Traditionally, C-Suite titles have been limited to three main titles–the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Operating Officer (COO), and Chief Finance Officer (CFO). But beyond these titles, a crowd of other C-Suite titles has emerged in recent years in an effort to define different roles taken by business savvy intellectuals who are tasked with the responsibility of shaping business success.
Though C-Suite has been viewed as an exclusive club conventionally, it’s increasingly becoming diverse. As businesses grow and become more complex, C-Suites expanded to accommodate new roles. Critical positions such as Chief Human Resources Manager (CHRM) and Chief Information Officer (CIO) gained prominence. The main reasons for the rise of these positions are because of the important roles they play and the evolving nature of business.
The reality is, companies have different demands for C-Suite roles. The type and size of a company are the two main factors that determine the C-Suite selection. Some companies maintain the traditional big three titles, while others diversify their C-Suites to include more members. For instance, multinational brands tend to have bigger executive teams compared to smaller, local companies. In the same way, the needs of a retail company vary from those of a SaaS company.
Bearing this in mind, here are five unique C-Suite titles in 2021:
- Chief Innovation Officer (CINO)
In the modern business world, innovation plays a critical role in driving growth. As such, the Chief Innovation Officer (CINO) title has earned a solid spot in the C-Suite club.
In most organizations, the people who hold this title spend their time conducting market research. Often, they constantly seek to figure out how the company can do what it’s already doing better; they’re always looking for new opportunities to explore.
Most importantly, CINOs play the important role of keeping companies ahead of the competition by maintaining their relevance. They’re always researching new technologies, demographics, and emerging trends in target markets to inform company actions.
The tasks that CINOs perform span the tech and operational practices to help businesses remain relevant.
- Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO)
With environmental sustainability becoming a cross-cutting issue across the globe, consumers are increasingly opting to do business with companies that make environmental responsibility a big deal and treat the planet with respect. This has made many companies introduce the Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) to their C-Suites.
CSOs are often tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that as long as the company operates, it won’t harm the environment in any way. Thus, they operate as stewards of environmental sustainability. Some of the things that these C-Suites do to ensure this include setting up recycling processes for companies and sourcing for Fair Trade materials.
- Chief Experience Officer (CXO)
In today’s business environment, customers value experience more than price and product. The way customers interact with brands leaves a lasting impression on them. Most companies understand this and are increasingly focusing on giving their customers positive experiences.
Customer Experience Officers (CXOs) help companies ensure that the experiences that their customers get are positive and that the people who consume their products or services become brand advocates.
For most multinationals, CXOs are unique additions to the C-Suite club because customer experience matters at every level. Individuals who serve in this position perform a wide range of tasks, including conducting focus group surveys, product testing, product launches, and much more.
Their work requires them to foster collaboration across departments, including product development, marketing, and innovation. This enables them to take customer experience beyond products to create brand ethos.
- Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
Technology plays a significant role in the world we live in today. In fact, technology has become so intertwined with business, it’s difficult to overlook the importance of hiring a Chief Technology Officer (CTO).
Most businesses, particularly big ones, include CTOs in their C-Suite positions to help establish cloud computing and lead the migration process. Though CTO tasks may appear ambiguous in some businesses, it’s among the most critical executive roles.
Some people see CTOs as glorified IT managers, which is far from the truth. On the contrary, the people who hold this position are important contributors to companies. This is because they handle a wide range of tasks–from setting up the digital infrastructure in the business to enhancing digital productivity.
In most companies, CTOs are required to configure the business software ecosystem and make executive decisions concerning data sharing and security. Often, anything that involves technology in the company is moved to the CTO’s desk.
- Chief Product Officer (CPO)
Whether you run a tech startup or a software company, the way your target audience feels about your product offering matters. As such, most companies find it necessary to provide executive oversight on product development. A Chief Product Officer (CPO), sometimes referred to as the Vice President of Product, is responsible for leading the product development aspect of the business. Often, C-Suite executives who carry this title are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that the business has market-ready products that are well-received and distinguished.
With businesses operating in highly competitive environments, CPOs play the critical role of ensuring that companies bring unique products to the market. Their duties cover the entire product life cycle, all the way from conception and development to distribution and product iteration.
In 2021, more companies are expected to have a person in a C-Suite position fully focused on developing revenue-generating products for the business.
As the business environment evolves and customer needs change, modern-day businesses have to adjust their leadership structure to adjust to these changes, hence remaining competitive in the industry. As such, the conventional three-titled C-Suite structure has been changing in recent years.
Companies are continually crafting unique C-Suite titles to provide executive leadership to emerging business aspects such as technology, customer experience, innovation, environmental sustainability, and product development. The introduction of C-Suite titles for these aspects enhances the business’ ability to grow in size and revenue. In 2021, the five C-Suite titles discussed above will gain prominence as businesses seek to stay ahead of the competition.
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