“Technology Should Act as the Enabler of New Business Possibilities, Including Driving Productivity Gains, Accelerating Innovation, Augmenting Market Intelligence and Delivering Greater Insight.”
Hi Bernardo, please tell us about your role and the team you handle at Deloitte. How did you arrive at Deloitte?
I joined Deloitte in 2014 in our Consumer Products practice, primarily focused on Strategy and M&A. For the past 25 years, I have helped Consumer-oriented companies grow with confidence, both organically and through M&A transactions.
I have advised C-Suite executives, in the U.S. and internationally, across a wide range of industry sectors, including: Food & Beverage, Personal Care, Household Products, Tobacco, Consumer Electronics, Apparel, among many others. Prior to starting my career in Management Consulting, I have worked in a variety of Brand Marketing and Sales Operations roles at The Coca-Cola Company in my home country of Brazil.
Could you tell us how the role of CSOs have evolved in the last 2 years? Has the COVID-19 pandemic influenced the way CSOs operate today?
Strategy is a relatively young management discipline that has only started to be adopted more formally in corporate organizational structures in the 1990s. In fact, Deloitte’s 2021 CSO survey uncovered that 37% of respondents noted that their strategy functions were formed in just the past five years. The CSO position is in constant flux, and the pandemic made this even more true.
The survey showed that priorities for CSOs are shifting, and some of those shifts can become more permanent. For example, the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic have forced CSOs to re-prioritize their time—some of the long horizon responsibilities took a backseat to helping their organizations sort through near-term disruptions, such as containing cost, securing supply, and protecting the workforce.
In addition, the pandemic seems to have acted as a catalyst to reposition the role of the CSO to tackle new responsibilities, such as becoming the architect and orchestrator for the strategic use of advanced technology, and playing a leadership role in intimately connecting corporate purpose and corporate strategy.
Your recent report, jointly published with Kellogg points to advanced technologies reshaping the future of businesses. Could you please elaborate on the top technologies that CSOs should keenly follow?
In the CSO survey, we found that nearly 90% of all CSOs surveyed agree that advanced technologies play a fundamental role as a strategic enabler. In addition, more than 60% of strategy executives agree that advanced technologies will fundamentally reshape their role in future years.
At the same time, however, strategy executives largely believe that their companies are not fully equipped to harness the full potential that those advanced technologies offer. I would highly encourage CSOs to become more fluent in their understanding of enabling technologies such as AI, machine learning, VR/AR/MR, intelligent automation/RPA, blockchain and more. However, rather making it a technology-first discussion, strategy executives should frame the conversation around what fundamental business challenge can be addressed or what new market opportunity can be unlocked with new technology solutions. Technology should act as the enabler of new business possibilities, including driving productivity gains, accelerating innovation, unlocking disruptive growth, opening new routes to market and business models, augmenting market intelligence and delivering greater insight.
CSOs will need to work closely with tech leaders—particularly the CIO and/or the CTO—to successfully leverage the right technologies (and vendors) and ensure they address concrete business objectives.
How are corporate strategies being evaluated around the pandemic with an aim to improve the social responsibility score?
The 2021 CSO Survey has shed some new light on how the strategy function can help companies advance their corporate purpose aspirations.
Purpose is not just about a “score”; rather it is about understanding the broader role that an organization plays in society, and how it can do good while doing well. As such, Strategy executives recognize the importance of purpose as an integral element of a company’s strategy, and 48% of survey respondents reported that the strategy function has been more highly involved in making sure that purpose and strategy are more intimately linked together.
Tell us more about the way CSOs could leverage remote collaboration tools and learning models to influence strategic decisions in the growing markets.
The pandemic has certainly had a profound impact in our ways of working in a corporate setting, and with strategy executives is no different. They all had to adapt to remote work and virtual meetings like many of us. But they all were impacted in different ways, particularly regarding the need to manage near-term disruption and volatility while positioning the business to succeed in the long-run.
For example, our survey showed that 60% of respondents made their planning cycles (traditionally done annually) more dynamic, 50% of respondents embraced scenario planning tools and techniques, 48% of respondents increased the frequency of business performance reviews, and 38% of respondents leveraged new data sources to try to track, sense and predict market shifts.
What, according to you, is the biggest challenge for a modern CSO?
I see two main challenges, which are actually interconnected: first, redefining the CSO role as it relates to new strategic mandates, including corporate purpose and advanced technologies, as we have discussed before. But that also creates a second challenge, which is the issue of stretching the CSO in many different directions. The modern CSO will have to figure out how to juggle multiple (and sometimes conflicting) priorities, and how to flex his or her time appropriately depending on what the businesses priorities require.
Hear it from the pro: What are the biggest trends in data governance every CSO should watch out for in 2021-2022?
Interestingly enough, 57% of respondents to our CSO survey reported that Insights & Analytics is part of the scope for the strategy function in their organizations. So the connection between strategy, analytics and data is becoming a lot stronger as once it may have been.
My opinion is that one of the next frontiers on data and analytics for CSOs will be how to integrate and leverage external, nonorthodox data sources to enhance not only their ability to target market opportunities with a greater level of precision but also to sense and anticipate future market shifts.
Tell us more about the hiring challenges when it comes to technology companies? What advice do you have for the industry leaders?
Our survey shows how ubiquitous the adoption of advanced technologies has become across industries. As I mentioned before, the vast majority (90%) of respondents agreed that advanced technologies have become important strategic enablers.
Yet, only 34% of strategy executives reported that their company is mature or very mature in leveraging advanced technologies and capabilities, such as artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, machine learning and intelligent automation.
In order to close that gap, between where they want to be and where they are today, companies are aggressively recruiting to build their capabilities in key technology areas. That creates high demand for somewhat scarce skills, and drives a very competitive marketplace for talent, which, in the past, would have largely been absorbed by the Tech Sector.
Winning the “talent war” will require companies to rethink their talent strategy in more fundamental ways.
Thank you, Bernardo! That was fun and we hope to see you back on itechnologyseries.com soon.
Bernardo is a Chicago-based managing director and a member of the Strategic Growth Transformation leadership team at Monitor Deloitte. He has more than 25 years of professional experience and he specializes in helping global consumer-oriented businesses grow with confidence, both organically and through M&A. Bernardo combines rigorous strategic thinking with creativity and pragmatism. He has served clients across a wide range of industry sectors, both in the United States and internationally, including: beer, wine and spirits, non-alcoholic beverages (carbonated and non-carbonated), chocolate confectionery, household products, personal care, animal protein, bakery products, frozen foods, tobacco, fashion apparel, eyewear, sporting goods, personal computers, and wholesale distribution among others. Bernardo has worked extensively on client engagements in North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia.
Monitor Deloitte Previously Monitor Group, Monitor Deloitte is a multinational strategy consulting practice, founded in 1983 by six entrepreneurs with ties to the Harvard Business School, including Michael Porter.
Monitor Deloitte specializes in addressing a variety of management areas, including Corporate & Business Unit Strategy, Customer & Marketing Strategy, Digital Strategy, Innovation and Pricing Strategy & Profitability Management.
The advisory services are in line with Monitor Group’s legacy expertise but expanded to a broader set of implementation and capabilities design focused on greater resilience to economic uncertainty.