#Connected Manufacturing Leaders Summit 2020#manufacturing#Industry 4.0#Chief Digital Officer#CDO#digital transformation#change management#Philips#Dow Chemical#Coca Cola#Solenis#Leadership

Connected Manufacturing 2020: What makes a good CDO?

The Connected Manufacturing Leaders Summit in Berlin brings together Ops tech and Info tech from some of the world’s biggest manufacturers; all of them ...

Daniel Brightmore
|Jan 29|magazine18 min read

The Connected Manufacturing Leaders Summit in Berlin brings together Ops tech and Info tech from some of the world’s biggest manufacturers; all of them on the quest for Industry 4.0.

Manufacturing Global was in the audience to hear a panel discussion packed with insight on “Connecting the ‘purpose’ to the data”.

Moderator Karim Pourak, CEO, ProcessMiner introduced an expert panel featuring John Vermeer, Director Digital & Smart Factory, Philips, Jens Schmidt, Global Technology Director, Dow Chemical, Damodar Hedge, Director Digital Operations Excellence & Digital Supply Chain, Coca-Cola and Tony Lewis, Global Product Manager - Digital Services, Solenis.

The panel considered a question at the heart of digital transformation for manufacturers: “How can you best define your business goals to gather the right data and make forward thinking decisions?”

Addressing the rise of digital from factory floor to boardroom the Connected Manufacturing panel reflected on the role of the Chief Digital Officer and what makes a good CDO.

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“It’s a tremendous help if that person understands the manufacturing process and can map the digital part to what’s actually happening on the shop floor with the workflow,” said Schmidt. “It’s beneficial if that person isn’t purely from manufacturing and trying to learn digital stuff; you need to find someone with a solid grounding in the digital world and at the same time understands the challenges of the factory world. The difficulty comes in managing expectations while keeping up with what’s happening in the marketplace.”

Expanding on the need to manage the expectations of shareholders and investors, Hegde noted that digital is an area where managers aspiring to be CDOs will end up getting a new job title every quarter based on the idea that “if you want to get something done give it to someone who is busy”. He added that a big part of the Chief Digital Officer role is involving all areas of the business in your decision making, so it’s important that they are sitting at the table rather than reporting in to a CIO or Head of Finance.

“It should be someone who can translate buzz words into something useful,” advised Vermeer. “They need to be realistic about what can be achieved.”

Lewis echoed the need for translator and facilitator of the big pieces that make up the jigsaw of a digital transformation. “They need to manage how the company moves forward because people respond to progress.”

“The most important thing for a CDO is to get a budget and the chance to set some approvals and statements in your company,” said an IoT professional who commented from the audience. “You can be a super good networker but if you don’t have the power and the due diligence to go and change something, you’ve just got a title because your company wanted to show its was doing something about Industry 4.0 but wasn’t that serious about it.” She argued that there was no point in occupying a role that could commission debt with no power to change anything. “If your serious about having a CDO in your company, give them the power and the budget to enable them to make the changes we’re all serious about.”

Pourak highlighted that when it comes to areas like AI it was sometimes hard to show value in the short-term and that companies often question their outlay and don’t have the patience for the long-term value delivery a CDO could bring.