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As a business evolve, so do the roles and responsibilities of its leadership team. For years, there has been discussion about the evolving role of CEOs, but the conversation is accelerating. The entire C-Suite is evolving.

To keep up with the emerging challenges businesses face today, the role of an executive is becoming increasingly more fluid. In this article, we will look at what the C-Suite used to be and what it’s becoming.

While differences are to be expected across business leadership roles, in recent years, a greater need for flexibility has presented itself.

Rapid advancements in technology have created an entirely new normal for workplace culture, demands, and challenges. Without proper expertise or training, many of the obstacles businesses face cannot be settled by a traditional board.

Emerging demands have created opportunities for the formation of new roles and the adjustments of others. Let’s start at the top of the executive chain.

1. Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

A thorough adoption of technology is essential for success in our hyper-digital world. Despite the fact most CEOs didn’t get where they are because of their technical background or expertise, the modern CEO should possess an expert set of digital capabilities and knowledge of how to drive innovation across their business model.

Working knowledge of emerging tech, such as artificial intelligence and the cloud and their impacts on the workforce, is becoming increasingly essential for managing a modern-day company.

CEOs should also understand cybersecurity. Over the past few years, the world has watched numerous companies fall victim to cyber-attacks, putting customers’ and employees’ data at risk.

Although nearly 60 percent of CEOs feel personally responsible for the protection of their customers’ data and recognize the potential consequences they face should an attack happen under them, the emphasis for stronger cybersecurity policy in this role is vital.  

2. Chief Information Officer (CIO)

Forrester has claimed 2019 as the year of reckoning for CIOs. Expanding upon the traditional role to fully step up and take greater ownership of the digital and technological innovation of a business is expected out of the modern CIO.

Due to technological advancements and improved accessibility, there is an increased level of competition among tech-forward companies. As a result, CIOs today are expected to offer a larger range of abilities. Moving forward, we can expect those holding the role of CIO to have not only to be business savvy but also have experience with analytics, budgeting, and maintaining a scalable infrastructure.

With more and more companies working toward global growth, the challenge many of them face involves “reducing costs and increasing innovation,” as Oracle’s Mark Hurd explains in his assessment of the evolving CIO role.

“To meet these goals, there needs to be a greater emphasis on evaluating the necessary technology for tech-driven business innovation. And, that requires the people evaluating the technology to be business leaders,” as Forrester VP Michael Barnes said.

CIOs today must learn to walk the fine line between ownership and reliance on trusted IT operators and vendors.

3. Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Traditionally, the role of CFO has been centered around financial reporting, company performance, and managing company checks and balances. However, in modern years, the role has inevitably changed.

Enterprise companies’ financials have become increasingly complex and require additional accounting leads, allowing the CFO to take on a more strategic role. This coordination between accounting teams and CFOs will become increasingly common if companies want to keep pace with global growth and changing customer needs.

As technology advances, CFOs will have to lead their organizations’ adoption of new processes and technologies to support top-line growth.

In 2019, CFOs will need to prove they are financed focused and businesses focused. Delivering strategic insight toward effective corporate risk management alongside financial reporting will be the future CFO’s goal.


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4. Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)

While amid a digital transformation, the role of CMO faces a pivotal moment. In the right organization, today’s CMO is poised to leverage modern technology for long-term success. To meet consumers’ demands for omnichannel, personalized interactions, 2019 is the year CMOs will be focused on creating seamless digitized experiences.

Choosing the right technologies to best benefit customers and their businesses will be the leading factor in increasing ROI. Moving forward, big data will be the driving force behind an effective CMO.

Tomorrow’s C-Suite: The Newcomers

Moving beyond the traditional C-suite, today’s current state of enterprise growth and modern challenges is likely to lead to the creation of new positions within the suite. Departments such a human resources and IT will likely be the first additions to the future C-suite.

5. Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO)

For some companies, the inclusion of an HR representative in the C-suite is established. They may go by the title of Chief Human Resources Offer, Chief People Officer, or Chief Talent Officer. However, in traditional organizations, HR is viewed primarily as an administrative role due to its historical focus around paperwork and processes.

In today’s world, however, businesses are faced with new issues, workplace demographics, and public scrutiny that impact the entire company.

Public events such as the #MeToo movement have given greater attention to the department than ever before, causing companies to pay more attention to the wellbeing and professional development of their employees. These situations, in combination with the fact HR, is responsible for determining the future needs of a company in regards to required candidate skill sets, bring attention to the need for a strategic, forward-thinking executive.

HR leaders of 2019 will need experience in handling more diverse demographics as company environments continue to blend boomers, millennials, and Generation Z employees, all with varying needs and contributions.

6. Chief Cyber Security Officer (CCSO)

The increased frequency of cyberattacks over the past few years has shed light on the fact everyone is at risk.

Devastating effects of ransomware and data breaches on major organizations have led to the implementation of cybersecurity precautions for big and small businesses alike. As management teams are hyper-aware of the risk they face from an attack on their watch, there is a growing need for expert advisory.

For many companies, this currently involves a team of in-house IT professionals or an outsourced team or both.

A CCSO position would be responsible for overseeing security teams and providing an executive look at the current priorities, including cyber intelligence, data loss prevention, security architecture, and identity and program management.

With so many facets to a thorough security plan, a lack of governance from a CCSO can lead to miscommunications and a lack of insights and training for chief executives.

As the world changes, so do business operations. In our fast-paced, hyper-connected society, companies are facing more opportunities, challenges, and scrutinization than ever before. For organizations to withstand these changes, the C-suite has to expand.  

Written By
Maddie Davis is co-founder of Enlightened Digital and a tech-obsessed female from the Big Apple. She lives by building and redesigning websites, running marathons, and reading anything and everything on the NYT Best Sellers list.

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