By, Stuart R. Levine
Published in Credit Union Times

We continue to address foundational ways to increase leadership capacity by focusing on mission, ethics and values and innovation. Combined with effective strategic communication, leaders establish trust, engagement, accountability and collaboration with employees and build strong relationships with customers and members.

IBM’s March 2013 white paper from the IBM Institute for Business Value, Connecting More—Intersecting Insights from the IBM CEO, CMO and CIO Studies is based on 6,600 face-to-face interviews with global C-suite executives. It provides deep insights into the challenges of aligning senior executives around these key issues.

CEOs communicated that the leadership skills most needed in employees today and in the future were collaboration, communication, creativity and flexibility.

Most CEOs interviewed by IBM listed technology and people as their two top strategic priorities. IBM found that technology leaders and organizations that focus on employees and emphasize openness tend to outperform their industry peers in both revenue growth and profitability.

Technology includes understanding social networks, mobile data and digital media, utilizing the cloud and effectively employing the related data explosion. Emphasizing openness includes breaking down silos and empowering employees to collaborate, innovate, be creative and engage in a two-way conversation with the customer.

As organizations become more open, CEOs recognize the critical need for organizational values and a clear sense of purpose to guide decisions and actions. Mission and values statements are not just words on a page. They need to be understood and embraced by everyone in the organization and should be employed for strategic decision-making. They are important in creating, building and sustaining your organization’s culture.

The chief marketing officer is becoming much more involved with defining and managing both internal culture and brand reputation as well communicating it externally. Most CMOs, however, recognize that substantial work is required to have employees embrace and live the corporate culture.

Chief information officers can help manage openness and sharing of information by working with CMOs to enhance and improve the total customer or member experience by drawing on big data’s power. Knowing your customer or member is expanding well beyond the traditional market segment statistics and statistical inferences that CMOs traditionally have used. Transaction records plus volumes of other available information, which has been more of the CIO’s domain, can substantively augment the traditional information for the CMO now as well.

An overwhelming majority of CMOs interviewed expect that customer analytics, social media and mobile apps will be increasingly employed. Questions arise, however, on how managing in a social environment and incorporating social feedback in a meaningful way can best drive revenue growth. This is a challenge and an opportunity for both CMOs and CIOs to creatively collaborate. IBM found that outperforming organizations surpass their peers in capabilities to access and draw insights from data, translate insights and apply to business strategy and effectively engage employees and customers.

Most of the CEOs surveyed saw that increasing innovation was critical for their organization and they believed that external partnering is increasingly more important. Outperforming organizations are investing significantly more in partnering relationships. Rapid and continuous change will remain and openness increases information access and collaboration. IBM found that CMOs and CIOs felt that new skill mixes including effectively employing social media and big data are needed to address these challenges. They foresee a dramatic increase in external partnering and investing in a portfolio of relationships to achieve long-term business objectives.

CEO, CMO and CIO C-suite alignment is a shared obligation. CEOs can demonstrate and enable organizational openness by establishing, recognizing and rewarding collaboration across the enterprise. CMOs can jump-start efforts related to new technologies, including how data should infuse the organizational decision-making and be employed by partners. CIOs can introduce technological tools and opportunities for more creative collaboration especially through partnering. As IBM states: the chief data officer is in everyone’s job description.