'The Primary Role Of CDO Can Range From A Transformational Champion...To An Evolutionary Steward'

We spoke to Steve Kerchner, Chief Digital Officer at the American College of Cardiology


Steve Kerchner is the Chief Digital Officer at the American College of Cardiology, a position he has held for nearly four years. Steve is responsible for the development, implementation, and evolution of a digital strategy to deliver high-value digital experiences to the body's members and customers. He manages a digital team that has both operational and strategic responsibilities for the organization - maintaining and improving the web platform, executing portfolio management functions for all digital products and services, providing user experience and analytics expertise, and leading coordination and evolution of the overall digital strategy.

Ahead of his presentation at the Chief Digital Officer Forum this November 17-18 in Chicago, we sat down with Steve to discuss the role of the CDO and the future of a role created with such a specific remit. 

What could the industry be doing to better meet consumer expectations?

We have to continue to try to make our digital services as reliable and easy to use as calling into a call center for support. Our customers are so pressed for time, and their greatest source of frustration is when they can’t find what they’re looking for online or they are unable to complete a transaction and they are forced to make a phone call. Constant focus is required on core features such as login, navigation, and searching in order to keep up with evolving consumer expectations.

Why do you think the role of the CDO is so difficult to define?

I think a significant part of the challenge is that the needs of every organization are so different, based on their level of digital maturity. Some organizations have never even considered developing a digital strategy while in other organizations digital engagement is pervasive in every aspect of their approach. So the primary role of CDO can range from a transformational champion on one end of the spectrum to an evolutionary steward on the other, depending on the needs of the organization.

Some believe the role of a CDO is to make themselves obsolete. To what extent do you think this is the case?

In many organizations, the role of a CDO is to work across departments to champion digital engagement and to coordinate digital efforts and platforms in alignment with an overall digital strategy. As more and more customer engagement takes place through digital channels, organizations transform to digital-first mindsets, and more departments become digitally-savvy, the need for a dedicated champion diminishes. In that model, both the strategic and coordination functions of a CDO blend back into more traditional CMO and CIO functions rather than remaining distinct.

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