Reinventing the C-Suite: The Rise of the CCO and CSO

Social media is moving like a train with no brakes, providing a real time feedback mechanism for a multitude of companies. Consumers, both individual and corporate, now have multiple feedback forums. These forums can be used to tell others that, in an attempt to get to a live customer service representative, it takes seven automated screening prompts. After these prompts, you reach a live person who is likely from a developing country and is taught to respond to customer issues with only pre-prepared scripts.

The Legacy of Combined CIO/COO Roles

For the last decade, efforts have been made to combine the roles of CIO and COO. The fundamental premise being that the CIO owned Technology and Information (data), while the COO owned People and Process. These four solution attributes, when combined, represent the key organizational components required to drive a business imperative from concept to realization. This organizational configuration success rate has varied materially from one company to another. Success has been hampered based upon the legacy (baggage) both organizations bring to the company; and the fact that there was really no innovation associated with this tactical undertaking. In addition, one of the two organizations, despite the best intentions, would be seen by subordinate staff as managing the other.

The New Paradigm

We see evidence almost daily of some matter related to an individual or company going viral on social media, putting an individual and or company in the spotlight either positively or negatively. With the advent of hardware such as the Apple Watch, the current rapid response of social media is going to evolve to a real-time consumer response configuration. Existing, long established organizational structures need to be re-innovated to meet this new reality. Now more than ever, companies need to have laser focus on the individuals and or companies they have as customers. When issues arise with a company’s performance, the response must be as immediate as the arisen issue itself.

In order to meet this new reality, a new corporate organizational structure needs to be constructed to meet the newfangled challenges companies face. Thus, the reason for the creation of the CCO and CSO as described below. The key differentiator of this new organizational paradigm is the direct ownership of certain aspects of the customer relationship, in order to meet the unique challenges associated with the emergent real-time consumer (Individual or Corporate) environment we now face.

Chief Sales Officer (CSO): Lead Generation Through To Sale Closure

The CSO role is customer facing and embodies the historic role of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), that of the CIO in relation to selling systems, and the CFO functions associated with cost management related to initial customer acquisition, and if industry vertical appropriate, the role of managing a repetitive sales retail type of environment. Thus, the CSO owns all organizational components which support customer acquisition and associated revenue generation along with associated profitability.

Chief Customer Officer (CCO): Sale Closure Through To Demand Fulfillment

The CCO role is customer facing as well and embodies the remaining traditional CIO and COO functions associated with customer management and servicing. In Insurance, for example, this would be from application approval through to final benefit payout. In retail, the customer lifecycle would repeat itself, every time a customer makes a purchase through to the next purchase or retirement of an old purchase (such as a car) and the completed contract for a new one.

The Reemergence of the CTO

While the remaining C-level roles remain largely unchanged, these two new organizational constructs are transformational, as they embody the totality of the customer relationship, and as a result, other C-level functions need reconfigure themselves to support these two critical customer facing roles. While most companies have traditionally had a CIO, which included the role of a CTO (Chief Technology Officer), under the strategic paradigm above the role of the CTO is emergent, as with undertakings like the cloud computing, hardware infrastructure which can handle big data, and an ever evolving customer interaction with technology as the often first and primary source of customer experience with the company they are doing business with.

The Reign of the Customer

In addition, these new roles are designed to constantly have the pulse of the customer, and as such when customer relationship issues arise, all enterprise assets are within these new C-level individuals reach, in order to meet the customer service demands of this new emergent real-time customer interaction and demand fulfillment environment we now face.

With both businesses and individuals now able to publish their frustration with companies instantly, the writing of a complaint letter is no longer a time intensive undertaking along with the associated hassle of stamps and mailing. As such, now more than ever, reconfiguring the organization in such a manner to be constantly customer focused will be the key differentiators for most businesses into the future.

Consider Amazon, causing the shuttering of book stores which never thought their existence would disappear. Like water we as consumers ultimately seek the path of least resistance to get what we want when we want it. Thus, the advent of the CSO and CCO, along with bringing back the CTO, I submit brings the necessary elements for the organization of the future to be competitive in this ever-evolving, real-time world.

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About the author

BlueSteps Executive Guest Writer

Alan RoyalAlan Royal has led large and complex IT and operations functions – as Chief Information Officer and, often in parallel, Chief Operations Officer – to deliver complex global projects across borders for companies like New York Life, AIG, and Manulife. He was the first foreigner ever appointed as an executive officer of a Vietnam State Owned Company, and in this role led the IT Transformation of the State Owned Financial Service Conglomerate Bao Viet Holdings. He collaborated with McQuarie University, Australia, to create an innovative set of management practices enabling better assimilation and performance of executives in trans-national companies sent to emerging markets. He is a regular contributor to BlueSteps’ Executive Career Insider, as well as Meettheboss.tv; and was featured in Harvard Business Review Online. Find out more: www.alanroyal.com.

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In this digital era, I would argue that the roles of CSO and CCO are being superseded by the CDO (Chief Digital Officer).
Marketing takes care of the brand, R&D takes care of the product, Sales take care of the customer, and the CDO connects the brand, product and customer!

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