Three-quarters of organisations don't have a chief digital officer (CDO) or someone serving in that capacity - and the vast majority of those don't intend on hiring one, either.
The 2017 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey found that 69 per cent of organisations had no CDO and no intention of hiring one, while six per cent didn't have a CDO but were planning to hire someone in that capacity.
Only one-quarter of organisations have a CDO or equivalent in place already, and their number is rising only slowly.
Between 2015 and 2016 there was only a one per cent rise, suggesting that the popularity of the CDO role, and of organisations believing they needed a 'digital leader' to help them transform, has reached a peak. However, there are now three times as many CDOs around as there were three years ago.
The survey found that more than half of large companies have a CDO in post - more than twice the average. But only one-fifth of those with IT budgets of less than $50m have taken the plunge to hire a digital leader.
"We think that large organisations recognise the need to co-ordinate digital activities across the enterprise to avoid duplication, leverage skills and experience, and exploit synergies," the report reads.
"Smaller companies, on the other hand, are much less formalised in their approach. Barely one-in-five have appointed a CDO. We suspect that they rely on their inherent nimbleness to address their digital challenges," it states.
A wide range of industry sectors saw rapid growth in CDO hiring over the past 12 months. This included sectors where the actual number of CDOs are relatively low. For example, there were big year-on-year jumps in utilities (11 per cent to 16 per cent), education (nine per cent to 18 per cent), energy (11 per cent to 18 per cent) and manufacturing (11 per cent to 18 per cent).
The biggest jump was in the broadcast and media sector, which had only 30 per cent of organisations with a CDO in 2016, but nearly half (46 per cent) in 2017. But there were also some industries which saw a fall in the number of CDOs - pharmaceuticals and the charity sector saw two per cent drops, while advertising saw a big fall from 43 per cent to 35 per cent.
According to Harvey Nash and KPMG, this could be because the advertising sector has digital as both a product and a source of disruption, and therefore the role of the CDO could be evolving differently.
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