Just six per cent of the world's top 1,500 companies have a chief digital officer, although Europe is outpacing North America

Hayley Kirton
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Of the chief digital officers actually out there, over 80 per cent have been appointed since 2012 (Source: Getty)

The world may feel like it has been drastically digitised but that might not be true as far as the boardrooms of some of the world's largest companies are concerned.

Research released today by Strategy&, PwC's strategy consulting business, has revealed that just six per cent of the world top 1,500 companies by revenue have appointed a chief digital officer (CDO).

For those companies which do have a CDO among their ranks, over 80 per cent of them have made the appointment since 2012.

In light of the findings, Ashley Unwin, head of UK and EMEA consulting at PwC, warns that companies need to step up their development of their digital approach, remarking: "Companies competing internationally must do more than simply align technology with existing business goals. Digital is all-encompassing and has the power to transform every aspect of the business, including the business goals themselves.

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"So it’s incumbent on companies to appoint CDOs who proactively help to drive the creation of business strategy - and lead that process if necessary."

Martin Roets, a London-based principal at Strategy&, added: "The CDO’s job is to steer the company through an era of mass disruption in every aspect of its external relationships and internal operations.

"This is an immense challenge, but as the roles become more defined and successes emerge, the concept of the CDO will move rapidly from the large global undertakings to the SME sector."

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Perhaps surprisingly, it's not North America that's leading the way. Thirteen per cent of the companies with headquarters in Europe had a CDO on their team, compared to just seven per cent of those in North America.

"While we haven’t yet witnessed the rise of a European Google, it is encouraging to see major European businesses lead the way in creating senior roles solely focused on digital transformation," said Unwin.

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