Chief Installed Base Officer – how does an OEM go about organizing for this key role?

Chief Installed Base Officer – how does an OEM go about organizing for this key role?

A few weeks ago, I suggested that industrial OEMs should create a new role, that of a Chief Installed Base Officer (CIBO). Based on the comments and reactions, I clearly hit a nerve, and the reactions were interesting in their affirmation of the need for this role.

This leads to the following obvious questions: 

1.What exactly is included in the responsibilities of this role?

2. What does this leader do that others in the organization don’t do, and how do you measure success? 

3. What does it take for a CEO to make this happen? 

4. More importantly, what are the attributes of the business that are well suited to create the role and the organization that goes with it?

Luckily there are examples for us to learn from, improve upon and implement in a manner that is appropriate for an Industrial OEM. In recent years, new categories of software have emerged to support newly created roles. Also, new roles have been created to take advantage of the opportunities presented by new technologies. 

Gainsight did this for the Customer Success roles in SaaS companies. DevOps software emerged to support new roles driven by the burgeoning Cloud deployments across the globe. Similar examples exist in many other industries.

With the emergence of Installed Base as an important growth and profit driver for OEMs, it is time for the modern OEM to create the role of Chief Installed Base Officer. But before getting the cart before the horse, it is important to define the mission, the success metrics, and the scope of the role. In other words, form follows function.

As it turns out, in a typical OEM, many functions have different missions in play with the Installed Base. Service, Marketing, Sales, Operations….all with different objectives, metrics, and missions. Often, this complex web of workflows and processes is not coordinated or orchestrated, creating an unsatisfactory experience for the customer.

So the mission of the Chief Installed Base Officer is really defined by the following problem statement: To orchestrate, coordinate and harmonize all activities and workflows across the enterprise to provide a consistent, scalable experience to every single customer in an OEM’s Installed Base.

The simpler version: The Chief Installed Base Officer is responsible for an Industrial OEM becoming the customer’s trusted advisor.

For this mission, there are clearly defined outcomes and metrics: 

1) Net Promoter Score, 

2) Customer retention rate, 

3) Customer wallet share, and 

4) Revenue operations productivity (revops broadly covers Sales, Marketing, & Services). 

There could be more, but frankly, starting with fewer makes for an easier implementation.

What are the attributes of a Chief Installed Base Officer?

Based on the mission and outcomes, we believe that the ideal candidate should have a combination of customer empathy, strong operational and process skills, data-driven orientation, and command the respect of the different factions across a company. Finally, someone who has a good ability to understand how technology can transform the customer experience. A tall order to say the least, but definitely not a “unicorn”.

In our experience thus far, we have seen numerous examples of such leaders – except they don’t have the charter, scope, and responsibility that accompanies this role. They are “right to left, customer-back” thinkers in everything they do; they understand what it takes to deliver a superior customer experience and they don’t think twice about mobilizing their other functional colleagues to solve the customers’ problems above all. They make it their business to ask the hard questions. The best part is that these leaders could exist in any customer-facing department or function today & should be easy to identify.

So who is not a good fit for this role? 

Simply put, anyone who is not a change agent. Many of the other “technical attributes” like operational and process skills, data orientation, etc can be filled in around the leader. But if she is not motivated to change their organization, none of this matters. Also – very importantly – they enjoy the confidence of the CEO who is willing to give them a solid 2-3 year horizon to transform the OEM’s approach to the Installed Base.

OEMs are facing unprecedented changes in their customers’ expectations and subsequent interactions with them are rapidly evolving. OEM CEOs have the opportunity to transform their organizations to meet the modern customer’s needs. 

The Chief Installed Base Officer will play a critical role in ensuring success in the new paradigm. Establishing this role is a must-do for CEOs.

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