Oracle Exec Wins Award As Chief Customer Officer Of The Year - InformationWeek

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Commentary
7/15/2009
12:28 AM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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Oracle Exec Wins Award As Chief Customer Officer Of The Year

A small organization whose members are Chief Customer Officers has named Oracle CCO Jeb Dasteel as its Chief Customer Officer of the year. While that's clearly a nice bit of recognition, we need to bear in mind that the voters were a few dozen other CCOs. Wouldn't it be interesting to see what Oracle's actual customers feel about the job Dasteel has done?

A small organization whose members are Chief Customer Officers has named Oracle CCO Jeb Dasteel as its Chief Customer Officer of the year. While that's clearly a nice bit of recognition, we need to bear in mind that the voters were a few dozen other CCOs. Wouldn't it be interesting to see what Oracle's actual customers feel about the job Dasteel has done?I've always been leery of professional awards granted by peers - they're nice, but about as satisfying as the parsley-sprig garnish on a blue-plate special. I don't say that to knock the CCO Council or Dasteel's award, because they seem to be a well-meaning group looking to raise the impact and contributions of a little-known C-level position that by the council's own admission is represented in less than 25 of the Fortune 1000. Rather, I bring it up because the votes that really count are, of course, those cast by customers themselves.

Here's some of what Dasteel had to say about his award:

"The key to business success, particularly in a down economy, is anticipating customer needs and continuously deepening customer relationships…. Through a string of 55 acquisitions, Oracle has achieved nearly 100% customer retention…. The award is a great honor and a testament to Oracle's executive leadership that has provided such visible support for the customer focus we've tried to achieve."

And here's what Oracle co-president Charles Phillips had to say about it:

"Several years ago it became clear to us that the Chief Customer Officer role was a missing piece of Oracle's strategy. Our CCO has become a key part of the Oracle transformation. The pay-off has been tremendous as we become more of a trusted partner to our customers."

For CIOs who've had their battles with Oracle, I'm sure that news of this award will cause a some of them to wonder what type of hallucinogens the voters had been consuming before voting. And note in the comment from Charles Phillips above about "the Oracle transformation" that Oracle's top executives themselves recognize that the company's history was not always one that reflected a devotion to being "a trusted partner to our customers."

So I bring this up for a couple of reasons: first, how many of your strategic IT partners have chief customer officers? And does Oracle deserve some credit for creating the position, however imperfect its overall execution might still be? And second, because the three primary responsibilities of the CCO, as defined by the CCO Council, are worth some thought from CIOs as well:

1) Creating customer strategy based on in-depth customer insight; 2) Driving profitable customer behavior; and 3) Creating a customer-centric culture.

I have no idea if the role of Chief Customer Officer will catch on in a big way across companies in general or IT companies in particular, but I do believe that those three attributes will endure and gain even greater strategic significance across all companies in very short order. And CIOs need to be sure that they're in the thick of the effort in embracing and leveraging those types of actions, whether the CCO role ever makes it or not.

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