Often the second-highest C-suite executive after the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Operating Officers (COOs) are responsible for ensuring that all the company’s day-to-day operations run smoothly. However, modern COOs need to focus on more than just the numbers and profitability of their business. Instead, they must consider the newly emerging elements of the market to ensure the long-term survival and success of the company.
Today, more and more companies are seeing their existing business models challenged by innovative, inventive competitors, more demanding customers, and new regulatory requirements. As a result, it is becoming more crucial than ever to evolve with the times or get left behind. COOs must take all of this into account and develop new strategies that position the company for growth and sustainable success.
Since the advent of the pandemic, many companies have experienced a complete market shift. Consumer behaviour has changed dramatically over the past two years, causing a significant increase in online shopping, demand for services, and customer expectations.
With consumers demanding more, for example faster delivery of goods at any time of day, companies are being driven to update business models or implement new ones that support current trends — something COOs are required to spearhead. Companies can achieve this by leveraging emerging technologies such as customer communication tools and cloud team management. With these new technologies, COOs can support the new product and service requirements of their business through varied omnichannel delivery that would have engulfed conventional, outdated systems.
However, these new technologies come with their own associated risks. Alongside their other responsibilities, COOs must also consider the potential for cybercrimes including hacking, fraud, and cyber extortion. They’re responsible for introducing protective measures that safeguard the company from potentially devastating attacks, which often lead to crippling financial and reputational damage.
Overcoming The Talent Crisis
To keep hold of vital top-tier talent and encourage the transformation of the commercial marketplace, COOs must build a mutually beneficial relationship with their constantly-changing workforce. With the talent crisis faced by many companies today, COOs face intense pressure from their fellow board members to reduce costs and increase productivity. However, due to the way that current fundamental trends are restructuring the working world, the modern COO must rethink and reprioritise their values regarding working relationships.
For example, COOs can use the trend for remote and part-time working as a strategic advantage, and specifically lean into these new, flexible working practices. While this may not directly reflect on business profitability, greater job satisfaction and higher staff retention will no doubt impact the company in a favourable way.
Looking To The Future
It is essential for the modern COO to look beyond the initial business stakes of numbers and profitability. Instead, they must have the wherewithal to anticipate and prioritise the changing needs of the global marketplace and adapt their operational processes as required. Their responsibilities not only lie in the financial success of the company, but in the ability to evaluate and introduce new technologies that optimise efficiency while maintaining a healthy interdependent relationship with their workforce.