First emerging in the 1990s, the definition of ‘Chief Technology Officer’ is constantly evolving as technology advances and jobs pop into and out of existence in line with market demands. Furthermore, with the rise of ‘digital transformation’ in the past few years, it’s harder to identify the CTO role and find commonality between one CTO and another.
Gartner says that the CTO ‘has overall responsibility for managing physical and personnel technology infrastructure’. Meanwhile, Investopedia says a Chief Technology Officer is “the executive in charge of an organisation’s technologies”.
These definitions don’t capture the essence of what a CTO has at their disposal – the ability to drive a business by utilising technology. Driving customer experience agendas through low-code or artificial intelligence (AI) or RPA, balancing how to drive a digitalised corporate agenda with an ever-increasing demand for highly skilled talent, being people-first and taking technology out of the backroom and into the boardroom are just some of the challenges the modern day CTO faces. They can be innovators, strategic thinkers, customer advocates – or all of the above.
When we drill down into the traits, responsibilities and ongoing technology trends, it’s possible to distill CTOs into several ‘personas’ – we’ve looked at CTOs role in the current business landscape and identified our four main CTO personas below.
This CTO persona is about implementing technical strategy, overseeing data, security, maintenance and the company network at large. In many ways, this persona is aligned with building a strong foundation. Some may argue that this falls into the CIOs remit, which could be true depending on company structure and reporting lines. However whether CIO or CTO they both oversee software development (off the shelf and in-house built), customer experience and digital transformation as a whole. Quite often there is a shared responsibility between CIOs and CTOs if both exist.
This persona is similar to that of the ‘Run’ aspect of Infrastructure. Not the most exciting part of the role, but essential nonetheless.
This CTO type is all about exploring how bleeding-edge technology could transform existing company processes, and what the implementation of that new technology could look like. CTOs under ‘the Innovator’ category will always keep abreast of the latest technology trends and explore how state-of-the-art technologies will affect their market moving forwards.
This persona is closely aligned with the CEO, as they help forge the actual business model that dictates a company’s technology infrastructure. This is separate from the Overseer, as it's less about implementation and more about creating the overall strategy that will inform the kind of technologies the company requires. This CTO stays in tune with what competitors in the same field are doing so that they can suggest ways to adapt the technological infrastructure of their business.
The Advocate is much more about analysing the business’s customer personas, and taking an active role in customer relations and behaviour in order to improve customers’ experience with the business. They work to build a more seamless bridge between customers and the business, whether that’s by improving user experience or introducing new portals that make it easier for customers to engage the company’s services or give feedback.
Overseers, Innovators, Strategists, Advocates: RPI connects CTOs with the business that’s right for them
RPI’s global partnerships and experienced recruiters ask the right questions to highlight the skills and demands of C-level candidates. We place candidates across clients in a range of disciplines – from Leadership to BI, Data and Analytics to Software Engineering and DevOps.