With the growing importance in a digitally connected world, the role of Chief Product Officer (CPO) is being elevated. There are companies, like Capgemini, whose intelligent product and services offering helps product leaders to accelerate their product innovation journey. What are the best practices for current and future CPOs to further define their roles? Capgemini Invent Executive VP Lisa Mitnick shares ways CPOs can be successful and how Capgemini is a leader for product leaders.

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On Company Culture Shaped By Product Leaders

Culture drives innovation, and the CPO is the product leader for sustaining that type of workplace culture. Lisa shares her insights about creating a safe environment to fail and succeed with innovation. 

“Culture is one of the most important success factors for driving continuous product innovation. It really does start from the top of the organization in terms of just setting strategic ambitions and goals. I think it manifests itself in how the company invests in R&D and new product development, as well as how it defines and measures success and how it sets up incentive and reward systems. 

“Companies have to innovate in my mind to survive today. The CPO has such an enormous role to play in creating and sustaining a workplace culture that really fosters innovation and encourages risk-taking. The CPO needs to encourage employees to experiment with new products and services without this fear of failure. Providing that safe environment to fail helps them find new innovative ideas that can lead to those future successes for the company. It’s a super important thing to focus on.”

On Product Leaders Building Great Teams

There is a high demand to hire and retain strong product talent. With the COVID pandemic, the Great Resignation, and much demand for new connected products, the need for great product leaders has never been stronger. Lisa gives us insights into what CPOs can expect as they build great product teams.

“This is the big question of the day — hiring and developing strong product talent. It’s always been hard but it has truly been exacerbated by COVID and what you called the Great resignation. We are also seeing unprecedented demand for new connected products and services, and it does require just new types of digital talent, the ability to orchestrate across multiple domains and disciplines.

“On the hiring and retention front, it’s important to create a great place to work brand, so where people really feel they can grow their careers, make an impact, and also have a work-life balance. I know COVID has made that come to light even more. At the heart, when I look at Capgemini, we’re a people business, and we take great care to support a continuous learning environment, which I think is super, super important. We promote inclusion and diversity, and we champion causes around things like sustainability, giving back to the community. 

“Of course career advancement is important, but it’s not enough these days. When you have happy people that feel a meaningful connection to their work and they feel part of something bigger, they become your best advocates for recommending, in our case, Capgemini is a great place to work. Thus, in addition to the formal recruiting functions, we’re leveraging the power of this network and the network effect. We invest a lot in upskilling and reskilling our people. That’s a way to grow talent internally. You can’t always find talent on the outside. So having strong training and development and a commitment to investment in people is key to building teams and retaining people, helping them to grow their career and find a meaningful place to work.”


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On CPOs as Business Drivers

Next to the CEO, the CPO is the product leader with the broadest viewpoint of the business. A key attribute of their role is driving business. Lisa shares how CPOs do just that and why it is important.

“They have a really important role to play. They have that purview … in terms of having that helicopter view and seeing how all the different pieces come together. 

“What I find so interesting is a lot of the time we’ll talk about customer experience or digital experience, but if you think about it, the product, it’s sort of extending from the time I’m first made aware of that product all the way through that lifecycle. And so the product owner needs to be thinking about what’s that first engagement and touchpoint? That could be through multiple channels, it could be through our traditional bricks and mortar, it can be through e-commerce, it could be through many, many different ways. If you think about that, how do you continue to build that empathy and engagement with that customer throughout? 

“Chief Product Officer is such a unique position, because not only are you going to have to sort of drive the interest in demand, you’re going to have to then get them excited about the product, drive usage, adoption, manage that overall lifecycle, and then think about customer care. What does that look like? How’s that going to evolve? What’s the business model for it? You own every touchpoint.”

As Capgemini helps product leaders become successful, they are tapped into the latest innovation trends and insights into product leader success. Lisa gives us a taste of what she is seeing emerge with products and services, as well as the role CPOs play in these latest product developments. 

“I have a couple that I have that we’re spending a lot of time thinking about, obviously virtual experiences and the whole Metaverse AR/VR. The theme of just like being there, even if you’re remote, is probably the No. 1 theme that emerged. Because of COVID and because we’ve all been locked up for so long in our houses, the need to have that connection, that experience like you are really there, is important. It’s also been so transformative. Even for clients in manufacturing, the ability to do your work virtually, the remote maintenance, and other elements of a digital factory are so important. We’re gonna see just more and more applications of this AR/VR and virtual experiences in probably every walk of life. …

“Other things that come to mind are things like increased personalization but with a nod to privacy and security. We want, on the one hand, to have that personalized experience, but we don’t want to be creeped out or feel concerned that Big Brother is watching us. Getting that balance right is going to be super important. … I think people will push back on that. …

“Then the last one I think that’s super important, one that we’re really committed to is around sustainable product development. Today, if you’re not thinking about net zero and reducing carbon footprint, you’re going to be in trouble. Particularly our young people, they want to have a planet that they’re going to live in that’s green and beautiful, that has safe drinking water and clean air. We don’t want the entire polar ice caps to melt, right? It’s really important that we’re proactive right now. 

“CPOs have a really big role to play in driving sustainable product development,  in really engaging with their customers in a way because they care so much about it. Going green can help your brand. It’s not just doing the right thing, it also can reinforce the values that are important to your customer. So it’s a win-win from my vantage point.”

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About the speaker
Lisa Mitnick Capgemini Invent, EVP Intelligent Products & Services Member
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