What does a CDO actually do?

What does a CDO actually do?

The CDO identifies future markets and ensures that the company remains competitive and adapts to changing markets. Find out more about the job description of a Chief Digital Officer.

What does a CDO actually do?

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What does a CDO actually do?

The Chief Digital Officer, or CDO for short, is a fairly new job title and is rarely found in Germany. The CDO is responsible for digitization processes and strategies in the company – often even at board level.

What does a CDO do?

The CDO drives the digital transformation in the company and ensures that all employees are taken along on this path. In Germany, for example, Media-Saturn, ProSiebenSat. 1 and Gruner + Jahr on a CDO. His tasks include developing a digital strategy and promoting networked, digital work. He should look at all company processes and check where they can be optimized and digitized. The digital strategy can include, for example, increasing the share of sales via online channels over a fixed period of time, but also developing a uniform platform for customer data and customer services.

No second CIO or CTO

The chief digital officer is not a substitute for the CTO or the CIO. He takes on tasks that neither a CIO nor a CTO can simply do on the side. He identifies future markets and ensures that the company remains competitive in the years to come and adapts to changing markets. This sometimes includes a wider perspective than what a CIO brings with him as a well-trained IT specialist.

The profile

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The CDO can, for example, come from the fields of business or economics, marketing, IT or product development. In terms of suitability, the most important thing is what practical experience the candidate has. He needs data understanding, courage, leadership qualities and persuasiveness. In an interview with Stefanie Waehlert, Chief Digital Officer at TUI Germany, the Start-up scene is published, the CDO describes the perfect candidate as an all-rounder with extensive experience in e-commerce as well as in mobile environments. In addition, he should have been responsible for and further developed various digital business models himself. Business administration know-how is the basis, but also the basic technical understanding to interact with the CIO and to be able to formulate the requirements for IT. Initial experiences with transformation processes are also helpful.

Who does a chief digital officer work with?

The CDO works primarily with corporate management. Since he is not only a strategist and initiator, but also actively participates in the implementation of the planned measures, he also has a lot of contact with department heads. In contrast, the CDO has little or no customer contact.

The salary: how much does a CDO earn?

The salary depends heavily on the size of the company. Since until now almost only very large companies have employed a pure CDO and this is usually employed at board level, the annual salaries here probably start in the lower six-digit range.


The CDO has to compensate for any missing digital competence of the executives. His suggestions can lead to major upheaval in the company, which may not be right for everyone. Therefore a seat on the board is necessary. He has to know how to deal with skeptics, involve people and be able to convince them.

“You shouldn’t let a CDO steal the best of your job,” writes a consultant Forbes.com and with its appeal is aimed at CIOs and CTOs who may feel that the digital officer has restricted their area of ​​responsibility.

Need a new job? You can also find vacancies as a CDO and many other career opportunities on, for example t3n.de/jobs.

In the series “What is actually doing …?” We regularly introduce you to a digital profession with its tasks, requirements and challenges. You can find all parts of the series here.


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