A recent article in the Huffington Post posed an interesting question: what drives digital transformation – technology or strategy? Is it technology innovations which determines businesses success in a digital economy or is it the strategies devised to harness these technologies which lead to a competitive digital business? As the article goes on to argue, both technology and strategy work in tandem however there is an increasingly crucial dependence on ‘digital leaders’ those with technical expertise and ability to drive overall business strategy and meet businesses goals. Businesses are increasingly hiring Chief Digital Officers and Chief Technical Officers to drive business strategies, fuel growth and remain competitive.

It is argued that all businesses must digitally transform to succeed:

“Digital transformation is the process of shifting your organisation from a legacy approach to new ways of working and thinking using digital, social, mobile and emerging technologies.”

The need to compete digitally isn’t just within the technology industry, it is across business in all industries, and more and more businesses are realising their growing need for digital talent at executive levels. The Huffington Post article, discusses a recent study by MIT Sloan and Deloitte which emphasises the importance of digital leaders in devising the right strategies and creating digitally transformed businesses. The article argues “digital leaders are those who unite the CEO, CIO, and the CMO through their knowledge and vision of what it takes to make a digitally transformed business a reality.”

Similarly, The 2014 Gartner CEO and Senior Executive Survey found business are ill equipped to make deep technology enabled business changes and that means digital leaders will be responsible for closing a big gap in understanding, by educating the board, executives, senior and middle management layers to the huge range of digital opportunities. When questioned on which area they would look to hire talent, it was digital marketing which was the most in demand, followed by ecommerce and customer service management. The roles which harness digital to meet customer demands are holding greater power at an executive level. Enigma People Director David Mains agrees businesses are starting to recognise the need to listen to those closer to their digital minded consumers and are incorporating this talent into their senior level teams. In a recent article SEO TO CDO: Why you need a Digital Marketer in a top position within your business. David discusses the growing demand for digital talent from all business that rely on generating revenue as a result of their web presence. Although the article focuses on the growing importance of the digital marketing function it also relays the serious need for businesses to employ people with digital experience in very senior positions within the company who are able to understand, scrutinise and support the digital behaviour of customers and have the authority to make deep changes:

“To succeed in an ever-increasing digital world you have to be prepared to move fast. Someone needs to be able to make quick decisions to allow businesses to have a first mover advantage when opportunities present themselves. To do this you need someone who has a certain level of authority and is able to cut through all the red tape that often exists within businesses.”

As a specialist technology recruitment partner working with businesses across the UK, we are increasingly seeing senior positions created for digital talent such as Senior Digital Project Managers, Digital Producers and Digital Communications Managers. Econsultancy’s Salary Survey 2015 found that the role of Chief Digital Officer now surpasses the average salary for CMO’s and the number of roles created globally has doubled every year for the last 5 years, with a predicted 25% of companies to hire a CDO by the end of the year. Competition for these skills has already become stiff with businesses already struggling to recruit available talent with the right experience they are looking for. We suspect the demand for talent with digital skills who have the ability to drive businesses growth will continue to rise, possibly reaching levels similar to what we are currently seeing for software talent in the UK. The digital sector in Scotland is experiencing incredible levels of success and is continuing to grow, fuelling an estimated 11,000 new jobs in 2015 according to the annual Technology Industry Survey carried out by ScotlandIS, how many of these are at executive levels remains to be seen.

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