The Future of the Executive Suite

It’s no secret that the way we think about business is rapidly changing. In fact, with advents such as the gig economy, blockchain, and corporate social responsibility, organizations look far different than they did just a decade ago. As new generations continue to drive disruption, even bigger shifts loom on the horizon. These continued shifts will have important implications not only on how businesses operate but how they’re led as well.

Shifting Values in the C-Suite

Traditionally, the C-suite had one goal: maximize profits. However, this goal is shifting as a new generation takes charge; millennials look at the value created by businesses in a more holistic sense, emphasizing virtues such as social responsibility, environmental protection, and healthy lifestyles.

With this in mind, the C-Suite must now look beyond financial performance, focusing on creating organizational cultures that promote ethics, sustainability, and wellness if they hope to engage with younger audiences.

Moving Towards New Organizational Structures

Beyond emphasizing these new values, many millennials don’t see much utility in traditional leadership structures as a whole; over one-third of millennials believe that in less than ten years the role of CEO will no longer be relevant in its current format. Instead, they foresee power within organizations becoming more decentralized through flattened organizational structures. Many companies, such as Zappos, have already adopted such models.

Many speculate that as organizations eschew hierarchies, middle management roles will be cut out entirely. Instead, companies will focus on hiring more high-level executives at the top and more freelance contractors at the bottom.

In this way, organizations will get smaller, consolidating to a core of highly trained, executive-level experts.

Expanding the Executive Suite

This change will bring many new players into the C-suite who will sit alongside traditional players such as the CEO, CFO, CMO, COO and CIO. Here are some of the titles that we can soon expect to be mainstream in the executive suite:

Chief Freelance Relations Officer

Did you know that as of 2014, 34% of the U.S. workforce consisted of freelance workers? On top of that, it’s projected that by 2020, that number will increase to 50%. With so many companies increasing their dependence on outsourced labor, it’s only a matter of time before an executive officer is responsible for maintaining and growing freelance partnerships.

Chief User Experience Officer

As Steve Jobs showed us, user experience is paramount when it comes to technology. Now, thanks in part to companies like Apple, we simply expect all products to be intuitive, seamlessly integrating with our lives. As we become increasingly dominated by technology, shaping how we interact with new hardware and software is supreme. So, it’s easy to see how companies will prioritize user experience through this role in the future.

Chief Automation Officer

These days, the fear that robots will take over the world is no longer just a far-out sci-fi fantasy. In fact, with rapid advancements in AI and machine learning, automation is on everyone’s mind. Be it tracking job applications, entering data, working in a factory, or even just making coffee in the office, there are countless tasks that machines will soon do on our behalf.

So, it stands to reason executives will soon be tasked with assessing their company as a whole, looking for ways to increase efficiency, save money, and ultimately gain a competitive advantage.

Chief Privacy Officer

It wasn’t too long ago that many were up in arms about Facebook’s privacy scandal with Cambridge Analytica. That news has since catapulted this issue of privacy to the forefront of the conversation in the tech world.

With 90% of people in a survey reporting that they are very concerned about internet privacy and 86% believing that transparency from businesses is now more important than ever, companies are compelled to make their terms of service a bit less cryptic.

However, consumers aren’t the only ones worried about their privacy. With the rise of salary history bans, it’s clear that employees want their information protected as well. So, we can expect that a Chief Privacy Officer might soon be in charge of safeguarding both consumer and employee data, ensuring its for ethical use.

Chief Intellectual Property Officer

With more companies producing products and web content, intellectual property law is becoming an increasingly important subject. Companies will need to protect both their own intellectual property, while simultaneously making sure that they’re not infringing on others. To do so, it’s likely that they’ll have a team dedicated to this cause, with a Chief Intellectual Property Officer at its head.

Change is Inevitable

Via the force of a rapidly evolving marketplace, change is inevitable, and ultimately, good. With progress comes the possibility to increase efficiency, promote innovation and make our lives better. However, as with all great initiatives, change doesn’t happen without leaders. So, if you think that any of the ideas outlined here could improve your company, know that making changes now will put you ahead of the curve in the future.

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