Marketing & HRUnveiling the World of a Chief Technology Officer

What is CTO? How does a CTO navigate innovation, risk, and system security in today's fast-paced tech environment?
Ewa Sadowska
Ewa Sadowska

HR & Administration Manager

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Conclusion
  3. Insights from HR and EB in the IT industry

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Introduction

Companies around the world are undergoing digital transformation. Digital transformation is a comprehensive approach to managing change and innovation in an organization that goes beyond the introduction of new technologies. It encompasses both organizational and cultural changes, enabling the company to fully leverage the potential of digital technologies to create new business value. Digital transformation requires a change in mindset and organizational culture that supports innovation, openness to change, and a commitment to continuous improvement.

To make all of this possible, it is necessary to hire the right people in the company who, with their experience and knowledge, will be able to lead the company in the right direction while maintaining the highest tech standards. Such a person in a company can be a Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

What is a Chief Technology Officer?

What does CTO mean? The Chief Technology Officer is a business role responsible for tech strategy in the company. The CTO belongs to the company's higher management level. They must possess broad technical knowledge, ideally from practice, and must also understand and be able to collaborate with the business. They are experts, a technology specialist in theory and practice. The main responsibilities of the Chief Technology Officer include tracking new developments and preparing plans for their implementation in the company to ensure optimal results. The Chief Technology Officer is responsible for assessing risk. CTOs are also team leaders - their task is to maintain strong relationships with investors and their employees. The Chief Technology Officer possesses knowledge of the business environment and new technologies and is also the leader of the entire technical team.

What is a CTO of a Company?

As the CTO role is dynamic and responsibilities may vary depending on the type and size of the organization, industry, and other factors, there is no such thing as a "typical CTO day." Examples of the Chief Technology Officer job may perform include presenting reports on the state of the company's technology, its goals, and progress; creating and implementing technological strategies; aligning the company's technological resources with its short and long-term goals; serving on steering committees to align technological goals with those of other departments and organizations; identifying technologies that can be used to enhance the company's products and services; creating and monitoring KPIs; assisting in the recruitment, onboarding, and training process of technological specialists; and also managing the budget.

CTO Job Description

CTOs are some of the most important employees currently hired by organizations, and finding the right person with all the necessary skills can prove to be quite a challenge. The role of the CTO is still evolving. Unfortunately, this role means many things for different industries and organizations. In the past, CTOs mainly oversaw infrastructure. This may still be true today, but the position of CTO can also mean a highly strategic role that often involves engineering, technology, tech strategy, and product development. 

The role of a CTO - as a member of the senior management team focused on the technical requirements and challenges of the organization - can be similar to typical responsibilities of CIOs. However, the CIOs are responsible for overseeing the IT department, team, and infrastructure, supporting day-to-day operations, and collaborating with business leaders to align information technology with business goals. When the CTO is responsible for the overall technology strategy and technological needs of the organization. Some CTOs also oversee research and development (R&D) initiatives and intellectual property management in their organizations.

Responsibilities

The responsibilities of the Chief Technology Officer are usually closely linked to the activities and size of the company.

Their main tasks include:

  • Monitoring and implementing the company's tech systems/apps, and the efficiency of technological resources within the organization, including everything from phone systems to enterprise software platforms

  • Creating a technology strategy in line with the company's business goals

  • Company protection against cybercrime/cyberattack

  • Analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the company's technology

  • Creating internal technology regulations

  • Research new technological solutions that can improve the company's operations and monitor the use and implementation of new and existing technologies across different departments

  • Creating policies and procedures that utilize technology to enhance products and services provided to external clients

  • Supervising teamwork

  • Communicating with other members of the board

The role of the CTO focuses on innovation, both in terms of products and technology, to improve the company's performance. The Technology Director introduces new technologies and makes key decisions regarding all technological activities within the company.

Chief Technology Officer Skillset

As a management team member, a CTO should possess natural leadership abilities, including the ability to delegate tasks and inspire employees to work. The role of a CTO requires a strong knowledge of various technologies and a thorough understanding of technology, particularly in architecture, software, and technological strategy, to address challenges related to outdated technologies. A CTO's knowledge of how technology works is crucial, but the ability to explain the business value of a technology to senior executives who may not have the necessary tech knowledge is also important. It is also essential to recognize how technology fits into the business strategy.

A CTO's skills combine a vision of technology with strategic thinking beyond technology itself. A CTO must not be blinded by the "superiority" of technology but rather understand how and whether it will fit the company's goals and the market needs. CTOs must also possess a range of soft skills, including strong communication and teamwork skills, as they interact with multiple individuals in various positions. Infrastructure modernization, resilience to external interference, and cloud services require extensive cooperation with security teams and continuous partnerships with Engineering and Quality management teams. Empathy is an essential attribute for a CTO - the ability to understand what others in the organization want to achieve and their challenges and guide them on how to achieve goals and overcome obstacles. CTOs require not only the ability to motivate themselves but also the ability to motivate others by presenting the right arguments to persuade different stakeholders to invest time and money in the unknown. CTOs should possess other soft skills: problem-solving, time management, multitasking, and creative thinking.

CTOs usually should have a degree in computer science, information systems, or a related field. In some cases, a background in business or management can also be beneficial. Knowledge of the company's tech trends is also important. Many CTOs have completed higher education, and some even have a PhD in IT or Business Administration. Most CTOs do training throughout their IT careers and may also obtain certifications in development, programming, database administration, or other related fields. It is estimated that at least 10 years of experience in IT and management is required to become a good CTO. Previous positions in technical support, development and programming, database and network administration, or engineering help for a CTO. Someone in this position without engineering education and practical experience is extremely rare. A CTO should deeply understand processes and a broad range of technology strategies. Technology executives must know every role within the tech department. Experience in various technical positions is valuable.

CTO In The Company Structure

A CTO may report to other top-level executives depending on the organizational structure. These may include the Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Operating Officer (COO), or Chief Financial Officer (CFO). If it is the highest technology management position in the organization, the CTO usually reports to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for strategic reasons.

Salary

Chief Technology Officer is one of the highest positions in a company's management, so the salaries should also be high. Many corporations that employ technology executives undergo a multi-stage and relatively complex recruitment process, which considers not only education and experience but also achievements in previous positions or innovative solutions. The average salary for a CTO ranges from $75,000 to over $200,000 per year. Of course, much depends on experience and the company's size, but even in a smaller company, the salaries will be significant.

Conclusion

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), if an organization has both a CIO and a CTO, the CTO generally has more technical knowledge and experience. The CTO and CIO influence actions that impact achieving a high level of digital maturity within an organization. Recent studies analyzing the current state of digital maturity in organizations found that only 4% operate at the highest level. If you want to grow your business, CTO in an organization is a must-have. But... if you need a team who have the best tech and business skills, check our case studies.

Insights from HR and EB in the IT industry

Are you curious about the unique challenges and innovative solutions in HR and employer branding within the IT industry? At Mobile Reality, we're excited to share with you a wealth of insights from our experiences. Discover the problems we face, the strategies that drive us, and the creative ideas we implement in our HR and employer branding initiatives. Dive into our collection of related articles featured on our blog – a treasure trove of knowledge awaits you:

Enjoy exploring these insights. Should you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out to us. If you're interested in joining our dynamic team, explore the opportunities in our career section and submit your CV. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Matt Sadowski

CEO of Mobile Reality

CEO of Mobile Reality

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