Insurers – both from the property/casualty and life sectors – are far ahead of other industries in appointing a chief digital officer, according to Strategy&, PwC’s strategy consulting business.

Once nearly unheard of, a chief digital officer or some equivalent has become much more common. The reason: digital savvy matters much more these days to a company’s daily operations both internally and with customers.

Insurers appear to have taken the biggest plunge. About 35 percent of carriers had a chief digital officer in 2016, according to the Strategy& data, topping multiple industries.

Communications, media and entertainment placed second, with 28 percent of companies saying they had a CDO on staff. Banking placed third, with 27 percent, tying with consumer products/retail. About 23 percent of food and beverage companies said they had a chief digital officer, as did 19 percent of pharmaceutical/healthcare and chemical companies. Automotive and heavy machinery ranked next, at 15 percent, and only 13 percent of technology/electronics companies had a chief digital officer, based on 2016 data.

Strategy& said that both property/casualty and life insurers were included in the report. While the survey would not disclose specific companies, property/casualty carriers including Chubb and Allianz have them in their executive suites. American International Group hired a new chief digital officer in 2016 who helped bring Apple Pay and a number of mobile banking apps to JPMorgan Chase & Co. In April, The Hartford announced its first-ever chief digital and customer experience officer.

The study looks at the top 2,500 public companies globally by market capitalization in order to better understand how the companies appoint a digital executive, who they are and where the position fits in the company hierarchy.

Broader results showed that the jump in chief digital officers reflects companies’ general focus on becoming digital in their own operations.

Among the broader findings:

  • About 19 percent of companies analyzed either had a designated chief digital officer or some equivalent in 2016, up from just 6 percent in 2015. What’s more, 60 percent were hired in 2015 and 2016, according to the study.
  • Approximately 40 percent of companies have a c-level position focused on digital operations. Out of the C-suite members, 67 percent actually have the title of chief digital officer.
  • About 32 percent of digital executives have technology backgrounds.
  • A digital executive at a given company depends on what the company’s specific mission, condition and requirements are.

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Source: Strategy &/PwC