Is it time to mind the executive gap?


In recent months and years, C-level job titles have been on an upward slope. From the CCO (Chief Customer Officer) to the Chief Digital and Chief Data Officer (CDO), this trend reflects the excitement and anxiety surrounding big data, advanced analytics, and the rise of the age of the customer. By now, everyone knows that there is huge opportunity in these new business areas. From reducing costs by improving quality, data is a worthy friend in the business world. Equally, the renewed focus on customer experience from both the B2B and B2C ends of the spectrum plays an enormous role in invigorating competition in the business world. Yet many businesses are still unprepared for it.

Are new C-level positions the answer to these new trends? This largely depends on the skills gap in your organisation and how big it is.

With regards to data management for example, most organisations will not need a CDO to put basic data management capabilities in place if they already have closely aligned IT and marketing team. Likewise, enabling analytics to take root in a company does not require a CDO either. This would be better addressed by a wider cultural shift and not another member of the board.

Although almost all organisations will need a figure to own customer experience however, not all will resort to hiring a C-level executive to hold that role. In many companies, the responsibility for customer experience is held by senior marketing professionals (such as the CMO). Some notable brands such as Disney World for example, don’t need CCOs simply because the importance of the customer is so ingrained in their very culture. In other words, the importance of wider movements in business does not always necessitate new hires. Sometimes, just a new way of thinking can be enough.

So when is it time to mind the executive gap? The role of C-Suite executives such as the CDO or CCO comes in only when a company is ready to decide how it wishes to compete with data, digital or customer experience over the long term and starts to build the organisational capabilities it will need to do so. The questions to ask should not be about managing new trends effectively but rather about understanding what they can do for your company as it evolves. How does data help us to do things that were once impossible for us to do? What’ s next for your customers? While a new C-level executive may not be the first step in this process, he or she could well be the final one..