Original Research

Who’s who in the zoo? Clarifying the difference between the chief digital officer and chief information officer

Theunis van Niekerk, Carl Marnewick
South African Journal of Information Management | Vol 26, No 1 | a1670 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v26i1.1670 | © 2024 Theunis van Niekerk, Carl Marnewick | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 February 2023 | Published: 29 February 2024

About the author(s)

Theunis van Niekerk, Department of Applied Information Systems, College of Business and Economics, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Carl Marnewick, Department of Applied Information Systems, College of Business and Economics, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa

Abstract

Background: The new chief digital officer (CDO) role within top management is shrouded with confusion and ambiguity.

Objectives: The purpose of this study is to identify the differences between the traditional chief information officer (CIO) and more modern CDO role.

Method: Being grounded within the paradigm of interpretivism, this study follows a qualitative research approach and adopts a narrative research strategy. This study explores the opinions of top management relating to both CIO and CDO roles through conducting in-depth interviews with open-ended questions. Insights into the data are gained through an analytical process of thematic content analysis.

Results: This study shows that distinctions are emerging between the roles and responsibilities of the CDO and CIO roles within companies. Even though both roles are strategic, the CDO is responsible for digital strategy, while the CIO is responsible for the information technology (IT) strategy.

Conclusion: This study illustrates that IT is becoming central to a company’s business model and this focus change requires specific skills and competencies within the company. Furthermore, the study shows that differences exist between the CIO and CDO roles within a company.

Contribution: This study highlights key differences between the roles and responsibilities of the CDO and CIO. This study also identifies key contingency and institutional factors that influence a firm to introduce a CDO and clarifies the concept of digital transformation.


Keywords

chief digital officer; chief information officer; roles and responsibilities; digital transformation; digital strategy; IT strategy.

JEL Codes

M10: General; M12: Personnel Management • Executives; Executive Compensation; M15: IT Management

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Metrics

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Total article views: 571


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