Fractional Chief Digital Officer: Why Your Business Needs One

Rounded Photo of a Man with Dark Hair in a Blue Shirt Denis Khorolsky 29/04/2024 6 min read
fractional chief digital officer


The CDO (Chief Digital Officer) role first gained ground among tech-savvy sectors such as finance and technology. Now, this trend has reached further. Industries like healthcare, education, manufacturing, and retail also adopt the CDO role. 

A CDO typically leads digital innovation and strategy and, with the constant flow of technology advances, pushes a business. However, not every firm can or needs to have the capacity to afford such a full-time executive role. This is where the concept of a fractional Chief Digital Officer comes in. 

A fractional CDO offers businesses the same level of expertise and leadership without necessarily being on a full-time basis. It is hence very appropriate for small—and medium-sized enterprises or those at a strategic development level.

Why Consider a Fractional CDO?

The benefits of hiring a fractional CDO are very similar to the benefits that come with other fractional executives, with cost savings being among the top. 

During significant change periods, such as a major digital transformation or market entry, a fractional CDO can ramp up their involvement and scale back as situations stabilize.

The Role of a Fractional Chief Digital Officer

A fractional Chief Digital Officer will typically be brought in to help:

  • Develop and execute digital strategies in line with business objectives.
  • Plan and manage digital marketing campaigns from inception to completion.
  • Manage web development projects to ensure they deliver functional business value.
  • Head the integration of new technologies, especially AI, into the whole business system to make everything more efficient. 

Their strategic input could guide a company through digital challenges and opportunities, ensuring that investments in technology result in actual business outcomes.

Benefits of Hiring a Fractional CDO

benefits of hiring fractional cdo

One of the best reasons to hire a fractional Chief Digital Officer is cost. With a fractional CDO, a firm can substantially reduce liabilities compared to those with a full-time salary. Yet, they will get exposure to first-class digital expertise. It makes advanced skills and strategic guidance from experience more readily available, which is of fair value in a competitive world that goes digital first. 

The second significant advantage of a fractional CDO is the possibility of scalability. The involvement and execution of a fractional CDO can be adjusted based on your business growth and development. This ensures that during phases of critical growth or during pivotal projects, the business is availed of the support and leadership without having to commit long-term or pay for the services of a full-time executive.

Thirdly, a partial CDO brings new perspectives to the table. As an external leader, he can bring new ideas and dare to think differently from his current position. Fresh thought processes are essential for driving big growth and ensuring that the business moves as fast as the industry is moving and, perhaps, even quicker.

Ready to discuss how a fractional CDO can help your business thrive? Contact us today!

How to Hire a Fractional CDO

To hire a fractional CDO effectively, consider the following steps:

  1. Define Your Needs: Understand what digital challenges you want to address and what kind of expertise is needed.
  2. Search for Expertise: Leverage networks, industry contacts, and professional agencies to find candidates with the right mix of skills and experience.
  3. Interview: Focus on their strategic vision and past results. Discuss how they've implemented change and achieved digital transformation in other organizations.
  4. Discuss Expectations: Agree on the scope of work, duration, and outcomes. This clarity will help both parties manage expectations and focus on results.

What to Expect from a Fractional CDO Service

When you opt for a fractional CDO service, expect to receive:

  • Strategic planning sessions to align digital initiatives with business objectives.
  • Regular updates and reports on digital performance metrics.
  • Leadership in project management and team guidance.
  • Customized advice on incorporating advanced technologies into your business processes.

Success Stories of Fractional CDOs

Adam Brotman – Starbucks

With his deep background in eCommerce and digital media, Adam Brotman joined Starbucks in 2009 to integrate technology into the Starbucks experience, enhancing customer engagement and operational efficiency. Brotman led the launch of the Starbucks Mobile Order & Pay and the Starbucks Rewards loyalty program, utilizing personalized marketing to boost customer retention. He implemented big data analytics for better demand forecasting, inventory management, and staffing, significantly reducing waste and service times. Under his leadership, Starbucks enhanced integration across ordering systems (mobile, online, in-store) using technologies like geo-fencing to alert staff of approaching customers, streamlining pickups.

As a result, the Starbucks Rewards program saw a dramatic increase in membership and customer lifetime value, with the Mobile Order & Pay system accounting for a notable share of transactions. The integrated customer experience approach boosted customer satisfaction and solidified Starbucks' reputation as a pioneer in creating a unified retail experience.

Asmita Dubey – L’Oréal

Asmita Dubey joined L'Oréal as Chief Marketing Officer in 2013 bringing her extensive background in digital marketing and business strategy expertise to the table. In 2021 she became a Chief Digital and Marketing Officer. Her focus was crafting data-driven marketing strategies and enhancing digital customer experiences, aligning digital initiatives with L'Oréal's broader corporate goals.

Asmita Dubey led the development of L’Oréal’s direct-to-consumer online platforms, moving beyond traditional retail dependencies. She controlled the execution of digital campaigns targeting younger demographics, utilizing social media influencers and interactive content to heighten engagement. Under her direction, L’Oréal adopted advanced analytics and machine learning to tailor customer experiences, all while adhering to strict data privacy standards.

The transition to direct-to-consumer sales significantly boosted online revenue and broadened L’Oréal’s market presence. Her interactive digital campaigns successfully increased engagement rates among younger consumers.


Considering a fractional Chief Digital Officer could be the strategic step your business needs to navigate the complexities of digital transformation. With the flexibility and expertise a fractional CDO offers, you can drive significant digital growth without the overhead of a full-time executive. 

If your business is ready to advance its digital strategy, exploring a fractional CDO might be the key.

Rounded Photo of a Man with Dark Hair in a Blue Shirt
Denis Khorolsky
Chief Operating Officer
As a multi-skilled business development executive, I like to share my insights and the latest trends in ecommerce. I produce research-driven and clear copy to unlock new opportunities for your business and keep it competitive. If you want to connect, follow me on LinkedIn.
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