subsequent to Rachel S. Haot’s being named Chief Digital Officer of the Year at the CDO Summit in April 2014, Boston’s mayor announced that he would be looking to appoint a Chief Digital Officer.

In addition, not only did New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announce that he would be replacing Haot (she was former Chief Digital Officer for New York City, and is now Chief Digital Officer for New York State), but he promised he would also consider giving the role a budget and headcount—an indication of the importance of the position in his administration.

Mathison said that the CDO Club will continue to track the emergence, characteristics, and trajectory of the Chief Data Officer, just as it has been doing for the Chief Digital Officer.

Chief Digital Officers Taking Their Places as CEOs and Board Members

One finding in the 2014 Talent Map stood out as particularly noteworthy—the ongoing career trajectory of CDO to CEO. In 2013, seven Chief Digital Officers rose to the position of CEOs.

What’s behind this phenomenon?

Mathison told the audience that he did some digging this year to find out. He looked closely at the backgrounds and skill sets of Chief Digital Officers in several key sectors—particularly advertising and media—and discovered that 60% of CDOs in advertising and 30% of those in media already had experience as a CEO, President, GM, or Managing Director.

What this means is that many Chief Digital Officers already have had in-the-trenches experience running companies and also had P&L responsibilities—so they are ready and well positioned to become a CEO.

For more on this, see “What’s Driving the CDO to CEO Career Path?

Another sphere of influence where CDOs are making headway is in the boardroom.

In 2013, four CDOs became board members. Rob Norman (Global CDO at GroupM) and Jonathan Miller (former CDO at the News Corporation) both joined the board of BBC Global News.

And Jim Barr (EVP and CDO at OfficeMax) joined the board of (the digital division of National Retail Federation) and Bruno LeClair (CDO at TC Media) became a board member of IAB Canada.

And, subsequent to Mathison’s presentation in April 2014, just last week Starbucks CDO Adam Brotman joined the board of Neiman Marcus Group.

But despite the phenomenal growth in both Chief Digital (and Chief Data) Officers, it appears—oddly—that the majority of corporate boards still lack digital depth.

“Do You Have the Digital Leaders You Need?

“Do You Have the Digital Leaders You Need?”

In his presentation, Mathison shared two recently published articles, one from the Harvard Business Review titled “Do You Have the Digital Leaders You Need?” and the other, reported in the U.K. Telegraph, which was headlined “British Boardrooms Suffering from a Digital Deficit.”

Both articles raised the same problem: Corporate boards lack the digital leaders they need to help their companies excel in this new environment.

The Harvard Business Review reported that only nine companies—less than 2% of the Fortune 500—have boards that are considered to be “highly digital.”

Similarly, the Telegraph article revealed that only three companies on the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 have three or more tech-savvy board members.

“This is crazy!” said Mathison.

The reason it’s crazy, Mathison explained to the audience of Chief Digital Officers, is that “there is so much digital talent right here in this room.”

He told them that the CDO Club is dedicated to helping digital executives engage in networking and skill development so they can be identified by corporate boards and named to help fill that digital deficit gap.

Mathison is also committed to helping CDOs outside North America.

On Monday, May 12, 2014, Mathison will deliver the opening keynote at Digital Oxford Week in Oxford, England, where he will reveal, for the first time, statistics on the state of the Chief Digital Officer in the U.K. and and other European countries.

This includes the per-capita figures cited above, as well as a sector analysis and a first look at compensation figures in local markets.

Mathison will also provide many more details about the data collected in the 2014 CDO Talent Map at the inaugural U.K. CDO Summit, which will be held on October 29, 2014, at the BBC in London.

For more information, or to register for the inaugural U.K. CDO Summit, visit:

David Mathison: CDO Talent Map 2014

David Mathison: CDO Talent Map 2014

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If you are tasked with understanding what digital leaders must do in order to succeed in almost any industry, the best place to learn more is at the fast-approaching NYC Chief Digital Officer Summitpresented by Capgemini on April 29 2015.

Take advantage of our Super Early Bird Discount for Amsterdam in September 2015, London in October 2015, Sydney in February 2016, and Toronto in July 2016. Reserve your place now:

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NYC 2015 Speakers:

Jessica jo

Dr. Didier Bonnet
SVP and Global Practice Leader
Capgemini Consulting

Jessica Federer
Chief Digital Officer

Jo Ann Saitta
Chief Digital Officer
The CDM Group

Johanna Murphy b02a4bc429cd7238f2590a5442987374_400x400 332789d

Johanna Murphy
CMO & Digital Director
Ivanka Trump

Sree Sreenivasan
Chief Digital Officer
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Sumita Singh
Senior Vice President
Marketing, Corporate Markets

The CDO Summit is the “must-attend” digital event of the year. The 2013 and 2014 CDO Summits received stellar endorsements from dozens of speakers and attendees alike:

“Sometimes a conference comes along that hits the trifecta – hot topic, high-caliber attendees, and stellar location. The first Chief Digital Officer Summit reached that mark with ease, and I look forward to attending the next one.”

“The Chief Digital Officer Summit was outstanding. Why? Candid panels with top players in the digital community. Splendid break-time conversations. And, savvy facilitation, Mathison Style.”

“David, here’s a handy C^3 test for conference value: Did I learn at least three new perspectives? Check. Did I meet at least three interesting people? Check. Did I take back at least three relevant pieces of news I can use? Check. Flying colors for the Chief Digital Officer Summit 2013! Thank you so much, and yes, I’d be very pleased to participate next year!”

“Congratulations on an exceptional first CDO Summit. I truly enjoyed all the panel discussions as well as the intimate environment where I was able to meet such amazing people. The conversations were very enlightening and touched on all the challenges my team and I face on a technology, content, and culture front. I look forward to participating next year.”

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