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Metaverse is important. But is it important enough for the boardroom?

Metaverse is important. But is it important enough for the boardroom?

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The concept of the metaverse has become mainstream nowadays and more brands are exploring this space as consumer engagement is expected to pivot in Web3.0. Interestingly, over 99% of C-suite executives believe that they will hire new roles in the next 10 years, such as chief metaverse officer, chief automation officer, head of gamification, and immersion counsellor, according to a Qlik study titled "Data Literacy: The Upskilling Evolution".

The majority of respondents (85%) believe that it will be important to have a chief metaverse officer in charge of employee and customer experiences that straddle digital and virtual realms. At the same time, 86% believe that having a metaverse experience designer, responsible for employee and customer experiences that straddle virtual and physical realms, and who ensures data transfer is seamless, will be important. Also, 86% believe a workplace environmental architect, responsible for ensuring all workspaces – physical or in the metaverse – are designed to maximise employee productivity and well-being, will be important.

Meanwhile, the chief customer experience officer was also listed as one of the new leadership roles that will be commonplace in boardrooms by 2030. According to the study, 89% of CXOs believe they will hire this specific position while 53% of employees aspire to work in this role.

The study was based on a survey of 1,209 C-level executives and 6,197 global full-time employees in organisations of more than 50 employees in the UK, USA, Germany, France, Japan, Australia and New Zealand in October and November 2021.

While these roles are predicted to rise in popularity over the next few years, marketers in Southeast Asia aren't jumping on them just yet. Geneco's head of marketing Alex Chan told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that marketing leaders will first need to evaluate whether the metaverse is a new platform that will resonate with their audiences and how it can help them meet their business objectives before creating any new roles.

"All new digital platforms, like ‘metaverse’, will start off with more questions than answers and at the nascent stage, most businesses will be observing the benefits and challenges it brings. And when it starts to bring clear benefits and our marketing focus has decidedly shifted from one platform to the other, there is a potential for current roles to be further expanded to include this as part of their additional scope," he explained.

At the same time, the team may also evolve to onboard new roles specific to these platforms to remain relevant in this ever-changing marketing landscape. This can be observed when Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced last October that 10,000 new jobs will be created for metaverse with most of the jobs for content creators.

Similarly, Andrew Yeoh, head of marketing, TIME dotCom told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that rather than jump onto any hot trending bandwagon, it is important to understand where each skillset sits and how they contribute to the entire top and bottom line of a company. "In the short term, a chief experience officer might be something that gains more traction as CX is key to building a brand in today's digital world," he said.

Unlike the chief experience officer role which has become rather common in the industry, a check by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE on LinkedIn found that there are currently only a handful of chief metaverse officers. In a previous conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Zoe Cocker, head of brand and Yahoo Creative Studios, ANZ said there would not be a trend of CMOs suddenly becoming chief metaverse officers overnight. Such roles would appear in big tech firms such as PlayStation, Meta, or Microsoft. However, for the majority of brands, the metaverse role will be integrated through divisions within marketing teams. This is much like how social or programmatic has evolved, she added.

At the same time, Aiken Digital's account strategist, Iris Gu, said brands will require dedicated talents who have a deep understanding of the latest development both from the technical side and user behaviour.

(Read also: #ExplainIt: Is there a need for a chief metaverse officer? [Video])

Aside from the chief experience officer role, here are five other roles that are expected to have a seat at the table in a few years' time.

1. Chief automation officer: Oversee the implementation and management of automated working practices and machines in the organisation.
2. Chief trust officer: Responsible for enhancing customer and employee trust in the business.
3. Head of gamification: Monitor the ways in which people interact with internal and external digital processes, and identify opportunities to increase engagement.
4. Head of collaboration: In charge of eliminating departmental silos. They will also be responsible for ensuring that data and insights are shared across the organisation, and even outside it, to boost competitive advantage and opportunities for innovation.
5. Head of betterment: Work to ensure continual improvement across the enterprise. This will include identifying areas for employee development and learning, opportunities for ongoing improvement of processes and operations, and generally helping their organisation do better. The role includes ESG with the KPI to put purpose at the core of the business, from data use to supply chain, diversity and employee wellness.

Geneco's Chan said whether it is a marketing or customer experience leader, the company should first understand what each leadership roles' key purposes and capabilities are before embarking on a journey to decide on what the formation of a new C-level role and the department that the role comes with.

Drawing from his personal experience, Chan said he was in scenarios whereby there were overlaps of responsibilities among a few chief X officers. According to him, the issue seems to stem from a reactive need to be relevant with the times by creating more C-level roles. "However, the lack of understanding on what the business needed versus the responsibilities of these roles caused many distractions in the business-making decisions and disruptions among the working teams," he said.

Nonetheless, Chan does not see any critical shift needed by companies in a few years' time.

But for any business leader, they should expand their horizon whenever there are such new technologies and start evaluating or even experimenting with them.

At the same time, TIME dotCom's Yeoh believes that rather than focusing on titles and platforms, companies should focus on where customers are, what they need or want, and how companies meet them. "If that warrants a fancy new title or role to signal emphasis and investment, then so be it. I’m probably naïve, but I’m looking forward to a less complicated future where a CDeFiO, CNFTO and a Chief Web3 Officer isn’t mandatory for business growth and success," he added.

That said, putting platforms or ecosystems such as the metaverse, gamification, automation on a pedestal might be too niche to have a seat at the C-level table.

Meanwhile, Carsome Group's CMO Ravi Shankar explained that the only roles that will change are the tech roles and product and tech teams will eventually become more involved in marketing. "Marketers have always evolved, from print to radio, radio to TV, and TV to the Internet. Eventually, we will evolve to NFTs and the metaverse. More than ever the marketing team needs to have a say on product roadmaps," he added.

Although roles such as the chief automation officer, chief trust officer, head of gamification, and head of betterment are all important, Shankar said for him, automation, trust, gamification, and betterment come under the umbrella of customer experience. 

Cutting across functions

Many of the roles listed by Qlik are for areas that businesses are "waking up" to, hence Stephanie Caunter, AIA Malaysia's head of customer strategy and marketing, understands why they are on the list.

"But I recall how when digital transformation was a hot topic a few years back, and the common reaction from businesses was to hire digital departments – until they realised that digital transformation cannot be driven by one department or function alone, but must be the entire company’s goal. Similarly, things such as automation, gamification, collaboration would cut across functions," she explained.

Citing AIA as an example, Caunter said the company has adopted an agile way of working. While most people associate agile with tech and software companies, AIA is finding ways to make it work in the financial services industry. Caunter leads an agile tribe composed of x-function teams that work on two-week sprints to achieve specific, measurable goals. "This helps us to cut down on silos, brings together and empowers the best talent on the company’s top priorities, and makes work transparent & outcome-based," she added.

Among all the new roles, one which caught the eye of  was the chief trust officer. "I’d personally love to see a chief trust officer as I’m very passionate about bringing consumer and investor trust to the forefront of any business agenda," she said.

Photo court: 123RF

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