The role of the Chief Operating Officer (COO) is changing out of pure necessity – and this shift in responsibilities is becoming essential for many organisations. There is an understanding that effective and highly skilled COOs are vital for a company to grow and operate efficiently. To stay competitive in any industry, companies have found themselves at a critical point amid the pandemic – identifying the need for a dramatic change in their business models. Now more than ever, the COO’s vision and propensity to adapt to change are strategic differentiators in the marketplace.

That same belief is pressuring corporations to focus more attention and interest on the value of pairing CEOs with problem-solving COOs who can boost a culture of innovation, agility, and adaptation. We must now examine how this ever-evolving role has changed.

Driving Digital Transformation

Digitalisation and technological innovation are not exclusive to product development, new initiatives, or service – almost every aspect of business is impacted by this. COOs must envision how digital transformation can keep their companies on the cutting edge, driving improved value and increasing customer satisfaction. Most modern COOs are finding it difficult to implement the correct technology to create an organisation that is efficient enough to adapt and grow in an ever-changing business world.

Organisations that have a primary focus on change and innovation are predominantly market leaders, while those that react to competitors will find themselves at risk. This is a prime example of a key change in the role in recent years – and a technologically focused and skilled COO can make all the difference. The role has evolved, with the modern COO needing to be familiar with new perspectives of technologies that will change the way their respective business operates. With growing frequency, the COO spearheads the strategic business planning and transformation function, which converts corporate-level plans into a set of discrete change initiatives. As a transformation champion, the COO is held accountable for driving investments that transform the business.

Shifting Reporting Structures

The modern COO has a high level of visibility and accountability within the organisation, including its reporting structures. Gone are the days when the COO has excellent business and relationship acumen but lacks technology expertise. In today’s world, the COO must use their leadership skills to ensure their business utilises the best technology while maintaining the right level of risk to make the organisation safe.

Long-term strategy

Along with their core duties, the modern COO is required to understand the impact of technology on the entire organisation. Most COOs in 2021 are finding it difficult to implement the correct technology to create an organisation that is flexible to adapt to the ever-changing business world. To be adaptive, organisations need to develop and test multiple business models. The modern COO should capitalise on this chance to shift from their core responsibilities and develop a business vision.

The bottom line

Effective COOs will seek to deepen their organisation’s capabilities across a variety of areas, striking the right balance between legacy business and innovative capability areas. Visionary COOs have much to bring to their organisations in the years and decades to come, not only in terms of their awareness of the operations of a company but in how those operations affect and are viewed by potential clients and partners. A forward-thinking COO can create policies and drive decisions that enable their facilities to forge ahead in uncharted space by focusing on strategy and technical innovation.

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