What's the future of the CCO role?
Somewhat belatedly, since it was published in March, I am flagging a new research study, published by the Arthur Page Society (a US based professional association for senior PR and corporate communications executives), which explores the future of the Chief Communications Officer (CCO) role here: http://goo.gl/7VcCTO. The research was led and co-authored by Jon Iwata, SVP of Marketing & Communications at IBM, and Sean O’Neill, outgoing Chief Corporate Relations Officer at Heineken.
Looking at the changes taking place around the CCO and the communications function more broadly, the report identifies three fundamental roles that the CCO of tomorrow will serve:
Role One: The foundational CCO
This is the role that all CCOs or communications directors should be undertaking, though arguably not all are. In essence it is a role that encompasses the fundamental contribution of the CCO: trusted counsellor to the CEO and executive team, ensuring that the external world/environment is brought into the organisation and is factored into decision-making; acting as the curator of corporate character and ensuring that actions and behaviours are aligned with rhetoric and that the organisation behaves responsibly and transparently with the interests and expectations of all stakeholders in mind; communicating honestly and effectively about the enterprise.
Role Two: The CCO as integrator
This is concerned with the CCO’s role to drive cross-functional collaboration and integration around strategic priorities. In this respect the report highlighted relationships with chief information officers on cyber security and digital engagement platforms; HRDs on employee engagement, recruitment and retention; general counsel on risk mitigation.
Role Three: CCO as builder of digital engagement systems
The most challenging aspect of the role, “engaging with individuals to build advocacy at scale”. This concerns the use of data and sophisticated platforms to uncover and pursue new opportunities for broader and more meaningful stakeholder engagement.
To quote the Study, “the new CCO will be a systemic thinker and enterprise strategist, a key hub of the ecosystem and a driver of strategic business outcomes”. It further goes on to say, “the systems that CCOs are being called upon to build require expertise in governance and process, innovation and collaboration, and design and production. Leading enterprises are pioneering the development of digital engagement systems that drive deeper insight and greater capabilities related to business-critical stakeholder engagement activities”.
It makes an interesting and thought provoking read and we would be interested in hearing what communications directors here in the UK and Europe have to say on the report’s findings.