Within the C-suite, various titles are designated for IT and Technology leadership, notably the CIO (Chief Information Officer), CTO (Chief Technology Officer), and CISO (Chief Information Security Officer), although the latter is less frequently included in the Executive Board. Traditionally, the IT manager reports to either the COO (Chief Operations Officer) or the CFO (Chief Financial Officer), depending on the focus of IT support—primary or supportive processes. The emerging roles of CDO (Chief Data Officer/Chief Digital Officer) further diversify executive responsibilities.

The evolution of technology within organizations unfolds in three distinct phases: Automation, Information Technology, and Digital Services. Automation, prevalent from the 1960s to the 2000s, centered around central computers (mainframes) automating data-rich processes in banking, logistics, etc. Skills revolved around programming, logic, and mathematics, often recognized by distinct lab coats.

The Information Technology phase emerged with personal computers in the 1970s, gaining traction in business by the mid-1980s, accelerated by the maturation of the Internet, e-mail, and Office Automation by the early 2000s. This era diversified with decentralized client-server applications, requiring investments in data centers, networking solutions, and portable devices, transitioning from lab coat-clad mainframe engineers to versatile enthusiasts.

The Digital Phase began notably with the advent of the iPhone, signaling a shift in delivery models and culminating in cloud platforms. Cloud services, more centralized and standardized, facilitate digital service delivery to businesses, reducing reliance on in-house IT management while necessitating end-user skills for optimal utilization, bridging IT and business management into the business’s digital transformation.

The Chief Digital Officer’s role revolves around governing, directing, and managing these digital services from both IT and business perspectives. The CDO’s mandate isn’t just aligning IT to business but integrating IT into the fabric of the business for comprehensive success.

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