The importance of a Chief Digital Officer & the outsourcing option

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Jacob, a blogger at Silas Notes and staff member at Silas Partners highlights a blog post that “discusses the need for a Chief Digital Officer, someone who is concerned with all the digital communication of your organization.”

These are considerable responsibilities. It’s a bigger job than “webmaster.” It requires both broad vision and technical insight. It’s a role that must challenge existing silos and old habits. It requires interaction with all other parts of your organization. It’s a role for a champion. As such, it’s a senior position, reporting to the top.

Having worked in the online world since 1999, it amazes me that this is the first time I see this so well articulated! I’m seeing a growth of professionals who know how to walk in both worlds, but at the same, I still see so-called “internet experts” who are technology neophyte. Ignoring the importance of this role can be costly to a company and to a non-profit.

I liked how Jacob used the post to sell his employer’s services. I have to agree with him. If you can’t afford your own full-time staff, outsourcing is the way to go. If you don’t know who to hire, outsource. There are plenty of “experts” out there that don’t know what they are doing, and will waste you money. Sometimes, when in doubt, outsourcing can provide you with the hands-on experience to better grasp the needs, before you go out and bring right person on staff.

The most striking part of this position is how it moves among the silos that many organizations create. I see us doing that more and more with our clients. We are “hired” by the marketing department, but by the end of the project we have helped to put together and lead a number of cross-functional teams.

The part that is often missing is the “reporting to the top.” Often we are one or two levels removed from the ultimate and/or strategic decision makers and that is frustrating.

Overall I’m hopeful that more organizations realize the digital communication is not just a way to do what we used to do faster and with more bells and whistles, but a new way of doing things that requires specialized knowledge and management.

I have worked with TriNet Internet Solutions — the company that recently bought Silas Partners. They have a solid team of experts, and did an AMAZING job of helping Focus on the Family — a larger ministry — navigate through the process of getting a cutting edge media distribution platform developed and launched. It was the most enjoyable project I got to work on while working at Focus on the Family. (Note: last sentence edited for clarification)

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