What Does a Chief Technology Officer Do?

Chief Technology OfficerPerhaps you’re working in or preparing to work in the information technology field, and you wonder what a chief technology officer does? It’s a good question, since this is a relatively new job title and focus, one that has emerged as companies rely more and more on technological solutions and innovation.

What Precisely Is a CTO?

You’ve probably heard the title CEO, which refers to the Chief Executive Officer of a company, or CIO, which stands for Chief Information Officer. As you might surmise from the similarities of the acronyms, a CTO also works at the executive level of a company.

A CEO is basically in charge of everything. He or she is the highest ranking officer in a corporation, responsible for all aspects of management. Both a CIO and CTO would report to the CEO. CIO and CTOs generally both work with technology, but in different ways, according to INC.com. A Chief Information Officer is a problem solver who works with existing technologies, while a Chief Technology Officer is a developer who is seeking to create new technologies. While it varies for different companies, many CIOs are the people in charge of in-house technology while a CTO focuses more on developing new technologies for the company or for the company’s clients. A company’s internal structure would likely determine who would report to whom and how certain projects would be allocated.

The Skills of a CTO

Not every person skilled in engineering and technology has the management skills needed to work at a high management level. A Chief Technology Officer has to combine a lot of different skills in both business and technology, according to Computer Weekly. As an executive officer, a CTO will likely be in a position of managing both people and a budget. At the same time, a CTO has to have good development and engineering skills. He or she needs to be a visionary who can come up with innovative solutions.

It’s one thing to be able to develop a new product, and another thing to be able to keep a bigger picture in view for the company as you do so. Will the product you’re working on meet the customer’s needs? Is the research and development you need to put into it overall going to be cost effective for the company? Can you use your skills and experience in technology to put together a good, productive team and encourage them to utilize their skills to the best of their ability? Those are the kinds of questions a good CTO will need to ask as they pursue work in this field.

Related Resource: CTO Salary

A Growing Field

While not all companies need or can afford a Chief Technology Officer, those who can have discovered that this can be a helpful management position as they look toward their company’s future.  As technology continues to rapidly grow, visionary people who can combine engineering skills with business and management acumen will be valuable resources for many companies.