c-suite arrivistes: understanding new executive roles in the context of digital disruption.

From data wranglers to customer relations advocates, the historically staid C-suite has been infiltrated by a host of new roles and titles recently, many of which didn’t exist just five years ago. Here’s a brief sampling of some surprising recent coinages, as well as a short explanation of what each role entails:

  • chief administrative officer: essentially plays the role of executive assistant to multiple C-suite executives within an organization
  • chief chatter officer: call center leader
  • chief data officer: ensures data is being leveraged for valuable business insights
  • chief ecosystem officer: monitors and managers industry dynamics and partnerships
  • chief freelance relationship manager: oversees contingent, freelance and gig economy employees
  • chief privacy officer: responsible for protecting data and maintaining compliance with relevant regulations


Certainly, some of these new executive titles may be little more than passing fads. Wherever a flashy title has simply been retrofitted for a well-established role, we should be wary.

Considered collectively, however, these new C-suite titles represent a signal change that’s more than simply a reshuffling of traditional org charts. Instead, these roles reflect a constellation of much deeper shifts, particularly around workforce models and business priorities. And these are likely only going to intensify and accelerate in the years ahead. Let’s turn to look at those trends in greater detail and forecast the longevity of some of the new C-suite titles associated with each.  

increased focus on customer experience

Customer experience is an increasingly important differentiator for companies today, and it’s an area where even greater investment is expected in the years ahead. Considering the fact that organizations with leading customer experience scores outperformed their counterparts on the S&P 500 by nearly 80 percent, such an investment makes a lot of sense.

The forecast, then, is clear: Customer experience officers are here to stay, with new titles likely to emerge in the coming years as well. At the end of the day, after all, your chief chatter officer and your chief listener are really just two sides of the same customer experience coin.

greater emphasis on data as a driver of business value

Big data is creating new sources of business value, enabling companies to create more personalized products and make more relevant recommendations than ever before. And for marketers, specifically, greater personalization can improve performance across the board. Personalized email campaigns, for example, have been shown to deliver as much as an eight percent increase in revenue.

For these reasons and more, the majority of executives today believe that leveraging big data is crucial to driving business outcomes, according to Accenture. And that, in turn, means competition for chief data officers and other data-oriented executives who can harness data to drive business value will only increase in the future.  

increased reliance on new workforce models

New workforce models have radically reshaped the way most organizations today think about talent in the context of their business goals. Already, for example, fewer than half of organizations today report having workforces that are primarily composed of salaried employees, according to Deloitte. And this trend is likely to intensify: 61 percent of employers today are looking to convert more full-time permanent positions into jobs for independent contractors, freelancers and temporary workers. Many employers expect to dramatically increase their dependence on contract, freelance and gig workers over the next few years.

At the same time, while big data will open up new revenue streams, it will also create new risks — and a new class of risk professionals will become a fixture of the C-suite as a result.

unprecedented security risks related to data

As we’ve discussed, massive amounts of sensitive consumer data may create new opportunities for insights and business value, but this data brings enormous organizational risks, as well. The average cost of a single data breach for companies in the U.S. right now is estimated to be as high as $7.91 million — and that’s a strong indicator that chief privacy officers are here to stay. What’s more, regulatory changes like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which went into effect last year in Europe, will demand large-scale organizational change and considerable C-suite buy-in. So look for executives who specialize in data privacy and related fields to be highly in demand going forward.

is your organization ready?  

Not all recent C-suite arrivals are here to stay — as we have seen, some of the latest flashy titles are little more than passing fads. But others, particularly those linked to underlying shifts in business priorities and workplace models, will be around for the long haul. And in an already tight labor market, finding skilled talent to fill these vital roles will be an increasingly urgent challenge for many organizations.

That’s why best-in-class companies turn to Tatum. No matter how complex your executive talent needs may be, get in touch with us today to learn how we can help you achieve them — and ensure that your business continues to grow and thrive in the age of digital disruption.