This is an excerpt of AESC's report Leading Transformation: Shaping the C-Suite for Business. In the excerpt, AESC member executive recruiters how they believe the C-level leaders will need to evolve to compete in Business 4.0.

CMOs Must Evangelize Customer Centricity and Acrossthe Enterprise

CMOs will need to digitize completely to remain relevant to the contemporary customer. “We see a lot of change in the function of a Chief Marketing Officer,” stated a consultant specializing in financial services. “This is across sectors, not just banking and financial services. We see traditional marketers who are experts in traditional ways of doing marketing, advertising, PR corporate communications and so on. Organizations now want to hire experts in digital marketing. We were working with a client recently to hire a Chief Marketing Officer and they wanted someone who was primarily a digital marketer to connect with customers across platforms and drive their marketing function online.”

CMOs will need to work even more in tandem with CTOs to bring new products and services to the market. The CMO will equip organizations with a deeper and more holistic understanding of customers by leveraging technology and digital platforms which is critical to a Business 4.0 organization’s success.

If the customer being at the center of everything is now a major focus for CEOs, will more CMOs start to transition to Chief Executive Officer roles? Some consultants are skeptical of that. “My commentary on that would be probably not,” stated a consultant specializing in financial services. One factor that goes with CEO succession is being able to demonstrate leadership at scale, P&L leadership, and that’s not always something that Chief Marketing Officers will have had experience in at the same scale. There are certainly exceptions, but it’s still rare and I predict that will continue at least for the near future.”

CTOs Must Become More Commercial and Seize Opportunities in the Marketplace

“The CTO needs to constantly monitor the external marketplace and be able to keep pace with innovation,” shared one consultant serving the technology sector. “This is phenomenally important. Gone are the days when a CTO can say, ‘okay I’ve done my implementation and the technology we’ve adopted will be good for the next 10 to 15 years. Forget it. The technology is continuously changing.”

“Tech leaders, CTOs, they’re increasingly required to be commercial and customer oriented, more so than ever before, which you know, can be a challenge because not all tech leaders are necessarily orientated that way,” commented one consultant headquartered in Australia. “They’ve gone from being back office functions to needing to be right at the front of conversations, and so by definition that has changed the nature of the CTO. There is no doubt about the type of CTO that we look for now. It’s moved away from technicians to commercially savvy business focused. You can only imagine that as that evolves further, it may not be beyond the realms of possibility that that those are the kind of skills that ultimately CTOs would develop and take forward into potential CEO roles. Some say the CTO is the CEO of the future.”

There's New Company in the Business of 4.0 C-Suite

One consultant specializing in the industrial sector shared, “New roles which have developed in the manufacturing and industrial sector are roles branching off from the Chief Technology Officer basically. But that role is now sometimes being replaced by Chief Digital Officers, a role that comprises IoT, blockchain solution architecture, and UI and UX design and dashboard for the entire firm.”

“There is also the position of Chief Innovation Officer or Chief Disruption Officer,” commented one consultant in India. “For the industrial sector, that includes industrial data scientists, industrial computer engineers, programmers and robot coordinators basically. Executives who manage those lines and provide the simulation techniques, a rare talent.” Another consultant in Australia shared, “Chief Innovation Officer roles are relatively new. In the past, they might have been called heads of R&D. They’re now overseeing innovation hubs and innovation labs. They’re playing a role in what used to look like corporate strategy. So, in a way you’re seeing a convergence of previously siloed roles, now fusing together elements of technology, marketing and corporate strategy.”

One consultant specializing in the insurance sector shared, “More organizations will have a Chief  Customer Officer. There’s one organization, they’re an insurance company, and their CEO for each division is the Chief Customer Officer. The chief executives of personal insurance businesses, those roles have really changed. They now include customer strategy and engagement. Chief Customer Officers are responsible for P&L. The role includes elements that once belonged in marketing and technology. I think more and more we’re seeing the Chief Customer Officer role being a role that is in CEO succession.”

A consultant specializing in financial services shared, “We’ve placed Chief Digital Officers, talent often coming from technology and marketing backgrounds. We’re now seeing Chief Digital Officers being hired as CEOs for banks and real estate groups. We have hired one Chief Customer Experience Officer for a multi-format retail brand that has a presence across predominantly North Africa.”

“Another new role is Customer Journey Officer,” shared one consultant with clients in the insurance  sector. “These executives head all of the research on customers and understanding their journey within their business. In insurance for example, those companies want to create a better dialogue with customers on an ongoing basis. So, they hire talent responsible for mapping the entire customer journey  to better understand where they might engage with those customers, how else they might add value.”


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