CNO – Chief Networking Officer, the future leader
At this article, we will debate the paradigm shift that the modern world presents to the
global corporate market. Several challenges and opportunities are found embedded in
various scenarios. Among which, we can highlight the evolution of today’s corporate
entities into a new business model, becoming “virtual agile global networking enterprises”.
The transition between these models will be done through a Business Networks
Management project whose architect is the CNO – Chief Networking Officer, the future
We are walking in large strides towards a society of knowledge, communication and
entertainment. Knowledge is power at the time of decision-making. Proper communication
is what connects people for business and personal purposes. Entertainment is a common
element of interest for all people regardless of race, color, credo or political ideology.
Diverse technologies available in the market strengthen these three pillars. Public access to
the Internet has been a reality for many years. Companies has been created and sustained
based on it. Broadband penetration have been growing exponentially. Cell-phones have
already surpassed the 100-million users barrier in Brazil. The global society is more and
more mobile, agile and dynamic.
Imagine a scenario not many years away when all the required resources for the
implementation of this project are already widely available in the market. I refer to a
paradigm change in the corporate world. Countries and, therefore, their respective
companies must be prepared to compete worldwide. The difference is that technologies are
cheaper and cheaper making the commercial world very competitive, or “flat”. A company
can become globally known very quickly regardless of its turnover and, it's history. The
Internet created new options that speed up the brand value development.
We can now frequently watch the launch of companies that are virtual, agile, global and
organized as a business network – virtual agile global networked enterprises. These
companies have low operational cost, global price competitiveness, prompt availability of
specific resources in order to attend a customized demand for every new project; high
profitability and quick implementation of each new challenge. Today’s corporations must
respond and adapt to this new challenge to their competitiveness. As a matter of fact, the
solution is extremely simple. It requires a small rearrangement of the businesses assets and
a subtle, but yet, paramount paradigm shift concerning of “how to do” business in the
2 Author: Octavio Pitaluga Neto
Business Networks Management is the process in which the CNO – Chief Networking
Officer creates the operating team that will develop a project involving all devisions of the
organization aiming a better efficiency of the available resources. At times, sleeping
resources that exist in the business networks surrounding the company are activated in
order to generate mutual gains to all concerned parties. All the required resources to
implement projects should be available in the businesses networks. If these resources are
not readily available, that is a leadership failure, because the resources have not been
sufficiently well identified, mapped out and made available.
The project of business networks management can be summarized in six steps namely: (1)
definition of the CNO and his/her respective business networks management team, (2)
alignment of goals, success and risk factors, (3) mutual gains agreement, (4) assessment of
current status of every partnership, (5) management of the business networks and (6)
implementing a continuous action plan. Let us take a look at each one of these stages.
1. Defining the CNO and business networks management team
Everything starts with the definition of the project leader, who in his/her turn will choose
the core team of collaborators. In fact, everybody in the organization will participate in a
major or minor degree to a successful implementation of the business networks
management project. It is recommended that the existing key professionals of each
department form the business networks management team, e.g., Commercial Director will
manage the Clients Network, Purchasing Director will be the Supplier Network Manager
and so on. The subtle but fundamental difference will be that all network managers will act
as a coach and facilitators of their internal subordinates and external partners.
The first change in the paradigm is the understanding that the real company structure is no
longer pyramidal but matrix like, so now the company’s decision center has created a
community around itself. This community is assembled by identifying each business
network that surrounds the company and, therefore, influences company’s strategy. Among
the main business networks we highlight employees, advisory board, clients, suppliers,
media, government, associations, competitors, academy, investors, strategic alliances and
Along with his/her team, the Chief Networking Officer will centrally manage the business
networks environment. He/she will solve eventual conflict matters and will negotiate a
solution meeting the mutual best interests of the parties. The CNO is a direct contact,
although not necessarily the primary one. The CNO will always be ready to assume the
management of any partnership with any stakeholder during the primary network managers
absence. The CNO maps out and organizes all resources available inside the network, i.e.,
contacts, experiences, success stories, knowledge, competences and business opportunities.
Finally, he/she sets up long-term partnerships with fair and well-defined mutually
beneficial gains with each stakeholder inside all business networks.
3 Author: Octavio Pitaluga Neto
The CNO is a serving leader. He/she worries about the self-development of each member
of the internal network qualifying them to reach the agreed goals. The leadership is not
imposed but earned. The CNO can only have direct impact on the employees network. All
others are outside his/her direct control but not outside his/her area of influence. For this
reason, I consider the CNO, the future leader. He/she achieves the recognition of all peers
from various and different networks that surrounds his/her community-enterprise creating a
strong interdependence among all parties and solid synergy with the whole. The CNO is the
business networks portfolio strategist and architect, acting as a coach and trainer during the
soft implementation of related project during the transition from existing and traditional
model towards virtual agile global networking enterprise one at both internal and external
levels. In order to achieve full success in the implementation of this concept, the CNO must
have wide ability to communicate across all departments.
The CNO´s job description could be summarized as a higher value and principled strategic
thinker. One who owns an unshakeable credibility in the market. A professional, moved-
by-challenges, who is extremely skillful in order to manage partnerships. It is also essential
that this person has a clear and objective communication capacity in order to guide the
development of people. This executive must be very creative and participative, aiming to
harmonize the different interests, expectations and needs among networks. In order to do
so, negotiation experience and deep knowledge about own company are relevant key
differentiation points, besides having wide knowledge of the marketpladce and being
absolutely focused on organization’s core business. Finally, good understanding of
coaching methodology is very useful in order to manage people, in general.
Having employees´ network is the starting point. The CNO´s major objectives while
defining the business networks management team and begin the project implementation is
to improve the quality of partnerships increasing trust and commitment among all parties
involved. In parallel, we will watch the strengthening of company’s branding and, as a
natural result, an increase in volume, frequency and value of business, and of company-
community itself. The benefits will return in favor of all stakeholders. This virtuous cycle
will allow a quick increase in company’s valuation.
2. Goals, success and risk factors
In the next stage of the business networks management project, the organization will define
its internal goals and sub goals, defining an agreed project time-frame. Establish the
success expectations and risk factors for each department and specific sub-project. This
step is fundamental for the perfect and smooth negotiation of mutual gains with each
stakeholder. The more detailed and the deeper this work is, the more efficient and the faster
the negotiation with business partners and respective implementation of the agreed action
plan will be as well. The CNO and the team possess an arsenal of powerful questions,
which will be addressed to other collaborators in order to generate a rich material based on
overall knowledge and experience.
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3. Mutual Gains Agreement
Following next, the win-win negotiation will take place. It essentially contemplates those
three controls mentioned before: goals, success factors and risk factors. Nevertheless, it is
paramount to pay special attention to needs, expectations and wills of each network
separately. e.g., Clients, want respect, quality of product and service, fair price, payment
convenience in addition to prompt delivery just to mention a few points. However, media
partners look for interesting content that captures audience, continuous update with new
facts, big numbers and achievements around the corporate world and, if possible, some
exclusive piece of first hand information. And so on for each network. Once all networks
are mapped out, it is time to consider all listed members, their negotiation style and history
of previous encounters.
4. Assessment of every partnership
The fourth stage starts with the evaluation of the existing status of every partnership. It is
recommended to create a simple scoring system including values and subjective criteria in
order to measure each status. Take themselves time to deeply consider all existing
stakeholders and the members of your ideal network. If there is any ideal professional with
whom there is no contact yet, that is the moment to identify this person. Several questions
must be answered such as relationship between negotiators, history of these negotiations
over time, and success stories achieved so far and evaluate the potential for expansion of
that specific partnership.
5. Manage business networks per se
The business networks management project offers a vital component to achieve success in
the overall project: win-win negotiation. It will never ever be able to keep harmony inside
the network if negotiators sit around the table with that WIN-lose spirit. In other words, we
must win and they must lose. This is the first temptation that ought to be definitively
erased. Perhaps, this is the biggest challenge to big corporations when they are dealing with
rather smaller suppliers. It is worth remembering that gains are not always a financial
matter. There are several creative ways to capitalize the outcome of these negotiations. The
better the relation and confidence between parties is, the more often, at bigger volume and
with better results these negotiations will be.
6. Continuous action plan
The final step is the effective implementation of an action plan of short, medium and long
term for each network and their respective stakeholders. Normally, it is recommended to
start this project negotiating with the network over which the company has the biggest
influence power, employees. Besides, its prompt accessibility, there are several and
valuable contacts with various professionals who compose other networks and who are
completely dormant just because nobody has asked for anything. Once again, the Chief
5 Author: Octavio Pitaluga Neto
Networking Officer can be essential. Given his/her status and value inside the organization,
this professional possesses the required power in order to request this sort of cooperation.
All collaborators should be well trained and need to understand the benefits for their careers
when they contribute to the successful implementation of this model.
The action plan that will be defined for each network brings some points in common like
to define the goal for each specific action. The style and format, the frequency with which
the action must take place, the target group involved and the location (either physical or
virtual). As a result, there will be a calendar of activities throughout the whole year.
However, from time to time, the organisation must reassess and adjust the planned path
towards goals, and sub goals.
[timeframe, actions and further related activities in a constant mechanism of human and
professional self-development besides continuous improvements in the internal process. ]
Obviously celebrations and awards must not only happen but also be widely communicated
and publicly promoted in accordance with calendar in force.
Once again, the unique leadership style of CNO and the business network management
team is paramount in the sense of translating all embedded knowledge in each collaborator
into clear and precise actions generating a positive result for all levels of the enterprise.
Thus, the company will established the three pillars which drive the future market:
knowledge, communication and entertainment.
The benefits of the implementation of business networks management project to
organizations are various. As examples, I have selected some high aggregated values both
tangible and intangible. Thinking of your own internal team, this concept creates a good
working environment for professional development, which will make it easier to attract and
retain good talent. Concerning many stakeholders in diverse networks, there will be an
increase in the transparency and trust in the partnership with several networks and all
stakeholders involved. The development of human beings and a win-win culture that can
consolidate these partnerships, is essential in the long run. After several rounds of
negotiations and mutual learning. The CNO verifies the alignment of goals, success factors
and risks between partners. As stated previously, there will be an overall cost reduction and
business cycle shortening resulting in higher margins in each partnership. Improved internal
communication that involves diverse networks will improve knowledge flows meaningfully
bringing more efficiency, cost reduction and quick deployments. Finally, it is possible to
reach across networks, mapping out theresources needed to expand new lines of business at
national and global level.
6 Author: Octavio Pitaluga Neto
In order to finalize, let us take a look in to a recent success case from a company that was
totally web-based and that exemplifies well the importance of business networks
management in modern times. By the time, E-Bay decided to acquire Skype, its freeware
had been downloaded by 140 million times. It was verified that 20 million people were
loyal users of the product and branding. People turn on Skype every day. E-Bay recognized
the strong sense of community around Skype´s brand and company. The evaluated only
those 20 million loyal members to the Skype “community-company” in U$ 150/each,
ending up in the purchasing price of U$ 3 billions. It is important to note that only the
clients network was evaluated. None of those additional partnerships were taken into
consideration in Skype´s valuation. This case leads us to some quick considerations:
• If your company is a community, what is the value of this community?
• How this community is organized and mapped out?
• How and when do you measure the (de) valuation of this community over time?
• Do you use this measurement in your company’s valuation?
• What is your company doing about it?
In this sense, tools such as open and/or closed online business communities available in the
market are very valuable and practical. These platforms can be used openly or even be
developed in a very specific and customized way by the company’s internal information
When does this future start? More than a matter of time, it is a matter of attitude and choice.
Mine has started two years ago when I assumed the position of Chief Networking Officer
and started implementing my own business networks management project in my
Dear reader, do you believe that to implement a business networks management project and
appoint a Chief Networking Officer can bring big benefits to your organization? Will this
occur in the medium or in the long term? Are the existing leaders of your company mature
enough and ready to take on the task of shaping the future of your enterprise through a
more efficient business networks management? I leave there my challenge / invitation in
your hands. It's up to you to design a similar project for your professional career and
7 Author: Octavio Pitaluga Neto
Octavio Pitaluga Neto
CNO - Chief Networking Officer of TEN – Top Executives Net
(http://www.topexecutivesnet.com) and of Net-bridges (http://www.net-bridges.com.br)
Business networks manager, certified international business coach, public speaker and
trainer. In the corporate world, I have worked for Tele2 Europe as Marketing and Sales
Director of its electronic transactions processing subsidiary, 3C Communications,
responsible for operations in up to 17 countries and four business units in Western Europe.
I also worked for Seara Alimentos (Cargill Group now) and Kanematsu do Brasil Ltda. I
possess an MBA degree from RSM Erasmus University, The Netherlands and post-
graduation studies in International Business for UFRJ/ECEX. My academic background
and professional experience relates to sciences, international business and marketing of
technology with relevant international business exposure in more than 25 countries. I have
been developing a strong presence in the major online networking platforms reaching a
sizeable network in Brazil and abroad. Languages skills: Portuguese, English, Spanish and
Japanese (intermediate). Hobbies: friends, family, traveling, horses, multi-cultural
issues, movies, dancing and out-door activities in general.
This is a translation of the original article published at Mundo PM magazine in Jun/Jul,
2007. Thanks to John Veitch for his best support. All intellectual property rights are
reserved.Octavio Pitaluga Neto