It’s been a while since we debated the role — or the necessity — of a chief digital officer in the enterprise. But it came up again last week in an IDC webinar on CIO-related predictions for the next few years.

Gil Press found most interesting the prognostication that 60 per cent of CIOs of global organizations will be supplanted by CDO for the delivery of IT-enabled products and digital services.

‘Oh, no,’ some of you are sighing now. ‘Bad enough I have to wonder if my job will be killed by everything being shifted to the cloud. Now this again.’ One Web site has catalogued recent CDO appointments, which include McDonald’s, publishers McGraw-Hill, insurance company Aetna and Starbucks. The author says the CDO Club predicts there will be 1,000 holding the title around the world by the end of the year.

Is this a threat to the CIO? Maybe not.

The idea of a chief digital officer is to hand one person responsibility for the organization’s data, including creating a digital strategy across all online media. Some see it as a focal point for the creation of social media and marketing strategy, which is why many CDOs come from the marketing side of business. Others see the CDO as the person to transform business processes.

These may be worthy responsibilities CIOs should give up. But Press argues that CIOs will still have lots on their plates — security being number one. Ultimately, he says, as the enterprise changes CIOs could use the opportunity to show leadership based on their understanding of data and technology.