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How Five C-Suite Roles Are Being Reshaped By Business 4.0

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Industry 4.0 has now given way to “Business 4.0,” the current global business environment generated by the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Business 4.0 extends beyond the industrial sector to encompass all sectors, from financial and professional services to health care and consumer goods. So great is its influence, Business 4.0 is reshaping the roles that make up the executive ranks within organizations around the world.

Success in a Business 4.0 environment looks different from success in the past. Today, business leaders understand that they must drive digital transformation in their organizations and leverage new opportunities prompted by emerging technologies. Due to the rapid rate of technological change, it can often be a struggle to keep up. As a result, companies are rethinking their approaches to traditional C-suite roles.

Here I share with you some key ways traditional executive roles are changing to be more impactful in the new business climate.

CEOs embrace customer centricity.

The customer no longer belongs to just the chief marketing officer. Today’s entire C-suite must exude customer-centric leadership, with the CEO leading the pack. Digital technology has broken down barriers between companies and customers, leaving customers empowered with more choice than ever before. If a customer doesn’t receive the experience they want, they will quickly move on.

To be effective in the Business 4.0 climate, CEOs must build customer-centric organizations. That means CEOs must get to know their customers by leveraging data and smart customer analytics. They must constantly ask what value the customer is getting and base decisions on that. That also means today’s CEOs must have the influence and the intel to shape a customer-centric culture across an enterprise. And they must espouse through words, action and behavior that building a customer-centric culture is not a project, but rather an ongoing commitment which must be maintained through clear direction and purpose.

CHROs lead an Industry 4.0 talent strategy. C-Suite

The Business 4.0 environment demands that CHROs be much more strategic than in the past. It is the chief human resources officer who will be required to build a talent strategy for Business 4.0 success. This means ensuring a team is in place that can actualize digital transformation across the enterprise and effectively implement people analytics, while embedding the workforce of the future. CHROs must be involved in managing the changes in technology that affect people, including an increasingly automated work environment where people are even integrated effectively with robotic processes.

Because the pace of change is so accelerated, CHROs must also enable cultures of continuous learning. They must be adept at understanding the competencies and profiles that will allow them to compete in the Business 4.0 marketplace. This means putting in place the structure and pipelines to support the right composition of talent. They must understand their bench strength, the capabilities of their internal recruitment teams and when to call upon trusted advisorsfor added support.

CFOs champion long-term investment.

The evolution of technology greatly impacts investment strategies. As a result, chief finance officers must have an eye on the long term and be fluent with new digital technologies from artificial intelligence (AI) to the cloud. Today’s CFOs must be able to create technology-focused business cases and lead the organization in managing the financial opportunities and risks associated with ongoing tech investments. CFOs also need to be able to translate the return on investment of a tech investment through predictive return-on-investment modeling.

CFOs who can be successful in a Business 4.0 environment must understand a company’s future direction, be able to translate that understanding into meaningful change and implement that change through effective tools and processes. The CFO must be on the front lines, advocating for the change an organization needs to make to digitally transform. This means the CFO mindset of yesterday must also shift to embrace agile thinking. With that comes balancing some level of risk-taking with the CFO’s more natural inclination for risk management.

CMOs become culture shapers.

The Business 4.0 chief marketing officer is often a disruptor within an organization and thus they have a significant impact on culture. They are actively questioning the status quo and always thinking through the lens of their customer. Increasingly for the CMO, that also means their internal customer. To enact change across an organization, it is critical they have buy-in on the strategy — not only with the executive team but across the organization. As a result, today’s CMOs must be able to greatly influence culture by changing engrained behaviors and approaches.

Using their abilities as communicators, CMOs must be able to simplify the strategy for transformation into believable and consistent messages. CMOs must be risk-takers and champions of innovation within an organization, but they must be able to balance that by providing a safe zone for others in the organization to get behind the vision, and that largely comes from consistent messaging.

CTOs get in touch with their commercial side.

Technology is continuously changing and as a result, today’s chief technology officers must continuously monitor the marketplace, ready to seize new opportunities. They must know emerging technologies intimately and understand the commercial advantages they can offer, while also weighing associated risks. The Business 4.0 CTO has moved away from being a technician to being commercially savvy and business focused. The CTO must be at the forefront of conversations about strategic direction and they must be able to keep pace with innovation.

The Business 4.0 environment, with its emerging technologies from artificial intelligence and robotic process automation to the cloud and data analytics, has moved CTOs center stage, requiring real-time business intelligence with the CTO responsible for delivering the systems to help organizations understand customer actions and automate responses to those actions. Like their peer, the CMO, CTOs also bear responsibility for shaping aspects of organizational culture, especially embedding a desire for constant improvement.

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About the author

Karen Greenbaum's picture

Karen Greenbaum is President and CEO of the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC), the global association representing the $14b profession worldwide. AESC serves as the voice of excellence for the executive search and leadership consulting profession globally. AESC’s rigorous Code of Professional Practice guides its members, spanning nearly 1,300 offices in 74 countries and beyond, to serve as strategic advisors on behalf of their clients. AESC members are best positioned to provide companies with a competitive advantage—the ability to find, attract and develop the best talent in the world and ensure that executives are successfully integrated. By virtue of selecting an AESC member, clients can be secure in their choice of consulting firm, and can reap the benefits that only a trusted advisor can deliver. To learn more about AESC and to view a list of AESC members, visit www.aesc.org

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