Chief Technology Officer (CTO) – definition and example

The Chief Technology Officer or CTO is an executive in charge of the management of the technological needs of a company. Some companies use the term Chief Technical Officer. This person works side by side with the Chief Information Officer.

The Chief Information Officer or CIO makes sure that the information that people have access to is relevant and usable.

The CTO position emerged when companies decided to split off some of the Chief Information Officer’s responsibilities.

The CIO is in charge of evaluating and managing new technology software and future technology investment. They also ensure that the company achieves its business strategy.

However, doing all of this can be overwhelming for just one person. Subsequently, this is where the Chief Executive Officer came in.

Wikipedia has the following definition of Chief Technology Officer:

“A Chief Technology Officer is an executive-level position in a company or other entity whose occupation is focused on scientific and technological issues within an organization.”

CTO - Chief Technology Officer
According to the Society for Human Resource Management: “The CTO works with Executive Management to grow the company through the use of technological resources.”

CTO – the C-suite

The Chief Technology Officer is the most senior technology executive there is in the C-suite (scroll down for ‘C-suite’ explanation). They have extensive knowledge of software and technology. Therefore, they can make recommendations on the appropriate technology for the company.

The Chief Technology Officer’s main responsibility is to keep track of all new technologies within the company.

Chief Technology Officers are also in charge of the IT engineering group, managing new technologies, and using them to improve product quality.

They focus on the external customers. Above all, they focus on developing strategies for the company’s revenue. Revenue means the same as gross sales.

C-suite – C-level executives

C-level executives or C-suite executives are the top executives in a company, i.e., typically board members. The ‘C‘ stands for ‘Chief.’

The CEO (Chief Executive Officer), for example, is the top corporate officer. In many cases, the CEO is also the President or Chairman.

The CIO (Chief Investment Officer) heads investments in a company.

The COO (Chief Operating Officer) oversees the firm’s ongoing business operations.

CHRO, which is short for Chief Human Resources Officer, is a company’s top human resources executive.

The CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) is the most senior of all the marketing professionals in a company.

Skills a CTO must have

A good Chief Technology Officer must possess creativity and innovation. Leadership and communication skills are also vital. They are crucial because without them the person wouldn’t be able to run the technology and engineering department successfully.

A candidate for the position of CTO should have extensive technology knowledge and experience in. A degree in fields like information technology, electrical engineering, or computer science is also a must.

If the job applicant has some business training or certification, that would be a welcome bonus for the company.

CIO vs. CTO

The CTO is the technology architect of the company while the CIO is the technology infrastructure manager.

Also, the CTO focuses on the design and suggestion of technology, while the CIO on the implementation of the technology.

In other words, one creates and puts forward ideas (CTO), while the other one sees them through (CIO).

Lastly, the CTO focuses on the buyers and the development of strategies for the top line of the company.

The CIO, on the other hand, focuses on the internal customers and developing strategies for the company’s bottom line. Internal customers are typically employees, stakeholders, or shareholders, while the bottom line is the company’s net earnings or net profits.

Video – Chief Technology Officer

This Modern Events Tech Ltd. video looks at a day in the life of a CTO. The speaker begins by talking about a company that plans to open two new office in eight weeks’ time.

The CTO, who is already drowning in work, has an extremely busy two months ahead.