The new class of digital leaders

A growing number of companies have embraced the need for strong digital leaders. Explore PwC's latest findings on the new class of digital leaders.

Faced with organizational challenges, more and more companies are hiring an executive to manage their digital transformation. This PwC report looks into the chief digital officer (CDO)’s role and includes in-depth interviews with CDOs from leading industries.

Global key findings:

  • Nineteen per cent of companies analyzed have a designated CDO, or equivalent. This is a significant increase compared to just six per cent in 2015.
  • Sixty per cent of the digital leaders identified in the study have been appointed since 2015.
  • Forty per cent have a C-level position. Out of the C-suite members, 67 per cent have the title chief digital officer.
  • Thirty-two per cent of CDOs have a technology background, a significant increase since last year (14 per cent).
  • Such trends, as noted above, reflect the movement at many companies toward a state of more advanced digital competence.
  • Thirty-eight per cent of companies based in Europe, the Middle East and Africa have a CDO in place, followed by North America with 23 per cent.
  • When implementing a digital strategy, the new class of CDOs often encounter several major obstacles:
    • ad hoc digital initiatives spread throughout a large organization, lacking central oversight
    • a traditional culture that resists change
    • a gap in the talent required
    • legacy systems and structures that threaten to derail their ambitions