If you are considering a digital transformation, one of the first questions to ask is, who do I need to involve?

More than 84% of digital transformations fail, and one of the key reasons is due to poor leadership. Selecting your executive digital transformation team is one of the biggest decisions and can make or break your project.

Keep in mind, who you choose for your digital transformation team depends on the size of your organisation, and the project scope.

Minerva has worked with hundreds of transformation teams; in this article, we explore some of the most common executive roles that are involved.

Categorising project roles and responsibilities based on capabilities

Before examining the roles of the executive digital transformation team, we need to understand the main capabilities most projects are trying to achieve. Understanding the main capabilities, puts you in a better position to categorise project roles.

In general, there are 3 key capabilities that organisations attempt to achieve through a digital transformation:

1. Improvement of operational processes

This refers to increasing the organisation’s ability to access accurate data, that informs and supports strategic business decisions.

This capability is achieved by leveraging technology, automation, and enabling employees with the right digital tools.

2. Advanced business models

This refers to improving the organisation’s service and/or product offering. You can do this by expanding existing services or introducing new product lines. These two opportunities can provide better revenue and growth options for the organisation.

This capability is achieved by using technology to digitise tools, services, and processes, or even provide global shared services.

3. Enhanced customer experience

The third-largest capability is to improve the customers’ experience and engagement with the business.

A digital transformation is two-fold; it should serve to better understand unique customer needs, whilst delivering growth and financial opportunities back to the business.

Now that we have an understanding of the capabilities, we can look at who to involve in delivering these outcomes.

The most common roles and responsibilities
Chief Executive Officer – CEO

The CEO is often the head planner. They take charge of communicating project goals, roadmaps and achieved milestones back to the Board.

The CEO will also develop the overall workforce strategy to support the digital transformation. The CEO will design metrics for success that align with the corporate business strategy. It is their job to ensure that the digital transformation team maintain this goal front of mind.

Chief Technology Officer – CTO

Typically, the CTO keeps track of emerging technologies available in their industry. They will also maintain an awareness of what technology solutions their competitors have invested in. The policies and procedures that leverage new technology in a way that improves products and services for customers is also part of their remit. Essentially, their responsibilities are to develop capabilities that improve operational processes and enhance customer experience.

There has been a shift from the CTO simply being a ‘facilitator’ to a leader of the digital transformation team. However, CTOs who tend to be chosen to lead digital transformation teams tend to demonstrate several additional skills. Firstly, they are solution agnostic – they are open to investigating new solutions and market players, rather than defaulting to ‘big name brands’.  Secondly, they have developed their strategic business skills.

A strategically skilled CTO effectively translates the ‘technical’ components of a digital transformation and demonstrates how it applies to people and processes. They understand that their role involves building a ‘bridge’ or link between technology and the overall business strategy. Once mastered, this skill allows them to successfully communicate how the investment in technology benefits the business and customer.

Chief Information Officer – CIO

Generally, the Chief Information Officer is responsible for internal IT infrastructure and its strategic value to the company. Similarly, the CIO is the ‘go-to’ when it comes to setting security policies around a digital transformation. It is their responsibility to protect intellectual property (IP), internal and external data, as well as the organisation’s reputation and security levels.

However, with digital transformation climbing up the agenda for most organisations, the CIOs list of responsibilities has increased. The CIO needs to consider how the digital transformation team can leverage data to make the business leaner, more agile, increase flexibility, and improve operational efficiency. This responsibility comes with two of the biggest challenges, integrating teams and their existing data silos. Their work centres around developing capabilities that improve and advance business models.

To overcome this challenge, they need to lead the design and build of a frictionless data transfer architecture. This requires the maintenance of up-to-date, and accurate data, and allowing it to move freely, as required in the most efficient way possible.

This is a critical responsibility that will determine the success of your digital transformation team. It is the ability to create a unified view of all enterprise data that will allow the organisation to benefit from the story the data is telling.

Chief Financial Officer – CFO

Traditionally a ‘back office’ role, CFOs in 2022 are seeking to improve processes and efficiencies. Therefore, don’t be surprised by their role in the digital transformation team.

CFOs need to help harness the power of data and technology to drive business efficiency and growth. Automation is already improving financial and operational reports, budgets and forecasts. This form of digitisation has improved delivery time and optimised results – but more needs to be done.

In a digital transformation project, the CFO has the responsibility of helping to justify the investment and spending. Similarly, they will closely monitor the return on investment and will play a role in communicating this back to the board.

Being a key sponsor of digital transformation, the CFO will seek to balance bottom-line growth and shareholder returns. The CFO is great support for digital transformation as they require solutions that enable data-driven decision making. Furthermore, they are also invested in determining its impacts on the short- and long-term strategic plan.

The CFO is an essential player in the digital transformation team and will champion communicating how the strategy will deliver profitable and sustainable growth. Additionally, they want to enable data processing that improves the accuracy of financial data to support timely business decisions.

CDO – Chief Digital Officer

This one is not very common, however, companies who are looking at supercharging growth will hire and deploy a separate digital division headed up by a Chief Digital Officer. This lets them work faster as the separate digital transformation team are not maintaining BAU.

The deployment of a CDO or separate innovation team improves the overall vision. This team can educate other C-Suite executives and gain a multi-functional approach.


In conclusion, what you choose to do with your executive digital transformation team is going to depend on several factors, including budget, time, organisation size and project scope. Here at Minerva we have experience helping mid-to-large size organisations digitally transform. If you need help with your upcoming project why not sign-up to our free 6-part video series on designing and deploying a digital ecosystem?

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