The needs of enterprises are not rocket science these days – they are based on what they need right now, and the direction of travel for everyone is pretty much the same across the OneEcosystem:
- Get your sh*t into the cloud as fast as you can so you can operate and compete
- Make sure you know exactly what your customers what and have the tools and know-how to engage with them and impact them
- Make sure you have a handle on your security challenges
- Make sure you have collaborative partners who can support you (and you them)
- Make sure your key people aren’t going to leave
- Have a handle on the data you need to be effective, and organize your business functions to get rid of the silos
- Create a leadership function to pull this all together for you
We would argue that you’ll mess up 1 through 6 if you haven’t figured out 7.
These are the roles – and leadership traits – that will make companies much more in tune with their strategic needs and align them to their business operations:
The Chief Executive Officer: The CEO should be the leader who drives the infinite mindset across the organization. He/she must continuously define the purpose for the organization and relentlessly drive a fearless collaborative culture that values stakeholder value beyond shareholder value. As a leader, it’s so easy to obsess with operational functions of the business during times of disruption or distress – in this case, a global pandemic – that it can create knee-jerk, often short-term decisions that could inherently damage your long-term vision, your business’ culture and your raison d’être. With no defined time horizon, no clearly-defined rules, and with players that may enter and exit at any time, the primary objective of an infinite game is quite simply to keep playing. The goal for businesses is to have the will and resources to stay in the game, through thick and thin.
Having lived and worked through four recessions, I personally understand the rapid change in leadership mindset that can occur when a firm goes from peacetime and growth to one of survival and all-out war. According to author Simon Sinek, people look to leadership to serve and protect, to “set up their organizations to succeed beyond their lifetimes.” But in the modern landscape, most organizations place an unbalanced focus on near-term results that may ultimately prove to be self-defeating, like casting aside your umbrella in a storm because you haven’t been getting wet. In short, business is no finite endeavor. This pandemic lays plain for all to see the game we are really playing.
The CEO is the ultimate collaborator, forcing the change that is needed and balancing the desires of the various stakeholders (the board, key clients, key partners, the employees). His/her team to make this happen must be responsible for the full gamut of their customers, employees, and partners, working with a transformational wizard to bring together the process and technology with the real innovation ingredient: the people.
Chief Transformation Officer: This leader must link front to back office and ensure processes run smoothly across functions to deliver the data/outcomes the organization needs. This should ideally be someone who understands the challenges of enterprise operations, and how to align them with the market facing/client impact areas of the firm. Forget the old GBS head / shared services head role, as this just has repeatedly failed to get out of the transactional back-office world and the “finance factory”. This person must oversee both technology and operations, understand the value of automation and AI, be able to design and implement change programs and work closely with the employee experience leader to eliminate the back office mindset from antiquated business functions into one that is aligned with the direction of the business.
Chief Customer Experience Officer: This is the leader who lives and breathes the world of the customers and obsesses with how to engage them as effectively as possible – right across the entire customer life-cycle. This ideally is someone who understands how to design customer interfaces, how to service customer needs leveraging both digital tools and physical support and ensuring the entire employee base is unified around (and incentivized on) driving customer impact. In addition, the CCXO must ensure the marketing mindset is to communicate with the customer, educate the customer, and to develop specific programs that have a real impact on driving customer engagement and business growth.
Chief Employee Experience Officer: Forget transactional HR, the employee experience leader is the person responsible for making the company a great, energizing place to work, where staff of all backgrounds, ages, experience levels cultures are energized by the values and desired outcomes of the firm. This individual must be the person who can manage the expectations of the board, the CEO, the shareholders to create a company culture and values that everyone believes in. Moreover, the CEXO must be intimately involved in the creation and execution of training programs across the firm to attract talent who want to work for a company that will develop them, as well as establishing a culture and values they can identify with. This should ideally be a strong leader with broad experience of the business and staff development, who knows what it takes to be successful, and who understands how to motivate people beyond pure compensation. The best leaders today are also great people managers – and the CEXO role must be at the core of the business leadership, not some ancillary executive painting lip service and not having any real impact.
Chief Partner Experience Officer: As the OneEcosystem environment evolves, the need to collaborate with entities with common objectives, across the entire customer value chain, has never been so prominent. Partners are no longer just your suppliers. Suppliers are essential partners to deliver your goods/services. Still, the OneEcosystem looks at partners more holistically – partners in the ecosystem involved in providing the customer experience across the entire customer lifecycle.
As such, we believe these five partner ecosystems will evolve:
- Supply chain partners, such as suppliers, distributors, or financers;
- Industry partners, such as multiple banks collaborating to improve trading, or mobile phone brands collaborating to share components, logistics and manufacturing processes to improve time-to-market;
- Cross-industry partners across industries with regulators. For example, regulatory approval in the airline industry between the airline, original equipment manufacturer [OEM], and authorities. Or stakeholders across the healthcare / pharma / retail / regulatory ecosystems to improve the efficacy of vaccines in the Pandemic.
- Technology and business services partners. These must fall under the CPXO to plug critical skills and technology gaps that are increasingly needed (with immediacy) in today’s talent-constrained environment. This is where we envisage a huge cross-over with the transformation leader’s role, where services partners are increasingly critical to driving change at speed. The CPXO must ensure his/her services partners truly understand (and are embedded) in their core business and understand what their clients – and other key partners – need to collaborate effectively.
- Hyperscaler partners. The increasing influence of Microsoft, Amazon, Google – and others – is becoming significant across all partner ecosystems. For example, if you are in the consumer goods or retail businesses, you cannot survive without strong engagement with the Amazon channel. The same is happening where all these hyperscalers control your scalability with the cloud, your security, your data and so on. They have become huge influencers and enablers of the virtual business, and there is nowhere to hide from them.
The Bottom-line: The old way of running businesses is fast eroding as we rethink what constitutes success and ambition
Did you ever think your enterprise could move to a 100% work-from-home environment with less than three weeks’ notice? This crisis era of constant change has forced businesses to flex – vastly accelerating the OneEcosystem environment, dramatically cutting redundancies and improving processes at scale. There is a massive amount of change happening, and out of change comes real transformation. After years and years of complacency due to the relentless growth (and papering over the cracks of 2008), all of today’s organizations now finally have a burning platform to change how they operate globally. In fact, the platform is positively on fire!