'The Chief Digital Officer Touches Every Aspect Of An Organization'

We sat down with Michael Reszler, Chief Digital Officer at American Public Media


Michael Reszler is Chief Digital Officer at American Public Media, a position he's held for two and a half years. In his role, Michael is responsible for digital strategy, content, operations and business development (revenue) for APM's various digital properties. He also oversees radio and digital aspects of our national arts and ideas programming.

Ahead of his presentation at the Chief Digital Officer Forum this November 17-18 in Chicago, we sat down with Mike to talk all things digital. 

How have the main responsibilities of the role of the CDO changed over the past year?

When I first started in digital media, the big digital push in media organizations was to create separate organizations. Everyone was highly influenced by The Innovator’s Dilemma, and we didn’t really have CDOs. We had CEOs of the spun-off digital company or division. They were essentially mini-CEOs. The vision was that eventually that they would grow into 'the company'. It was a lot about technology: formats and platforms and building up a lot backend infrastructure. 

Well, after about five years, the climate, especially at newspapers, kept getting more dire, and the separate companies were moved back into the mothership. Today, the CDO is as much the Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer at a company as they are the head of digital. For me, it less about technology and more about selling and shepherding a digital strategy across the organization as the entire organization becomes 'digital.'

What trends can we expect to be of primary concern for CDOs over the next year?

I think there are four trends that will continue:

- More focus will come to personalization and building experiences that leave audience members feeling that the media experience they just had was created just for them.

- The use of analytics will continue to grow, and while there will continue to be emphasis on collecting data, the big push will be on understanding, analyzing and using it. We have ever growing mounds of data, but we need to continue to refine the signal to noise ratio.

- Mobile has only begun, and we will see even more emphasis on moving from mobile-first to mobile-only.

- That said, in media we will see even more emphasis on moving people seamlessly throughout the day across media experience, handing off from device to the next.

What is your industry doing to better meet consumer expectations?

In our industry, mobile has opened up a whole new era for us, and it has allowed us to play from our strength: audio. Podcasting and mobile audio delivery are helping us reach new audiences and create more opportunities for engagement.

Why is the role of the CDO so difficult to define?

The Chief Digital Officer touches every aspect on an organization. They are as much the Chief Strategy or Innovation Officer as they are the Chief Digital Officer. They tend to be one of the few C-level suites that as horizontal orientation, as opposed to a vertical orientation, and they touch every aspect the organization, not just marketing or finance or content, but the CDO combines all of those.

Which other speakers are you most looking forward to hearing from at the summit?

Building Digital Throughout the Revolution by Bob Mohler

You can hear more from Mike, along with other industry-leading executives, at the Chief Digital Officer Forum this November 17-18 in Chicago. To see the full agenda, click here.

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