Burberry, Nike, Rolls-Royce. These are firms that understand true digital business, having embraced digital technologies to fundamentally alter the way they bring value to customers.

But this list of leaders is short, and for most firms, the scope of digital transformation is vast with many challenges in the way.

In a new Forrester report, analysts Martin Gill and Nigel Fenwick outline why digital transformation must start with a “digital leader” who brings together the functions that are most affected by and have the most influence on digital strategy.

However, they say, while the CDO may be all the rage, this exec isn’t necessarily the right choice for every organisation.

In addition, Gill and Fenwick argue that the CDO’s role is only a transitory step in the digital business journey – with these C-level execs needing to be prepared to reassess their role on a periodic basis.

This is because success most likely means that they aren’t needed anymore, leaving someone else on the exec team with responsibility for digital – while the CDO is left without a job.

This isn’t necessarily bad news, though. One CDO interviewed for the research went so far as to say: “It will be a personal success if ‘digital factory’ is killed by 2016.”