Why The COO Charter Needs To Evolve For A Technology-Driven Future

Ryan Poggi

At a time when the market is demanding that companies constantly evolve, the evolution of change within the C-suite is becoming a critical factor for success.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the role of the COO. Once viewed as operationally focused, the role now demands visionary insight and the ability to read and act on external forces in tandem with the ongoing pursuit of greater efficiency. COOs today have a clear opportunity to help define the strategy that underpins their company’s purpose and then take the lead in implementing it.

The ability to adapt to change is critical to translating strategic vision into action. No longer simply internally focused, COOs now need to partner with sales and marketing to develop a deep understanding of customers’ ever-evolving needs, and then ensure the organization can fulfill those demands in a way that meets or exceeds customer expectations while monetizing the delivery in a profitable and efficient way. For COOs, it’s now about building trust not only with internal stakeholders across the business but also with customers, partners, and suppliers, ensuring there are infrastructure and back-end processes that elevate customer experiences.

Customers’ expectations are growing ever more demanding, cultivated from their interactions with organizations beyond a particular industry sector. For COOs, the need to harness cross-industry best practices and apply them in a dynamic way to the business has never been more important. COO’s can no longer afford to be confined by the benchmarks within their industry. To help deliver a high-performing consumer-focused organization, COO’s need to look beyond.

A technology-driven future

To position the organization for growth, successful COOs need to be masters of change, able to adapt constantly in a fast-changing digital landscape, in an environment of heightened customer expectations. There’s a need to be highly flexible and agile, constantly having to prepare for the future while retaining a sharp focus on efficiency and managing present priorities.

This is no small job.

A better way of doing things

Mastering digital transformation is not simply digitalizing the way you do business, but constantly asking, “How is the game evolving, and what do we need to do differently to get ahead of it?” Success in a digital age rarely comes from merely providing the same products and services through a digital pipeline.

When Apple introduced the iPod and the iTunes Music Store, it completely changed the way we listen to and purchase music by digitizing the whole process. Gone was the need to have your own collection of physical CDs. Gone was the need for you to think about what you wanted to listen to ahead of time. The iPod gave you a much more efficient way to store and access all your favorite tunes.

But it was simply digitizing an existing business model by delivering music through a digital pipeline. This was only the starting point. Soon, new digital-native competitors emerged to change the shape of the industry.

With the likes of Spotify, the way consumers experience music has changed. Instead of music ownership, the Swedish company is selling access to digital music. Spotify’s streaming subscription service sets itself apart by leveraging technology to offer slick playlists and finely-targeted song suggestions, with new levels of convenience, accessibility, and data-driven personalization. This, in turn, drives discovery and engagement.

In fact, streaming platforms like Spotify are now the music industry’s single largest revenue source and have effectively rendered the purchase and collection of albums, whether in physical or digital form, obsolete.

Of course, it’s not just the music industry – digital transformation is disrupting many industries:

  • Uber created the world’s largest ride-sharing service without buying vehicles or hiring drivers
  • eBay reinvented the retail channel without buying any inventory
  • Netflix cornered the home entertainment industry without buying any DVDs 

Driving greater value

As a COO, you need to think about making digital transformation a core operating principle for everyday business transactions. Rather than simply digitalizing procurement payment processes, you adopt real-time collaboration with suppliers to negotiate savings and best-value contracts. Where you have hundreds of suppliers to manage, extending supply chain collaboration to direct and indirect materials sourcing processes will give you comprehensive supply chain visibility and faster sourcing cycles.

It comes as no surprise that the most intelligent enterprises are built on connected supply chains where they can manage their spend from end to end in a smart and coordinated way.

Connecting the dots

 In the face of ever-changing demand, driven by evolving customer behaviors, market volatility, and new service delivery models enabled by disruptive technologies, innovating and using technology more effectively will be critical. COOs will be expected to match technology investments with short-and long-term strategic objectives.

As more companies experiment with technology to drive greater value for their customers, suppliers, and business partners, COOs must be able to identify organizational needs and match them with innovative solutions that support their organization. An important first step is creating a vision for the intelligent enterprise.

With your charter to ensure your organization’s operating principles are entrenched to solve your most complex business challenges, you need a technology platform in place that allows you to set the foundation for the intelligent enterprise—one that enables your team with:

  • Powerful analytical tools
  • A single version of the truth
  • The foundation to deploy, build, launch, and evolve intelligent applications into the future.

By establishing the right digital core as the foundation, you can take your first steps in your digital transformation journey not by moving your organization from A to B, but moving straight to C while already planning for Z.

For more insight on digital strategies, see Simplification And Innovation: The Bimodal Approach To Digital Transformation.

Ryan Poggi

About Ryan Poggi

Ryan has held senior executive roles across some of the fastest growing global markets throughout Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia. In his current role as SAP’s Chief Operating Officer for United Kingdom and Ireland, he is responsible for the development and execution of SAP’s go-to-market and sales strategies, ensuring consistent growth across the region. Previously, Ryan was the COO for SAP's Digital Core Business across Asia Pacific and Japan and Managing Director at SAP Philippines. Over the course of his career, Ryan has gained a wealth of experience in leading and growing large-scale multi-complex businesses and has excelled at helping companies understand the business value of technology. A regular contributor and speaker, Ryan is passionate about purpose-driven business and improving people’s lives through innovative technology. Find Ryan on Twitter @RyanPoggi