The way businesses communicate is changing for the better. That is what information distribution technology brings to the table – new ways to design and manage computer-based systems for telecommunications and networks. It is time for each organization to look at the structure that surrounds its Chief Information Officer and to accommodate this growing field through forming a post for a Chief Technology Officer.
The Chief Technology Officer is a role defined by the industry and company architecture. Generally speaking, the good ones fit into one of four categories.
The CTO strategist takes over the planning side of information technology to leave most of the project management in the hands of other leaders. The focus is on road-mapping the IT of the future, as well as managing the current infrastructure. IT is a cantankerous affair that is always pressing for change. That makes strategic planning a critical part of daily management.
In IT, strategy is about innovation. This CTO must be able to think ahead to develop new architecture, more efficient administration, and growth potential.
The architect CTO needs to have a strong knowledge of technology. The role requires someone proficient in network structuring, but this person does not necessarily need to be a powerful manager. This CTO is the one everyone goes to with operational questions or when looking to upgrade to something new. The architect CTO deals with the day-to-day fires that occur throughout the network– like outages.
The architect works in a similar capacity as the CTO strategist but on a broader scale and with less management responsibilities. This CTO serves more as a partner to other departments such as enterprise architecture than a division leader.
The Traditional Route
Head of IT infrastructure is the traditional model for a Chief Technology Officer. This person sits at the top of the IT platform – managing both structure and operation. As with most broad-based management roles, this one includes different responsibilities depending on the environment. The CTO might oversee product and application development, work as the chief software engineer, or manage all third-party cloud assets.
Business innovation utilizing IT is a budding prospect for the CTO role. The concept is poorly defined but one that needs to be further developed; the innovator CTO would require an organizational leader.
There is no clear definition for a Chief Technology Officer. This flexibility is what makes it so critical. The role can evolve as the business and technology changes.