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Executive Search in a digital era

04/12/17 Andy Raymond Head of Executive Search

Relationships are central to the success of any business, regardless of the market in which they operate. However, in executive search where intimacy and insight into clients’ needs and an understanding of candidate’s capabilities are paramount, this statement rings even truer.

Today, we live in a world where the information accessed and held on digital devices is fundamental to our everyday lives. Access to information and gaining instant feedback on the go it is now an everyday requirement. However, in a world of digital expectancy, technologies should not replace direct communication and personal engagement, they should be a complimentary tool for strengthening key relationships with clients.

Andy Raymond, Redline Executive Director discusses further: “One of the biggest drivers of growth for our Redline Executive clients is digital. Digital innovation and technology continue to transform virtually all businesses across all regions of the world, and we are seeing an imperative for our clients to acquire and develop digital expertise at the highest levels.”

Digital expertise is no longer optional for corporate leadership. Every conceivable industry sector is compelled to leverage digital technology as a means to communicate and interact with their customers, create new supply chains to deliver products and services, harness data and information about customers and outcomes—it touches every aspect of business. As a business we have seen this translate to tremendous growth as demand has grown for leadership with expertise in digital’s key drivers—social, mobile, big data and cloud computing.

The digital transformation itself has no boundaries, unlike our industry’s traditional sector approach. Our clients desire was that we integrate our expertise in digital board and C-suite leadership across all of our sector and functional practices. We are seeing demand from traditional, non-digital sectors including automotive and financial services, as well as pure-play digital areas including digital media, e-commerce, mobile technology and social media.

In terms of assignments, we are seeing increased demand for senior executive roles to help define the digital strategy at most companies, including Chief Data Officers, Chief Digital Officers and Chief Technology Officers. At the board level, there is demand for digital expertise to help provide oversight and help define the organisation’s digital strategy.

The digital transformation of business has created the need for more specific areas of expertise, regardless of industry sector. The rise of the Chief Digital Officer is perhaps the most rapid, and the most influential role—these leaders work closely with the CEO, the board and the senior team to define the digital strategy and to help integrate digital throughout the organisation. Chief Data Officer is a pivotal role that sits at the intersection of IT, Marketing, R&D and the organisation’s supply chain, responsible for leveraging newly available data and analytics for customer insight, revenue, growth and profitability. Another key role is the Digital Marketing Officer. The influence of mobile and social on organisations has created the imperative for senior marketing officers to possess a keen understanding of digital marketing channels and how to apply data and analytics to branding, marketing and customer service initiatives. In the last year, all of these digital experts have solidified their roles in the C-suite.

How has digital impacted boards of directors?

It is critical that board members help lead the digital transformation and engage with the CEO to develop the most effective digital strategy and talent—and a corporate culture that will support it. Ultimately, boards will need to be able to understand the impact of digital transformation and expertise on the CEO evaluation and succession process.

Boards must therefore possess the relevant competencies, experiences and perspectives to execute their governance duties in the era of digital transformation. This has led to increased demand for “digital directors,” leaders with experience at pure-play digital companies, or digital experts who have helped lead non-digital companies through a digital transformation.

What might be the emerging new functional roles in the next few years?

Adaptability is essential throughout this transformation. Many of the functional roles rising out of today’s digital transformations have not been fully defined and will continue to change as best practices develop. It will be particularly interesting to see what roles develop in non-digital sectors such as energy, industrial, healthcare and automotive, as well as the next iteration of digital media.

As a search professional, this underscores the critical need to understand and leverage the value of human capital—perhaps the only element that remains constant throughout this digital transformation.

Redline Executive are the industry-aligned key partner for C and D suite permanent and interim hiring assignments for the European Technology market. To find out more about our Executive Search Process you can download our Executive Search Brochure here.

For a confidential discussion on Chief Technology Officer job opportunities, please call Andy Raymond – Director on +44 (0)1582 450054 or send an email to ARaymond@RedlineExecutive.com