Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

The title Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is given to role of head of technology. The definition of "technology" determines the specific responsibilities and reporting relationships of this role.

In organizations that take technology to mean information technology (IT) or information and communications technology (ICT) the CTO is the head of the IT department. Some organizations think of technology only as technical infrastructure and assign this role to the head of infrastructure. A CTO can also be the title given to the head of enterprise architecture planning.

Variation by Industry
The responsibilities and reporting structure of the CTO role can vary by the industry that an organization is in.

  • Non-technology industries create non-technology products and services (agricultural, media, financial etc.)
  • Technology industries create technology products and services (computer software, hardware etc.)

In non-technology industries the CTO role is responsible for managing the technology infrastructure lifecycle:

  • Technology infrastructure refers to computer hardware, software, network
  • Lifec-ycle refers to identifying, selecting, funding, build, deploying and maintaining

For example, assessing the impact of new technologies on a company's infrastructure is part of the CTO's responsibility.

Variation by Technology Layer or Function
As the role of technology has evolved within the enterprise, so have the roles associated with IT.

  • CIO 1.0: Technology started as just a tool,.The head of technology role was that of a technical manager
  • CIO 2.0: Then, technology evolved to being an "enabler" or business value. The head of technology became a technology leader
  • CIO 3.0: Now, technology is viewed as a "driver" of business value. Now, the head of technology is a business leader.

Increasingly, enterprise technology is separated into two IT capabilities : differentiation and utility

  • Differentiation: this is where information technology creates business value. Many different names and terms are applied to this capability: strategic technology being one of the more common ones. This capability answers the simple question: Are we doing the right things?
  • Utility: as the name suggests, this is "keeping the lights on" technology capability. This capability answers the simple question: Are we doing them right?

The CIO CTO role and responsibility split is sometimes defined along the technology capability line - the CIO is responsible for differentiation, while the CTO is responsible for utility computing. Hence, the CTO reports to the CIO.

See Also