News UK CTO Christina Scott has said that the role of the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) has a limited lifespan, and that its presence could indicate a lack of digital skills amongst some CIOs.
Speaking to V3 recently, Scott explained that every part of the modern business needs to be au fait with digital, not just the IT team.
"If you have a CDO you have to question whether your CIO has really adapted to the times. I don't see it as a separate job. Everyone has to be more digital, the marketing department too. Having a CDO is perhaps covering gaps in the leadership team."
So if a CDO is just for the transition period to a digital way of working, does that mean that the role's days are numbered? Scott believes so, stating that "the CDO role has a finite lifetime."
She added that her organisation has no need for a CDO, explaining that the publisher is already comfortable with digital.
In Scott's view, CDOs are only required at firms for whom digital is a new initiative.
"I don't want a CDO," said Scott. "For me a CDO is advantageous where you have a company which really doesn't get digital at all. To allow digital to work [in such places], you need to break it off and put it on the side as a new thing."
She added that this is exactly what happened when the BBC launched News Online, describing the initiative as originally just "seven people in a cupboard". She also drew on her experience at previous employer the Financial Times, where she was Chief Product and Information Officer.
"The FT broke off FT.com, then brought it back in later. It's great in organisations where legacy [systems and processes] would just slow digital down too much."
However, evidently Scott feels that News UK is sufficiently comfortable with digital that no CDO is required.
"We're much more progressed, we have lots of digital products, and digital revenue," she added.
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