by Sharon Florentine

7 New Faces of the C-suite

Mar 10, 20145 mins
CareersIT Leadership

Chief Digital Officer, Chief Marketing Office and Chief People Officer are just a few of the new faces being introduced into C-suites around the globe. Spoiler alert: We’re still waiting for the emergence of the Chief Martini Officer.

“Meet the new boss, same as the old boss,” as the song goes. Not so fast; today’s businesses are rapidly introducing new roles into the C-suite to address emerging technology and challenges in a digital, online age and to better manage their talent. Here are seven new faces you’re likely to see in the C-suite.

Chief Marketing Officer

While a CMO’s job is grounded in traditional marketing, sales and branding functions, in today’s digital world, the role has changed. By 2017, according to a January 2012 research report by Gartner, the CMO will outspend the CIO on technology. I don’t think a CMO in the traditional sense exists anymore,” says Rona Borre, CEO and founder of recruiting, hiring, and consulting firm Instant Technology. “Marketing professionals have to be tech savvy, have to be well-versed in content optimization, and be able to understand the importance of social media, data analytics, the Internet, search, and so much more,” Borre says. The “new” CMO role will overlap that of the CIO, but with a continued emphasis on legacy marketing and branding activities, she says.

Chief Commerce Officer

Online shopping has come a long way. The explosion of mobile devices has ushered in a need for seamless and transparent payment and billing systems, both in business-to-consumer and business-to-business transactions, and with that, the need for an executive level position to manage and coordinate the many different sales channels, says Mike Ni, Chief Marketing Officer and senior vice president of Products at Avangate.

A Chief Commerce Officer is charged with bridging the gaps between different enterprise departments with separate commerce systems, and with understanding technology, finance, social media, marketing and the back-end systems behind these solutions. “A CCO must ensure these solutions are seamless so customers can research, engage, shop, buy and then discuss their experience via social media,” Ni says. Not an easy task.

Chief People Officer

The Chief People Officer addresses the importance of people and an increased focus on talent management and retention, says Tony DiBenedetto, chairman and CEO of TriBridge. “With so many challenges related to retaining talent, training and competing globally in a digital landscape, it’s not OK to have ‘people issues’ handled on a part-time basis by the CEO and the HR department,” says DiBenedetto. Many organizatons are appointing a CPO to amplify the voices of an organization’s biggest and best asset – its people.

“Most businesses [have] good HR skills, but tying talent initiatives to larger business strategy, being more proactive about fully investing in talent and helping employees become more engaged and involved in the larger mission of the business is critical to success,” he says.

Chief Data Officer

Data is an enterprise asset, determining how to best manage enterprise-wide administration and data mining functions is crucial, according Deloitte Consulting principal analyst Jane Griffin.

Enter the Chief Data Officer. A CDO must define strategic priorities for management and delivery of data throughout the enterprise, identify new business opportunities through the analysis of data, and significantly improve revenue generation through more effective use of enterprise data. In other words, a CDO must function as “the voice” of data and generally champion its position as a strategic business asset. An effective CDO crafts and implements data strategies, standards, procedures and accountability policies at the enterprise level, says Griffin.

Chief Digital Officer

A Chief Digital Officer may have the most nebulous job description of all — adapting traditional business, technology, commerce and marketing practices to a digital world. This role looks very different depending on organizations’ hierarchy and needs, and many CDOs assume job functions from their peers in CIO, CTO, CMO and even CEO roles. “As mobile technology and data analytics completely reshape the business landscape, building a truly digital business DNA is an imperative for survival in today’s competitive app economy. Many companies are seeking CDOs to lead this enterprise-wide transformation,” says Bryan Kirschner, director of the Apigee Institute.

While as of late 2013 only 6 percent of organizations employed a CDO, Gartner predicts that by 2015, that number will skyrocket to 25 percent.

Chief Product Officer

A Chief Product Officer ensures that each phase of a product’s creation runs smoothly and coordinates efforts. A CPO’s job description includes determining consumer needs, overseeing product prototypes, overseeing product manufacturing and contributing to the development and execution of the marketing strategy.

The CPO often works with the CMO to help develop and execute effective marketing campaigns. A background in marketing, customer engagement, research and data analysis is often valuable for landing a CPO role.

This could include implementing a variety of media, such as television commercials, online advertising and social media. To have the greatest odds of success, a Chief Product Officer will usually experiment with multiple marketing possibilities. He might tweak his marketing methods if necessary while tracking product sales.

Chief Happiness Officer

A Chief Happiness Officer might not be as common as other executive titles on this list, but it’s critical to the success of companies with customer interaction, says Strikingly CEO and co-founder David Chen. “Our CHO’s goals include being in charge of customer support and functioning as chief community manager,” Chen says. The firm, which offers a one-click service to create personal websites, strives to make ‘super fans,’ not just customers “Before our CHO joined the team, I personally interacted with more than 20,000 of our users. If we only make our users “satisfied” with our product, we failed. The bar is set high and the title of CHO shows our determination to deliver happiness. Our CHO’s work humanity into a tech product,” Chen says.