Chief Technology Officer (CTO): Definition, Roles, Duties, and Required Capabilities

The Chief Technology Officer or CTO is a company responsible for making decisions regarding all technology infrastructure. Therefore, the CTO can be said to be the highest position for technology matters in a company. Not surprisingly, the CTO needs someone with relatively high responsibilities and qualifications.

In today’s era, someone who understands technology is essential to a company, especially business. This is why a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) ensures alignment of technology strategy with company goals. So, what exactly does the CTO mean, and its role in the company?

Definition of CTOS

The Chief Technology Officer or CTO can be said to be an executive in a company who has responsibility for technology needs, research, and development. The work done by the CTO will be directly reported to the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

When it comes to executives in the technology field, a company usually doesn’t just stop at the CTO. The company will also need an executive Chief Information Officer (CIO) to maximize company goals. Although many are confused about the difference between CTO and CIO, these two positions are very closely related to managing technology in a company. It’s just that both are very, very different executive positions.

The Chief Information Officer usually manages the company’s information technology (IT) infrastructure and operations. This section implements systems and technology products to simplify internal business processes. In addition, the role of the CTO is devoted to building technology products or services to meet the needs of the company’s customers.

Initially, the CIO position could play two roles within the company, from the CIO to the CTO. However, as the world of technology develops, the CTO is also separated, considering that the two positions have a vital role. The separation was carried out to maximize the contribution of technology to company productivity.

However, some companies may now only have a CTO or CIO. However, several companies continue to fill these two positions. In general, companies with a large scale will need both roles. Meanwhile, companies with a small scale only have one of them.

CTO duties

In an article on Investopedia, a CTO typically leads a technology or engineering department within a company. The CTO is tasked with developing policies and procedures. It doesn’t stop there; they must also maximize technology to improve the company’s products and services to customers or clients.

For companies, a CTO is expected to have the ability to develop various strategies to increase revenue. The CTO will generally make all decisions through a cost and benefit analysis and a return on investment-analysis.

The duties carried out are, of course, very different from the CIO position. The CIO is known to have a role that is more towards the operational and internal parts of the company. Meanwhile, a CTO has more duties on strategy and insights from outside the company. Simply put, a CTO must grow external businesses by utilizing services and products that serve the company’s clients or customers.

In today’s digital era, the CTO is behind various application integrations and digitizing product transactions with consumers. In addition, the CTO is also required to manage helpdesk professionals while making different decisions about the right tool or technology to be used by the company.

A CTO is someone who serves as an “outside-facing” technology representative. As the representative, the CTO must always ensure that the company’s technological developments have a place in the market and related company conferences.

The role and types of CTO in a company

As explained above, a CTO has an overarching role in all company technology dealings with consumers or external clients. It doesn’t stop there; aCTO also automatically gets a role in a position that develops revenue strategies and conducts cost-benefit analysis and Return of Investment (ROI) analysis.

Therefore, the responsibilities carried out by a CTO in every company are heavily influenced by several factors, namely company size, industry, business model, and the number of employees. In general, the following roles are held by a CTO, including:

  1. Develop technical aspects to ensure alignment with the business objectives of the company’s strategy.
  2. Creating and implementing new technologies that generate competitive advantage
  3. Support each department using technology to the fullest.
  4. They are controlling infrastructure systems so that functionality and efficiency can be maintained.
  5. Establish a quality assurance and data protection process.
  6. UWe is utilizing impressions or feedback from stakeholders for necessary improvements and adjustments in terms of technology.
  7. We are communicating the right technology strategy to partners and investors.
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CTO type

Even so, each company assigns quite a different role to its CTOs. When viewed based on their primary duties, a CTO can be distinguished based on four types, including the following:

1. Infrastructure

This type of CTO oversees company data, security, maintenance, and corporate networks. As the person in charge of infrastructure, a CTO is required to be able to implement the company’s technical strategy while managing the company’s technology roadmap.

2. Planner

As a position in charge of planning, this type of CTO has the task of creating a vision of how technology can be used within the company, resulting in a technical strategy. This makes the CTO ensure success regarding how new technology is implemented in the company.

3. Consumer-Focused

As someone who becomes an “outward-facing” technology representative, a CTO of this type gets a role as a liaison between the customer and the company. This task is usually often referred to as customer relations. In addition, customer relations are also required to understand the target market and help deliver various information technology projects to the market.

4. Thinkers

As the name implies, this type of CTO supports and controls the company’s strategy. One form of support that the CTO will provide is technology infrastructure for the company. In addition, the CTO position as a thinker is responsible for analyzing the target market and creating a business model for the company for clients or customers.

Difference between CEO, CFO, CTO, and COO

The CTO position is generally one of a company’s executive or C-Levels. Although both lead companies to achieve their goals, each administrative role, such as CEO, COO, CFO, and CTO, has its characteristics in the company’s business processes. So, here are some differences between the four executive positions:

CTO

  • Holds a position as the head of the company’s technology department.
  • Responsible for overseeing company data, from network maintenance to company security.
  • Responsible for the company’s technical strategy and its market penetration implementation.
  • Has the position of senior vice president with a consumer-focused technology orientation.

CEO

  • Holds the position of the highest management of the company.
  • Responsible for making general decisions and strategies for the company.
  • Responsible in general within the company by analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the company.
  • Has the leading position as president or principal director in the company.

COO

  • Holds the position of head of the company’s operations.
  • Responsible for managing and making decisions related to the company’s operations.
  • Responsible for solving various company problems through the operational realm (communication, collaboration, improvisation, recruitment, functional analysis, and strategy implementation).
  • Has a position as the primary senior vice president within the company.

CFO

  • Holds a position as head of the company’s finance department.
  • Responsible for managing the planning and various financial administration of the company.
  • Responsible for finance and accounting functions, supervise staff related to finance, and understand applicable tax regulations.
  • Has the position of senior vice president within the company.

8 Skills a CTO Must Have

With various duties and responsibilities carried out by a CTO, eight skills must be possessed to become a good CTO. The following is an explanation of eight critical capabilities for CTOs, namely:

1. Leadership

Chief Technology Officer, often known as CTO, is a position at the executive level of a company. As one of the leaders in the company, a CTO will be tasked with controlling managers and teams so that various technical matters in the company can run well. Of course, this task requires a CTO to have capable leadership skills, such as delegating tasks or guiding each line.

2. Communication

After leadership skills, a CTO must also have good communication skills both orally and in writing. This communication ability will enable a CTO to build cooperation with the ranks below him. In addition, the CTO must be proficient in communicating the company’s technological needs and implementing a more precise system than the existing one. Plus, a CTO must be able to compile reports on a company’s technology performance and feedback when needed.

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3. Decision Making

The next ability that a CTO must own, of course,  is making the right decisions. As one of the people who occupy the highest position in a company. CTOs are required always to be responsible for all critical decisions, especially those related to technology. The CTO’s business makes internal technology, production matters, and marketing decisions.

4. Understanding of Business

Almost most business companies today need a CTO to increase productivity. Therefore, a CTO is generally also required to have a good understanding. A CTO must understand the company’s needs so it can develop strategies while monitoring the results.

5. Organization

A CTO may manage several departments, including infrastructure, data, security, and helpdesk support. Therefore, the CTO is also expected to have qualified organizational capabilities to ensure that each department can work with one another.

6. Technology Capabilities

As the name implies, the CTO is the leader in the technology department. A CTO is expected to have excellent technological skills. This is because a CTO must have a solid technical background, such as being able to operate Agile, JavaScript, and machine learning. Not only that, some companies also often add other requirements, such as Java, Net ., big data, project management, and artificial intelligence. A strong understanding of technology will significantly enable companies to plan strategically and make relevant decisions.

7. Following the Latest Technology Trends

Every profession today has adapted to needs, especially technology, as one of the drivers of change. Therefore, a CTO is required to be able to follow various existing technological trends. Technology has been proven to deliver great success for companies in any field. Utilization of this technology will correlate with different technological innovation offerings from the company.

In addition, a CTO who always follows developments will affect the progress of the technology department, one of which is updating tools or software. A CTO will also be more appropriate for estimating the position of the business in the next few years. Technology has been proven to make companies always competitive, efficient, and measurable.

8. Knowing Recruitment Candidates

One of the essential skills a CTO must have is knowing how to recruit candidates. A CTO can achieve the goals set if it has the right co-workers. This is one thing that must be fulfilled first because the best CTO cannot work without a team.

In addition, some companies usually look for someone with higher talent than qualified candidates in looking for new job opportunities. Therefore, a CTO must find candidates meeting the technical requirements to build a suitable business technology ecosystem.

A CTO is required to participate in the hiring process for the team they will lead. In addition, the CTO must also have the sensitivity to determine who is a suitable candidate with the company culture and skills aligned with the company.

CTO Career Path

The growth of various startup companies or startups in Indonesia has also made the role of technology in a business ecosystem grow. Most commercial companies are known to need technology, such as buying and selling applications, to market their products. Many companies use technology as a basis for running their business.

This development certainly creates a career path for someone who is tech-savvy and wants to be a CTO. A company that wants to develop technology certainly requires a very competent CTO. Recently, this executive position usually begins as a developer or developer and also a technician in a company.

Based on an article from the Maryville University website, one can reach the CTO position requiring at least 10 to 15 years of experience with a role specialization in information technology. Several things must be mastered: network architecture, extensive data engineering, information security management, security engineering, and software development.

In addition, before reaching the highest level in the CTO position, one is expected to also go through a managerial position in the field of information technology. This is necessary to mature one’s experience and performance further.

Closing

Thus was the review of a Chief Technology Officer’s role and job description. For Sinaumed, who has a passion for technology, there’s nothing wrong if you aspire to become a CTO.