Explaining Tech’s C-Suite Revolution

by Mondo on July 23, 2015
C-Suite Revolution

It used to be that the C-Suite was a predefined group of corporate influencers, with each company comprising theirs in a similar fashion. Traditionally, C-Suites consisted of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Operations Officer (COO), and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), with the latter three reporting directly to the CEO.


This corporate leadership structure is now a relic of the past, with even the most conventional companies including a wide array of high ranking executives on their payroll. The C-Suite first started to change during the digital revolution, once CEOs saw the undeniable influence of modern technology. Soon the need for leadership from technology-minded thinkers became glaringly apparent, causing companies of all sizes to take action.


In recent years, Chief Information Officers (CIO) and Chief Technology Officers (CTO) have earned a place at the table, and are now considered standard additions to many executive boards. But it doesn’t stop there, and with C-Suite options sounding more and more like a bowl of alphabet soup, companies must decide which leadership roles to bring on board. Their influence—or lack there of—can greatly affect the direction of any company, and must be considered with the utmost care.


Here’s a look at some of the newest members additions to the C-Suite, and how they’re affecting the company at large:


Chief Analytics Officer (CAO) & Chief Data Officer (CDO)

Thanks to the every growing power of technology, the amount of data we gather on a daily basis is truly limitless. With all of this information at our fingertips, companies are becoming more and more tuned in to analytics and their ability to narrow in on marketing demographics, user behavior, etc. Cue these C-Suite additions!


CAOs are responsible for the internal infrastructure needed to generate and analyze data within an organization, whereas CDOS are responsible for how a company actually uses the information received through avenues like data processing, information trading, etc. Love it or hate it, big data is here to stay, and how a company gathers, harnesses, and utilizes this information has a major effect, especially when it comes to digital marketing efforts.


For more information on these two roles, read Fast Company’s 2014 article


Chief Innovation Officer (CINO)

The CINO plays an essential role at the intersection of the CEO, CFO, and CIO, working to push a company forward by applying new technology to existing structures. They’re hybrid problem solvers, working across multiple departments to make a company run smoother, work smarter, and think ahead of the curve by using technology in an intelligent and innovative manner.


While some might think a C-Suite position with the word “Innovation” in the title is just a fleeting trend, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The Chief Innovation Officer Summit is being hosted in San Francisco in Spring 2016 and includes an impressive lineup of speakers from major companies like Hershey, Continental, Citi, and Adobe. Ultimately, in a world where technology is always changing to build better tools for faster results, this role might just be exactly what your company needs.


CWO (Chief Web Officer)

As one of the newest members of the C-Suite, Chief Web Officers are responsible for a company’s internal and external web presence. CWOs specifically deal with design and development elements, and often oversee a company’s entire team of developers, programmers, web designers, webmaster, etc.


CWOs need to be fluent in all coding languages, and often have some web design experience in their pocket so as to collaborate between the design and development teams. This C-Suite addition definitely gives aspirational developers something to shoot for as they work their way up the corporate coding ladder.


Chief Digital Officer (CDO)

In our increasingly digital world, the Chief Digital Officers plays a major role in propelling a company forward amidst an ever changing climate. Specifically, CDOs are responsible for a company’s transformation into the digital arena from their more traditional systems. This can include everything from digital customer experience and corporate branding, to company engagement and community management.


Internally, CDOs are proving exceedingly useful in bridging the gap between Chief Marketing Officers and Chief Information Officers, who sometimes sit at opposite ends of the technology spectrum. CDOs are becoming increasingly popular as companies realize their value in balancing the divide between old-school marketing and cutting-edge technology. They’re also playing an essential role in pushing digital marketing forward, working with CMOs to realize and implement vital digital services like data analytics, social media, search engine optimization, and experience design. The proof is in the results, with innovative CMOs and CDOs that take a modern approach to digital marketing seeing major growth. In fact, Gartner predicts that 25% of businesses will have a CDO on-board by the end of 2015.

There’s no hard and fast rule for what roles should be included in the C-Suite, and what works for one company is no guarantee of success for another. It is, however, important to consider these newer technology-centered roles, and examine whether their leadership could positively affect the results your company is seeing.

About this author (Mondo)