In the first part of this series, we examined the role of a CIO and when to consider adding a CIO to your staff. Now we’ll turn to another business technology leader: the Chief Technology Officer (CTO).
The World of the CTO
The Chief Technology Officer is in charge of any customer-facing technology. Generally, this means that the CTO develops new products and figures out how best to deliver that product to the customer.
In tech start-ups, the CTO is often “the brain” behind the tech and oversees the transition from prototype to deliverable. They may also work on the digital marketing strategy for selling the product. In more established companies, the CTO heads up the Engineering, and Research and Development departments. They may or may not sit on executive boards.
CTOs lead tech innovation within their company and have clear methodology for deciding how to engage with new technologies. This is critical to staying ahead of the competition and attracting new customers or clients. Many CTOs are heavily involved in analyzing market trends and identifying target markets, playing an important part in driving overall strategy
When the CIO and CTO Overlap
As we said in Part One, the CIO is typically in charge of IT as it relates to the daily functioning of the company. But the influence of the CTO can sometimes extend into this territory.
According to Investopedia, the CTO, “may oversee the company’s data, security, maintenance and the network of a company, and may implement (but not necessarily set) the company’s technical strategy. The CTO may also manage the company’s technological roadmap.”
At first glance, this sounds very similar to the duties of a CIO. But whereas CIOs keep an eye on overall business operations, CTOs immerse themselves in the technical side of things. Where both positions exist, the CIO will focus on how the company’s IT systems carry out internal operations, while the CTO will likely focus on developing new products and how to best deliver that product to the customer. Together, the CIO and CTO create a comprehensive IT architecture that can adapt to the needs of both internal and external stakeholders.
How to Know If You Need a CTO
CTOs are often hired when one developer grows into a team, or when new technology needs to be scaled and brought to market. They can also be instrumental in keeping ahead of the competition in tech-driven industries, or industries that are experiencing rapid change due to recent innovations. CTOs can also be brought in to meet the technical needs of a project that can’t be met by current staff.
Companies that do not need a full-time CTO can consult with a Technical Advisor to solve specific issues. However, Technical Advisors often cannot provide the business expertise and overall vision that a competent CTO brings to the table.
Starting the Search
The search for a CIO or CTO, or even deciding if you need one, can be overwhelming. The best place to start is by taking a clear look at your needs and goals, as well as any recurring IT issues you have.
You can also reach out to us at any time. Watermark Ventures can help assess your IT systems, identify areas for improvement or growth, and connect you with the ideal consultant or employee to take your business to the next level.