Why London needs chief digital officer

With uncertainty in the air and Brexit on the horizon, will demand for chief digital officers spike this year?

London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced his intention to appoint the capital’s first chief digital officer (CDO) today. With Brexit on the horizon, will demand for this role spike this year?

Ten years ago, the job of CDO simply didn’t exist. Even as late as 2013, there were only 500 CDOs across the globe. The ‘digital’ aspect of organisations was also something that was split across multiple people, says Dale Lovell, CDO and UK MD of international adtech company, ADYOULIKE.

However, with the world increasingly adopting a ‘connected’ lifestyle, with little downtime from their digital devices, the role is now essential, not only for companies but also for government and regional authorities.

“The Mayor is right to highlight that transforming the capital into a ‘smart city’ is a critical need in the coming years. London’s incoming CDO will be tasked with radically transforming how the city does business and the role will be focused on helping to pioneer new technology sectors, encouraging collaboration and adopting common standards around data and service transformation,” says Lovell.

“To really achieve a ‘smart city’ status with the aim of growing and building London’s reputation as the city that the world looks to for leadership in urban innovation, the Mayor needs to encourage a digital first mindset. That means agile ways of thinking, future-proofing public spending on new projects – with digital infrastructure planned in – and also encouraging and launching initiatives for all businesses and organisations within London to embrace digital.”

According to Lovell, the single most important factor for the success of this role will be the CDO’s ability to be flexible.

“With the uncertainty of Brexit far from over and an environment of ever changing technology, London’s CDO must be able to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances while putting London’s best interests first,” he explains. “The next ten years will see a rapid digitalisation and automation of many key services; with public expectation around the services they receive increasingly built around digital infrastructure. It’s a big challenge to change London, but one that needs to happen now.”

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

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