Confusion over who owns – or should own – digital strategy in organisations is leading many to believe the digital experience they offer customers is still underwhelming.

A report by analyst firm Forrester that was commissioned by Accenture has found that “only 3 per cent of Australian respondents think their organisation is exceeding their customers’ expectations in digital experiences.”

“This indicates that very few are confident they have mastered digital to a point of differentiation from their competitors,” Accenture said in a statement.

Dig into the report and it becomes clear that one reason for this low figure is likely to be ongoing confusion over the ownership of digital internally.

“Confusion over who sets the digital vision and strategy hampers digital transformation,” Accenture said.

“Currently, ownership [among Australian organisations] is divided between the chief executive officer (37 percent), chief information officer (29 percent), chief digital officer (9 percent), and chief marketing officer (11 percent).”

To add to the confusion, Australian businesses didn’t see that split as being right. Rather, they believed the CIO should be taking more of a leadership role in digital strategy.

“When asked who should own an organisation’s digital vision and strategy, the CEO came out on top (29 percent) followed by the CIO (20 percent),” Accenture noted.

“The CDO and CMO lagged at 20 per cent and 14 per cent, respectively.”

Forrester noted in the report itself that it did not believe it mattered who owned digital strategy, as long as someone did, and that someone exhibited a strong customer focus.

Lack of ownership of digital is perhaps symptomatic of views by others such as Fujitsu’s i-CIO project that digital strategy “requires company-wide leadership”.

Here, the president of a CIO headhunter group, Matha Heller, argues that digital responsibility should not fall only to the CIO.

“When it comes to the question of who is going to take charge of a company’s digital strategy — of all the technologies, strategies and products that allow companies to engage digitally with their customers and partners more effectively in the future — I believe that is not going to be a single individual but a group of people,” Heller said.

“That would be likely to include the CMO, CTO, CIO and CDO and other CXOs as the digital enterprise evolves.”

Analyst firm Gartner believed that digital responsibilities would be divided among a number of people, but it would ultimately be the CIO that owned it.

“To exploit digital opportunities and ensure that core IT services are ready, CIOs must strive for clear digital leadership, strategy and governance; and help build a digitally savvy C-suite with proven approaches such as the use of digital non-executives, technology showcases, “hackathons,” reverse mentoring, and examples and analogies from other industries,” Gartner said.

“Digital leadership is not a substitute for IT leadership; it’s more an adaptation of business leadership to the digital context.

“Clarifying the coverage and scope of digital leadership, and integration with IT leadership, should be high on every CIO’s agenda.”