Never Mind Being A CFO, CIO or for that matter CPO, 2015 is the Year of the RMO by Jon Hansen

Posted on January 20, 2015


I just read an article by Andy Akrouche in which he made reference to my interview with Pete Wharton, IBM’s Commerce Solutions Product Marketing Leader.  You can read about my interview in its entirety in my December 13th post titled IBM’s plans to corner or corral the cloud – it’s all a matter of governance.

During the discussion Wharton indicated that Big Blue was planning to “create an ecosystem of technology partners to extend IBM’s service capabilities to its customers.”  As a result, they were focused on acquiring relationships as opposed to companies.

It of course led me to ask the obvious question; how do you plan to manage or govern these relationships?

Was IBM considering one, or a combination of the three possible types of governance models identified by Humphrey and Schmitz which are; a) network implying cooperation between firms of more or less equal power which share their competencies within the chain; b) quasi-hierarchy involving relationships between legally independent firms in which one is subordinate to the other, with a leader in the chain defining the rules to which the rest of the actors have to comply and c) hierarchy when a firm is owned by an external firm.”

While Wharton deferred, suggesting that it would be best if I talked with someone higher up in the organization about the actual governance structure, one thing is certain . . . 2015 is the year of the relationship.  More specifically, 2015 marks the transformation from the win-win lip service in which we all express relational sentiments while adhering to a Karrass get what what you negotiate mindset, to one of true collaborative intent and practice.

I am not suggesting that this transformation is going to happen overnight.  Because old habits are indeed hard to break, movement in this new era direction is more likely to be glacial in progression as opposed to a major burst.  That being said, 2 to 3 years from now, we will look back at 2015 as a major turning point in how organizations in the public and private sectors approach relationships with both internal as well as external partners or stakeholders.

This is where the Akrouche article comes into play.


In talking about the need to better manage the individual relationships that contribute to the “collective outcome or outcomes through the creation of Relationship Charters,”  Akrouche not only provided an overview of a governance model, he also established a viable working mandate for a Relationships Management Officer.

The new RMO person will be charged with “proactively” seeking the “best partners or stakeholders,” within the context of better “facilitating their role in the greater or collective outcome.”  This includes creating and overseeing the individual charters with each one.

While there are always going to be CFOs, CIOs and CPOs, the challenge under the present model is that relationship management is often times a vague interaction between these three different departments, with each attempting to put forward their own agenda’s.  When it comes down to it, the one wielding the most weight ultimately calls the proverbial shots, regardless of whether or not it is in the best collective interest.

This is where the RMO office, and specifically the RMO comes into play.

What are your thoughts on the emergence of the RMO?


Posted in: Commentary