A lot of our work at Harvard focuses on communicating to members of the boardroom. But as tech becomes more and more central to how businesses operate, the make-up of these boards is changing. The C-suite is no longer just the domain of CEOs, CFOs, COOs, CTOs and CIOs – a new generation of tech-focused executives is emerging.

Here are four new C-suite execs that tech firms might want to target:

Chief AI Officer

If a company produces a large amount of data then it’s likely that AI can be used to generate insights out of it and turn it into value. 80% of enterprises are now investing in AI. But to integrate AI into the workplace successfully, businesses must substantially change their strategies.

While many AI projects currently fall under the remit of the CTO, a dedicated role may become necessary as they become more complex and strategically important. According to Forbes, around two-thirds of organisations expect to hire a CAIO in the future.

Chief Automation Officer

Automation has been a hot topic in the tech world for the past couple of years. But a global survey of companies found that 59% agree that automation implemented on an ad hoc basis leads to incompatibility and subsequent inefficiency. Resolving this requires a full-time head of automation to drive widespread change. Their main goal is to implement and manage automation on a macro scale and unify different strategies across the organisation. They are also responsible for taking optimised workflows and applying them throughout the business to improve productivity.

Chief Customer Officer

Customer service is increasingly becoming the key battleground for businesses, as differentiation based on product or price alone becomes harder to sustain. That puts a huge emphasis on understanding customers and responding to – or even anticipating – their needs.

Many senior executives agree that brands are struggling to engage with customers at a personal level right now, which has led to a sharp rise in the numbers of CCOs. Around 80% of CCOs have spent two years or less in the position.

Their job involves knowing all there is to know about customers and analysing the data collated about them to invest wisely for greatest impact. CCOs ensure that every area of a company understands customers’ needs. The challenge for this role has been to justify their value early on, as evidence suggests it takes a minimum of two years for the CCO’s activities to flow through the company and make an impact on results.

Chief Robotics Officer

IDC predicts 35% of leading organisations in health, resources, logistics and utilities will explore the use of robots to automate operations. They have also predicted that 30% of leading organisations will implement a Chief Robotics Officer (CRO) within their business by then.

CROs will ensure business success by overseeing the roll out of robots in the workplace, automating elements of work processes to lower overhead expenses, and ensuring tasks remain in place to be supported and completed by humans. CROs will also work with HR to create and manage roles that attract those with the skills needed for robotics strategies.

 

These are just some of the new C-suite titles floating around the corporate world right now. The challenge for us as communicators is to understand the priorities and problems for these C-level execs, tailoring our messages to resonate with them as effectively as possible. Given how quickly the make-up of boardrooms is changing these days, staying on top of these audiences is a full-time job.

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