Anne Watson, writing in the UK’s Management Today newspaper, suggested yesterday that five new executive functions will soon find their way onto the Boards and Executive teams of large organisations. I agree and would add a sixth.
CHIEF AUTOMATION OFFICER (CAO)
At SXSW, Microsoft’s Kate Crawford said of AI, ‘We have to make artificial intelligence systems more transparent and accountable.’ Her thoughts echo the concerns of many executives who recognise the ability of AI to revolutionise their business, but are wary of its potential to create unforeseen challenges. As the technology continues to develop, driven by the likes of Facebook, Amazon and others, we are likely to see the introduction of specialist AI experts to the boardroom table.
CHIEF CYBER SECURITY OFFICER (CCSO)
Cyber security is not a new issue but is certainly a growing one. Yet, despite 75 per cent of UK businesses admitting that cyber-security is a priority for their senior management, only 3 per cent employ a specialist cyber security officer, with responsibility instead given to either the CEO or CFO. Furthermore, just under half of UK businesses identified at least one cyber security breach or attack in the last 12 months, yet only 11 per cent have a cyber security incident management strategy in place. New York recently introduced cyber security accountability for Wall Street executives; we can expect the UK to follow suit, with the more commonplace introduction of the CCSO at board-level.
CHIEF CUSTOMER OFFICER (CCO)
Briefly returning to my earlier point about the thirst for instant information, the proliferation of social media has given consumers huge power; C-suite executives are acutely aware of customers’ ability to influence the perception of their brand, and their power to create chaos, as evidenced during the recent US Airlines debacle. With multiple marketing avenues and ‘touchpoints’ on the average brand’s customer journey, smart businesses will begin to open their eyes to the benefits of a C-suite customer champion.
CHIEF FREELANCE RELATIONSHIPS OFFICER (CFRO)
Beyond the ‘gig economy’ and its intricacies, there is an important change taking place with the growth in self-employment. It’s a change that has seen huge benefits to businesses who have embraced this new, more flexible way of working, relying on a network of talented, experienced freelancers. The trend is predicted to increase, with co-working spaces popping up in cities across the country to keep pace with demand. However, executives are mindful of the fact that much of their talent lies outside the business, and are acutely aware of the importance of keeping freelance talent happy. As the preference for self-employment gathers pace, we are likely to see the introduction of the CFRO into the C-suites of larger companies, tasked with ensuring their business retains top talent.
CHIEF FUTURIST OFFICER (CFUO)
We have long been in awe of the futurist, their ability to study the future and make predictions based on mathematical analysis and assessment of trends. With continuing political and socio-economic developments and the advancement of technology, we will see companies following in the footsteps of Google, Wired and Cisco, appointing dedicated futurists, joining the C-suite to provide powerful advice and counsel to senior management team.
CHIEF DATA OFFICER
This is my addition to the list. In addition to managing the security of the company’s data, this person would be responsible for making sense of the data, analysing it, mining it and developing learnings from it. This may also create a role for someone who uses machine learning and deep learning (linked to AI). Data is the new oil, and companies that don’t recognise the value of the data they have (or could have) are missing out. This is such an important asset, that it needs a dedicated expert on the team.
Read more at Management Today
EDIT: Additional Positions
Thank you to those people who have made some suggestion for additional positions:
- Chief Creative Officer
- Chief Design Officer
- Chief Innovation Officer
- Chief Collaboration / Partnerships Officer
What other future Executive functions can you imagine?