Woman and man in a discussion
  • Miriam Hernandez-Kakol, Leadership |

For me, one of the standout themes in this year’s Global CEO Outlook is that CEOs are taking personal responsibility for the transformation of their organization.

We are living in an age of disruption, driven by rapidly emerging technologies and changing business models. Organizations need to transform to survive. CEOs are personally stepping up to the challenge.

A majority of CEOs (79 percent) say they are personally responsible for overseeing a greater cross-functional alignment across the business, in a way their predecessors were not.

Additionally, over eight in ten CEOs said they are personally leading their organization’s technology strategy.

I welcome this. It’s a clear sign that that CEOs understand just how high the stakes are. They know that business as usual is not enough in today’s environment. So, they are upping the tempo and becoming actively engaged across the business, ensuring the drive to transform the organization keeps gathering momentum and is unwavering

This doesn’t mean micro-managing, however. The leaders of different functions within the business must be able to make operational decisions. But CEOs are getting involved in strategic decisions and are making sure that changes being executed are in line with the end vision and not in siloes

They’re also right on point with the areas they’re taking responsibility for. Ensuring alignment across the business is essential to becoming what we call a Connected Enterprise where front, middle and back offices work seamlessly together to deliver on the customer promise.

This is imperative in an age where customer expectations are higher than ever before. This is an age of transparency. Lack of consistency, lack of responsiveness, lack of intentional experiences are easily exposed. The entire customer journey must be personalized, integrated and easy. Hand-offs between different functions such as sales, marketing and service must be smooth and, where possible, automated.

There is also a strong cost perspective: Disconnected services requiring manual processes and corrections are more expensive to run. In an age where organizations are having to invest significantly in new technologies such as automation and AI, these are additional costs they literally cannot afford.

Let’s not forget attracting and retaining talent. Today’s new generation of Millennials in particular expect to have the same kind of digitally enabled environment at work as they do in their personal lives. Businesses that can’t provide this will find it harder than ever to attract and keep the talent they rely on. Employee journeys need to mirror customer experience at its best.

When you think of the big disruptions we’ve seen in recent years, whether that’s fintech or ride-hailing to name just two, technology is always at the heart. CEOs know they must embrace technology to propel the business forward and be real enablers of change.

Dealing with disruption is difficult, requiring agility and resilience. But at the same time, it brings huge opportunity to those that can exploit it.

CEOs recognize that they must lead from the front to make it happen. I have been struck by how many of the CEOs that I work with are now dynamically involved across the business, getting out into the field with employees, meeting customers, interacting with stakeholders, investors and the media, communicating openly on social media, using their voice to affect social responsible change.They are setting the tone at the top and leading by example, cascading this approach down through the organization.

CEOs are making disruption personal.

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