|Diagram credit: @MarthaHeller|
Online MarketingSome of the CIOs were probably thinking of a department focused on web sites, mobile apps and social media. This might be run by an internet-savvy marketing lead and report into the Marketing function.
Collaborative Business StrategyOthers will have been thinking about the way the internet can reduce barriers to collaboration to enable new forms of partnership such as co-creation. A department which considered this kind of digital might fit well in a Corporate Strategy function or the Office of the CEO.
Business TransformationIf digital was taken to mean catching up with modern electronic business practices then a digital department might be part of a large business transformation programme. These modern business practices might include clever use of data so that you can take action based on outcomes and risk rather than procedure and routine
Up To Date IT InfrastructureI suspect most CIOs were thinking about mobile and public cloud infrastructure and new practices such as continuous delivery and DevOps. These topics would not be out of place within IT but could just be called "up to date IT" rather than "digital".
Information ExploitationMore forward thinking CIOs will be working out how to capture all of their organisation's information in digital form (a lot of information is still trapped in physical or tacit form) so that it can be processed by a computer. This should be one of the core concerns of a real Chief Information Officer but, in my experience, these are actually very rare creatures.
Modern Business OperationsMy guess is that about 20% of CIOs recognise that digital is just an adjective which can be applied to anything. Much of what is currently labelled as digital is just best practice in product development, business operations and customer service and a good Chief Operating Officer should take all of this in their stride.
Related blog posts
You Don’t Need A Digital Strategy, You Need A Digitally Transformed Company by Tom Goodwin
Adapt, disrupt, transform, disappear: The 2015 Chief Digital Officer Study