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. So where to begin? 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.

But, not so fast if your mind jumped straight to hiring a chief digital officer (CDO). While the CDO may be all the rage, this exec isn’t necessarily the right choice for every organization. What’s more, 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. Why? 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.”

To learn more about this research, visit the full report here.