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Business climate change creates movement at C-level

Chris Lawton 5 I Hz5 Whos Qe Unsplash

​With the Digital Age has come the demand to adapt. Not just in working style, systems and the way we do business but in the way the whole organisation is structured. And, it starts from the top down. The C-suite is evolving with the introduction of jobs that simply didn’t exist ten years ago as data, systems, digital media and a less tangible but more global marketplace become part of BAU.

The New Guard

So what does the C-suite encapsulate now and what are the management jobs of the future?

  • CDO (Digital): Oversees the digitisation of processes, functions, products and services for the business. Typically, they are also charged with the transformation/transition from old to new. A tough and nebulous role which also requires a strong communication and educating skills.

  • CIO (Innovation): IP and new product and service development lead; basically your ideas person and creative type who also understands the timetable of delivery and ROI.

  • CDO (Data): Responsible for establishing the capture, storage, security and insights for data collected by the business from both modern and legacy systems. They are pivotal to the decision making process for the business and also understand ROI. A natural storyteller who is able to connect the 1’s and 0’s with real-world outcomes and strategy.

  • CPO (Product): The link between engineering, innovation, commercial and the customer, the CPO holds the vision and roadmap for the products suite. Almost entrepreneurial, this person must process an enormous amount of information to deliver the right outcome for all parties.

  • CCO (Commercial/Commerce): Unifies the marketing and sales function and ensures the financial return from digital and non-digital channels of customer and user acquisition. Focused on brand and highly savvy with the modern commercial demands of a business.

  • CSO (Security): Creates strategy and plans for assessing and countering threats to internal and external-facing systems and data. Also responsible for the policy and compliance to agreed standards and ensures no ‘front-page events’. Typically an analytical and critical thinker.

  • CPO (People): A happy workplace is a productive workplace and with the increasing value placed on good staff the CPO is responsible for managing employment brand strategy, all the way to off-boarding and alumni community management. They build a ‘voice for the employee’ and realise the value of this asset.

  • CXO (Experience): Responsible for the experience delivered to customers and stakeholders of the business through all touch points within the public domain. Often a designer who is very analytical and acts as an interpreter between user’s needs and business desires.

Change of the Old Guard

So is it a case of out with the old and in with the new? Not necessarily, but expectations need to be realigned to modern pressures. What does this mean for the current C-Suite?

  • Chief Information Officer: Is the empire falling for the CIO? The shift to the as-a-service paradigm means a dropping headcount and budget for those not moving with the times. Nibbling at the typical domain of the CIO are the CDOs and CSO. Interestingly, the ubiquitous presence of tech in the business has damaged rather than fortified this role it seems.

  • COO: With more to manage in the technology space, the COO (or CNoNo) has to respond and make more decisions in a faster paced environment using real-time data to gain insight. A tough transition for people who are focused on optimising existing cost and business models.

  • CTO: We are seeing a movement by many product companies to split this role into either VP Engineering and VP Product or a nouveau CTO and CPO mix. The ability to wear enough hats to ensure the best offering of tech to market at pace is driving this change.

  • CMO: If you don't have a digital, content, social and data plan then you are endangered species. This is an increasingly collaborative and responsive role with measurement at the heart of every action.

  • CFO: Once the money police now a much more nuanced role that is deeply invested in the business strategy, the risks, the compliance and the long-term viability of the business. This role has grown and centralised.

  • CEO: Depending on the state of the business the role can encompass everything from selling to investors, devising and executing the strategy throughout the business and everything in-between. A much more external facing occupation than it once may have been as people look to the CEO to be the spokesperson and even the personification of the business.

Crystal ball or current hires?

Already, many of these new C-Suite roles are seen in both progressive and established business looking to embrace the modern business environment and make the most of the tools and thinking at hand. What will be interesting is to see where the talent to fill these new roles emerges from and how quickly the old guard can evolve.