Chief Digital Coach – key position for digital transformation

As companies continue to grapple with unavoidable digital transformation and the concept of becoming more digital and (I would argue, by definition) more customer-focused, I tend to recommend three fundamental principles that should be established in the company:

  1. the boss needs to walk the talk
  2. nominate a senior level digital evangelist who is credible in front of the business managers (i.e. has managed a business unit)
  3. create a roadmap such that, rather than have 1 person be 100% the digital dude (or dudette), 100% of people in the company become 10% digital

digital transformation, the myndset digital marketing and brand strategy

The boss who walks the talk

I have written frequently about the need for the executives to improve their digital IQ… A boss who walks the talk means someone who, at a minimum, has become more savvy about the myriad apps that can aid one’s professional and personal life on the mobile, on the tablet.  Without being digital, it is truly impossible for a senior executive to be understand the new form of communication and the subtleties of earned media.  If the boss doesn’t incarnate the change he/she is looking to see happen inside the organization, it is hard to take the digital transformation — even inscribed in an annual report — seriously.  As a baby step, and there should be no surprise, here: I suggest the boss get started by setting up a Twitter account.  {Click to Tweet}  A perfect opportunity for some reverse-mentoring, recruit a Tweeto within the organization to help get the top executives started, creating an appropriate profile/bio, setting up relevant lists, etc.

A credible evangelist & coach

Identifying (and recruiting) the Chief Digital Coach is no easy task.  There is the profile, the attitude, the competency, the fit with the CEO and within the company culture, the fit with the geeks…  The reporting structure, the mandate (roles and responsibilities) and support staff are of strategic consideration.  The Chief Digital Coach must be able to inspire two populations: the operational business managers as well as the more digitally savvy people (within and outside the company).  Typically, this means the person has had experience managing an operational business unit, thereby understanding intimately the P&L, customer relationship, distributor negotiation, etc.   And, it goes without saying, the Chief Digital Coach must be actively on/in the more important social networks.  I would also argue that their presence should demonstrate their convictions.  Having hierarchically important individuals leading by example is a key facet of any digital transformation.

Everyone should be (at least) 10% digital

Digital has a way of touching virtually every aspect of the company.  In any event, even if the impact is not direct, there are indirect implications for everyone.  Digital is not just a set of “virtual” or internet-based tools, it’s a mindset.  A digital transformation is as much a change in mindset as it is a new way of doing marketing, CRM, sales, etc…. {Click to Tweet}

Your reactions are welcome!

  • @fabella


    I like the start with Twitter account. I did it with my daughter as an easy and quite safe media to start and listen, and I did it in my digital marketing course. It is the easiest way to touch social media and increase "social IQ".

    About the evangelist, I think it will be hard to find the perfect profile inside the company, saying one business manager and a strong social user (Klout >40?). A guy coming from outside may be the solution, but what about the credibility?

    I totally agree about the 10%. It is the same than digital IQ for CxO. Let or make everyone touch and experience social. Then let the virus spread across the minds and organisation.
    But digital is not only social, it is also allowing change, new ideas and above all, errors.

    About your message displayed, there is no opposition. You must have 1 dude (or dudette) 100% responsible AND 100% of people in the company become 10% digital.


    My recent post Il y a 7 milliards de médias. Changez de paradigme.

    • Minter Dial

      Great points @Frederic. I love the idea that it is you who is helping your daughter… to build her Digital ID?

      Interesting idea to add the Klout score or some other influence measurement metric…

      It’s true that trying to find that type of profile within the company is extremely difficult. It’s not bed of roses outside the company either. The profile is inherently rare. Much less a person who has a proven track record. I look at those criteria more as a wishlist. As with any search, it will require some level of compromise.

      Absolutely, digital is more than social. It is also more than marketing.

      As for your point that it is not one or the other, you are entirely right. I put that up more as an attempt to establish a vision, a philosophy. In reality, both are essential. At the senior level, the CDC is there to render digital strategic and to help the senior team with the integration.

      • @fabella

        You are right ! I am teaching digital to my daughter, while I am telling everybody that past and parents are not references and that kids are teaching them the new world.

        I need to thing about that ;-)

        My recent post Il y a 7 milliards de médias. Changez de paradigme.

        • Minter Dial

          The past! Oh yes: our school training doesn't exactly meet the criteria — thus goes the value of a digital diploma.

          Within business, the concept of reverse mentoring isn't guaranteed to work though, unless the younger collaborators are appropriately guided (and sufficiently knowledgeable themselves).

  • Ore

    That's good. We're just missing the difference with a "community manager." The need to comprehend the strategy and the medium-term ambition (eg big data, understanding the client or a digital first strategy with the customer relationship…. Increase value, loyalty, better customized/individualized responses…)

    Thus, the concept these days of the Chief digital OFFICER at the ExCom or the Chief data OFFICER .
    That said, the culture of the company and the ownership of digital by the entire company is key. You're right.
    And the role model.

    • Minter Dial

      Hello @Ore,

      The question is posed as to the role & responsibilities of the Chief Digital Person (CDX)… And, indeed, the role must be placed at the strategic level, in order to establish the best blended business vision and strategy at the ExCom level. Such a person must be able to stay up with the technological advances, understand how they might impact business and then figure out how to bake into the vision.

      As for the title, Officer makes the title more noble, indeed. If that’s what it takes, then I’m in favor. On the other hand, I think Chief Data Officer risks sounding more like a technician…

      And, yes, the person must embody the digital spirit/state of mind… acting and being digitally savvy, coaching the peers at the ExCom table and a role model for the managers.

      They say in French, a 5-legged sheep. Perhaps the term might be appropriate with regard to this position, too?

  • Christophe

    I like the acronym CDC, add an 'A' and you get ACDC (my kids don't know that hard rock group).

  • seofirst

    Digital Marketing is now necessity for your business marketing and advertisement. Start up with basics and then to learn as to how you can connect better with your customers.

  • Christophe

    I like the "digital coach" title a lot. Thank you for sharing this. Very inspiring!

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