We have entered the second era of rapid digital growth and development. Changes in technology are having a profound impact on the way we do business. In a "remote" world, companies are finding new ways to bring their customers closer without a physical presence.
In this context, the role of the COO is changing. They must be able to not only manage traditional operational activities but also understand and embrace new technologies. They must be able to discover and implement smart digital solutions to compete in this new landscape of total digitization.
The New Era of Digital
With the proliferation of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices, people can conduct transactions and interact with businesses from anywhere at any time. This has led to a need for companies to have a stronger online presence and has created opportunities for businesses to expand beyond their traditional boundaries.
Digital payments are the norm, and the way people make them is changing too. Digital wallets, such as Apple Pay and Google Pay, are becoming more popular, and businesses are increasingly accepting them as a form of payment. "Venmo me" has entered the lexicon, and people are increasingly expecting to pay for things with the flick of a finger. Additionally, the use of cryptocurrency is on the rise, and businesses are starting to explore the possibilities of using it as a payment method as well.
The growth of digital has also led to the advent of the "metaverse." This concept of an interconnected digital world where users can interact and communicate via virtual avatars is opening up a whole new realm of commercial possibilities. Although the metaverse as envisioned by the CEO of Meta (formerly known as Facebook), does not yet exist in its entirety, businesses are already starting to explore the possibilities of virtual offices.
Integration and personalisation across all forms of customer interaction are becoming essential for businesses that want to provide a seamless and satisfying customer experience. This includes traditional channels such as call centres and retail stores, alongside newer channels such as social media and chatbots.
In this digital world, the customer experience (CX) has become the new battleground. Companies are now competing based on CX and looking for new ways to use technology to gain a strategic data-driven advantage. AI is playing a key role in this area too, and businesses are increasingly relying on it for help with areas such as customer service, marketing, and forecasting.
The COO of the Future
As a COO, it's easy to get lost in the day-to-day operations of the business. But to achieve long-term success, there’s a greater need than ever to keep an eye on the digital horizon. Flexibility, agility, and the ability to adapt will define the COO of the future. It will be essential for them to rapidly respond to changes in the business and digital environment, and pivot when necessary.
The COO of the future will need to be a true digital visionary, with the ability to see opportunities where others cannot. If they can envision the long-term goals of the business, they will be able to implement the right digital tools to help the organisation get there. They will need to understand and utilise cutting-edge technologies and have the foresight to know how these will impact the long-term future of the business. They must also be able to integrate these technologies seamlessly into the company's operations.
To achieve all of this, they can't just be a digital explorer — they need to be a digital disrupter. This means that they will require a diverse skill set that allows them to keep up with the ever-changing digital landscape. They won't just be navigating the waters of change, but also setting the course and charting the future path for their business. The COO of the future will need to be a true leader in the digital age.