I’ve touched upon the modern business dichotomy of “cost” vs “value” in several posts, including these:
- how to explain “Agile” to a CFO
- profit as a consequence of providing customer value
- focus on profits or on great products ?
- pursuit of profit kills innovation
The fundamental reasoning in the above posts has been that today’s businesses are increasingly run exclusively from a cost perspective, with less and less focus on true customer value.
For instance, any major corporation has a number of Cxx-roles, such as CEO, CFO, COO, CTO, CIO etc. The question is: does any of these roles have “true customer value” as its primary responsibility….? Or to put it even more bluntly: does any of these roles even include “customer value” as a responsibility…?
Looking at the various CxO roles above, based on my experience, I can’t see that any of these roles spending very much of their time focusing on the true customer value proposition of the company: instead, most if not all of these roles are either focused on the needs of the share holders and financial market (CEO, CFO), or on internal operations (COO, CIO), or on monitoring cost (CFO).
But surely the CTO, if no one else, has to focus on customer value, you say…? I’m not so sure about that either: while a CTO definitely has a lot of say in the future technical and product strategy matters of the company, my experience is that many CTO’s have an “inside-out” view and are fairly detached from the company’s day-to-day business and interaction with the customers, i.e. they are not heavily involved in the one ” corporate process” that really is – or perhaps more accurately, should be – the backbone of “providing customer value”.
But perhaps it’s the sales force then, lead by the VP of sales, who’s got the responsibility of defining, articulating and delivering customer value…? I mean, there’s a lot of books with titles like “value selling” on the business shelves of any bookstore, so perhaps the responsibility for delivering value resides with the sales organization…? Unfortunately, I don’t see that holding either: as soon as the sh*t really hits the fan, i.e. when the quarter end is near,and the numbers red, all previous speeches about “selling and delivering value” tend to transform to “get out there and close some deals!”
So, perhaps it’s time for modern, agile corporations to introduce a new Cxx-level role with responsibility to define and defend the company’s customer value proposition…? Perhaps the time has come for a corporate CVO, whose perspective must be “outside-in”, looking at the company’s products and services from a customer perspective, and using that perspective to identify and increase the true value of the company’s offerings…?