Shakeups in the “C Suite”: Hail to the New Chiefs


When Facebook announced its new timeline for brands format, one of my friends in advertising commented, “Wow, if you think about it, in one fell swoop, Facebook has basically elevated the Community Manager role as the most important job function at any agency large or small.”

I thought about it for a second and realized that what my friend was saying was correct. Technological innovation has empowered corporate community managers—what were once the servants of creative directors, strategists, and planners—to become true brand gurus. The masters of Facebook realized that the power in a brand page had always been driven by the community manager. No longer simply a Web page to maintain, an organization’s Facebook presence creates a narrative, an advertisement that is also a relatable story.

Businesses 35 years ago barely had marketing departments. Most relied on sales departments to do that job. The title of chief marketing officer (CMO) is relatively new; it became necessary when companies needed a “voice of the consumer” working internally. So now as social communities grow and flourish, the role of community manager will become commonplace.

New job title creation happens every few years as technological shifts force change in work functions. Here are a few more additions to the “C Suite” that we might anticipate as technological and economic trends shape the corporate future.

Earned Media Officer, or EMO, will be one new role. We’ve been hearing a lot in recent years about the “Paid, Owned, Earned” model of marketing. (Examples: magazine ads are “paid,” Web sites are “owned,” and word-of-mouth buzz is “earned.”) Many companies want to move away from the “paid” silo and strictly operate in the “owned” and “earned” areas. Buying a TV commercial based on impressions (how many viewers might be watching—but also might be ignoring) makes little sense when a company can get customer engagement for half the price in an earned environment. Example: having a home-made video contest for the company’s Facebook fans and featuring the winner on its official Web site.

This is why a major fortune 500 company cut several thousand traditional marketing jobs recently. Its attitude is, why pay for something that we can get free? However, it is still an illusion that earned media is a free channel. Once companies realize that earned media is the dominant business model moving forward, the EMO will be in charge of exploiting this fact and pushing earned media impressions and engagement.

Chief Content Officer, or CCO, will emerge as marketing moves from the creation of 60-second television spots to the development of rich content for various social channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Tumblr. The CCO will work hand-in-hand with community managers to see that they are getting the right type of content for the brand they oversee for all the channels in which they need to publish. I see many former film producers, magazine publishers, and photographers fitting nicely into this role, as long as they have a handle on the emerging media landscape.

Open-Source Manager, or OSM, would collaborate and share best practices with outside companies. In the future, the title and role of CEO will have much less credibility as Wall Street is drained of its power. As a result, an executive who works both internally and externally with open-source talent to find the best solutions will become a key player. Future companies will all be open sourced and focused on building a better standard of living. As a result, a CEO whose main primary focus is to earn capital and return investment to shareholders won’t be necessary.

Chief Linguist may be a new role that doesn’t replace anyone but is necessary to interpret how people speak within the world of social networks. We’re used to interpreting shorthand expressions like LOL, BRB, IDK, and BTW (laughing out loud; be right back; I don’t know; by the way). As future generations only learn to type within a 140-character limit, new slang will emerge, and it will be up to the linguist to configure the best way to communicate with the company’s audience.

Chief Data Scientist will expand on the chief marketing officer or the chief digital officer’s role by harnessing their analytical skills enabling them to understand what to do with the emergence of big data. As a result, CMOs will evolve into mathematicians who can crunch data to make sense of human behavior. In the future, it will be more important to interpret behavior that will be measured via analytics. It won’t be enough to simply plot a digital course of action. One must execute the action, code it, create it, and interpret its impacts.

Even if we see these job titles emerge, how long will they last in the shifting workplace? As we move away from military-style hierarchies toward flattened, cooperative systems, it could be that the collaborative, open source, work-from-anywhere landscape puts even these titles out of commission. Only the future can tell.

Courtesy of the World Future Society,

Geoffrey Colon is vice president of Social@Ogilvy and editor of the Futurist Lab on Tumblr.