June 30, 2012
After years of fighting for a voice in the organization, eBusiness leaders are finding themselves in the spotlight. Some all-stars command total compensation packages of more than $1 million and others — like this example from retailer FinishLine — step into new roles like Chief Digital Officer. We believe that in the next few years many eBusiness professionals will graduate to titles like VP of Digital Strategy and VP of Multichannel Strategy, reporting directly into CEOs or to VPs of Distribution/Channels.
What's driving the graduation of eBusiness out of the halls of IT and marketing and into the C-Suite? Two words — mobile and multichannel. This is about so much more than apps and in-store inventory lookup. Mobile is finally enabling many of the multichannel programs that eBusiness professionals have evangelized for years. Some eBusiness teams were already serving as digital centers of excellence for business units and product lines and taking ownership of mobile strategies: In a survey of eBusiness professionals, the majority — more than 70% — reported that they have responsibility for the mobile channel. But suddenly, all eyes are on eBusiness teams to develop the firms' digital strategies for what were traditionally considered offline channels as well.
As my colleague Peter Sheldon wrote about in his report The Digitization Of The In-store Experience, "In tomorrow's Wi-fi connected, digitally enabled store, fixed checkout aisles and cash registers will fade away; instead the entire floor becomes the point of sale." The same is true of bank branches. SNS bank in the Netherlands is already there. The bank ripped out its entire floor plan, reorganizing its branches into iPad- and technology-enabled networks of lean, cashless banking shops that serve as a physical extension of the Web. As I said before, guess who's designing strategies for and developing those mobile POS, self-checkout, and kiosk applications? The eBusiness teams that already have the online and mobile chops and expertise.
What does it mean for eBusiness professionals? Now is the time to push your career forward. You can command higher salaries than in the past. Because VP of eBusiness is still a relatively new position, demand is high for the few eBusiness professionals out there with solid track records. Second, get smart about the core systems that run your firm’s business. Now. Integrating mobile into the store and branch experiences and then designing functionality and solutions will require new expertise and collaboration with new peers. You can simply work for and with those peers. Or, if you seize the opportunity and are able to create integrated multichannel, multi-touchpoint experiences, they can be reporting to you soon.