Does your C-suite need a new set of leaders?

by Shweta Verma    Nov 19, 2013


The changing business environment, emergence of new technologies and new areas that need dedicated business attention have all led to the creation of newer leadership roles in the C-suite. The eighties, for example, saw the rise of the CFO with rising pressures for investment management and value creation. Then came the CMOs and CCOs to streamline operations and marketing efforts.

Among the latest to join the C-suite bandwagon has been the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and the Chief Strategy Officer (CSO). The CISO’s function is becoming critical with increasing security threats and potential damages to businesses. The Strategy Officer, on the other hand, is needed to devise new strategies to manage the increasing complexities and ambiguities in the market.  

Industry observers say that with emergence of several new technologies and functionalities, companies may need to continuously evaluate their C-suites and be ready to add newer roles and responsibilities as and when required. Failing to do so may put the company at risk in the new business environment. “Daunting as it may seem to rethink top management roles and responsibilities, failing to do so, given the cross-cutting nature of many data-related opportunities, could well mean jeopardizing top- or bottom-line growth and opening the door to new competitors,” says McKinsey.

“The new horizons available to companies typically span a wide range of functions, including marketing, risk, and operations, the C-suite can evolve in a variety of ways. In some cases, the solution will be to enhance the mandate of the chief information, marketing, strategy, or risk officer. Other companies may need new roles, such as a chief data officer, chief technical officer, or chief analytics officer, to head up centers of analytics excellence,” reads a McKinsey article titled ‘Mobilizing your C-suite for big data analytics.’

According to McKinsey, the power of data and analytics is profoundly altering the business landscape and it is important for companies to create and implement an advanced Big Data and analytics strategy. This need to be driven by an experienced leader who can apply institutional knowledge, navigate organizational hazards, make tough trade-offs, provide authority when decision rights conflict, and signal that the leadership is committed to a new analytics culture. Does that mean the C-suite has to gear up for another rejig?

Many companies are trying to manage this growing need for data analytics by adding more responsibilities to the CIO’s function. But the fact is that data analytics goes way beyond the IT function and involves combining transaction data across a number of businesses or channels. Companies that recognize the value that information can bring to their business are assigning this to separate officer who can direct the effort and define the data and analytics strategy in a dedicated way.

Some key points to consider while creating new leadership roles:

-          What are the main tasks or responsibilities under this category or function?

-          Does it involve a major change in mind sets or way of working?

-          How will it align with the other existing functions in the organization?

-          Is there a need to add new skills or expertise?

-          What are the resources (human, capital) required to support this function?

-          An estimate of the scale and scope of adoption effort (including formal training, on-the-job coaching, new metrics)?

Companies that formulate new leadership roles would soon realize any new member in the C-suite also implies addition in overall executive capacity. You may need to first make an assessment of all the resources required before you decide to go for an expansion of the C-suite. Creating a Chief Data Officer (CDO) for instance would need a team of data experts or people who can be trained to devise analytics-based strategies. The challenges or efforts required may seem formidable, but at times such changes are critical for companies to survive in the new business environment. So are you ready to ramp up your C-suite?